Live streaming providing valuable service
By Cian O’Connell
The whole sporting media landscape has altered dramatically in recent decades, but the availability of club games being live streamed is a hugely welcome development.
With restrictions remaining in place due to the Covid 19 pandemic, County Boards are being forced to act briskly arriving with solutions to different problems.
Nemeton, a progressive production company based in Waterford, have entered partnerships with several counties throughout Ireland.
Galway, Leitrim, Waterford, Roscommon, Kerry, Kilkenny, and Antrim are amongst those that have joined forces with Nemeton, who are adjusting to the current reality. Renowned for the splendid GAA BEO coverage on TG4, Nemeton are delighted to be occupying a central role in this new movement.
“We are relishing the challenge of bringing club action to the people at home,” Nemeton Producer Donie Mac Murchú admits.
“It otherwise would be unavailable for them to see in these exceptional circumstances. It makes it all the worthwhile when you feel that sense of urgency to make sure that people can see club games, that they aren't being left in the dark.”
The lockdown means a huge appetite for streaming games exists with Noel Quinn, the GAA’s Senior Marketing & Media Rights Manager stressing the growth in the area.
"Over-the-top or 'OTT' services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube have become the go-to place for the latest and greatest content around the world in recent years and sports programming has driven a large part of that interest,” Quinn says.
“Viewers no longer segregate linear television and online - they merely see a screen and what they wish to consume.
“It is therefore no surprise that Gaelic Games has seen a spurt in online match streaming activity, particularly in light of a condensed playing calendar and reduced capacity allowance during the current pandemic, and counties providing a feed to those who cannot attend will be fantastic in the coming weeks.
“Nemeton are longstanding Producers and Directors of our live games for some of the country's biggest television stations and are well placed to work with County Boards in delivering a local club Championship feed, to those watching at both home and abroad.
“Indeed, many counties have already been working with other technical suppliers for the past number of years and ensures unrivalled access and exposure to our games as a whole.”
So logistically how will Nemeton’s service be provided and how many workers will be required to attend fixtures? “On location it is going to be kept very streamlined,” Mac Murchú replies.
“One operator will be on location to technically bring the pictures, a commentator, who the counties themselves will be providing to supplement that service, to help their viewers at home.
“Essentially it wouldn't be practical or feasible to bring a full GAA Beo production that we do each weekend for the people at home. Mostly on the basis that it isn't necessary, but also when counties are trying to do this at a cost effective basis.
“Just giving the viewer at home an opportunity to see the match without having massive amount of camera angles, analysts, pundits, action replays, wooshing graphics, it is just bringing the pictures to the people at home in a good, solid, technical manner. It is about making sure people are able to access their club games.”
With significant experience in this sector, Nemeton are eager to embrace new methods, and 2020 has brought problems needing to be solved quickly.
“We are very lucky that we have a vast database of operatives throughout the country, who have worked with us not only on GAA BEO, but on your GAA highlights show, GAA 2020,” Mac Murchú remarks.
“For quite a while they have been filming matches for us. There was a certain amount of upskilling and a different element with the streaming. Instead of a match being recorded, brought back, and cut down to maybe a 10 minutes highlights package.
“Now it is going out live through the internet, it is a different challenge. It has been designed in such a way to allow us not to be sending massive amounts of crews into stadia where there are pressures regarding attendance levels.
“So to try to design a system where we only have one person on location and one person back in the studio in An Rinn, that was a particular challenge. It was one we felt we could master.
“Realistically speaking we don't know when full capacity will be allowed so we were mindful about providing this service to County Boards with minimal amounts of staff on site.”
Several matches will be streamed every weekend, but Nemeton staff have been upskilling, and that is why Mac Murchú is adamant a good product will be available.
“We have operatives training here for the last couple of weeks training on test streams,” Mac Murchú reveals.
“Essentially we will just be adding some graphics, a score clock and information on screen for people. This is so the viewer at home can access as much information as possible without overburdening or making it overbearing. This is really aimed at the club viewer at home getting information.
“The key to success for us is that we have trained several operatives here in the last couple of weeks to provide information on screen to the viewer at home: the score, the time clock, and so forth. It is to give as much a sample of a live broadcast as possible without it being a full GAA BEO broadcast.
“It is a technical challenge, of course, but one we have really focused in on during this last couple of months when action was paused. We trained our minds to how best bring this to the viewer at home without a massive outside broadcast unit and people infiltrating the stadium.”