Last weekend Donegal GAA streamed all eleven of our knockout fixtures in the Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure Championship. This was an ambitious undertaking and the County Board aimed to make coverage as good as we possibly could by supplementing the work of many of our volunteers with professional camera crews and graphic technicians to bring games to spectators. It was a massive effort by all concerned and I would like to thank our four stream-teams:
- Bradas Video Productions/Joe’s Tech Help, our main Stream Team;
- Ligid TV, operating out of the North West;
- fStop who covered our fixtures in the South West; and.
- C-Live Sport in Inishowen.
All provided a top class service and often went above and beyond the call of duty when asked. Covering from an IT perspective, and constantly manning our “chat line” on Donegal GAA for those seeking help with streaming or getting their codes, was Aidan Spence Web, Graphic and Marketing Consultant. Aidan’s input over the weekend was immense as he was on-line with phone and three computer screens for all eleven games.
Our commentary teams from Highland Radio, Ocean FM and Radio na Gaeltachta were an integral part of the weekend’s service and thank you to the commentators, analysts and technicians from all three. Their standards, professionalism and dedication (and knowledge of) Donegal GAA is among the highest in any county across Ireland. Donegal Gaels do not know their luck in the level of sports coverage in both the broadcast, mainstream press and online media that it has. Everyone does not always agree with what they hear and read but we cannot deny their extensive coverage, widespread knowledge and dedication. The Board would also like to thank our volunteer commentary teams – Damian Dowds and Paul McGonigle, Ryan Walsh and Pat Campbell, Ciaran Cannon and John Joe Doherty. Our product was also enhanced by the pre-match previews with Conal Dunne, Barry Meehan and Paul Brennan (and Declan Bonner this weekend). Thank you to our link men Ciaran O’Donnell, Damien Carr and Ed Byrne – who also filled in as graphics technician in one game and provided plenty of expert advice from his five years as County PRO. The virtual programmes available for download from our site would not have been possible without the help of Aodh Ruadh PRO John Hughes or the advice of Impacto Print’s Jordan Keane as well as the journalists who contributed articles. Thank you also to all Club Secretaries and PROs who mostly got me team line-ups in good time – those that were last minute I know it was beyond your control.
In both the virtual programmes and this weblog it was pointed out that streaming in the County is still in its infancy. There may be occasional issues with consistent coverage in some venues, some of those involved in providing streaming are local, unpaid volunteers and people should manage their expectation around this.
The PPC fee of €3 reflected the Board’s intention of bringing the games to as many supporters as possible. While subscriptions to some games were above expectations costs were not covered in all games. This may be the case again this coming weekend but the Board will still cover every knockout fixture – looking after the interests of the members and supporters who make clubs throughout the County the excellent community organisations that they are, is paramount, regardless if they are fans of the Senior elite teams or Junior Hurling supporters.
Finally, thank you to the host venues who also worked hard to ensure missing supporters got access to the games from getting better signal installed to providing elevation, shelter and power for our streaming equipment.
County Boards all over the Ireland are working hard to bring their games to supporters. Every weekend I read of one or more counties that have suffered major problems and see my fellow PROs getting ridiculous abuse on social media. This is most unfair to these volunteers and their teams. All are working hard to facilitate supporters and we are all but one game away from a potential disaster. For Donegal that has not happened yet but we did have significant problems with one fixture last weekend.
While ten games streamed very well, the County Board apologies for the disruption to coverage for some of the second half of the Gaoth Dobhair v Sean MacCumhaills game. It was unfortunate that the game with the most viewers was also the one that had problems. All venues were checked for signal strength prior to the finalisation of fixtures. Machaire Gathlán had more than sufficient bandwidth. However, bordering a public road, it is evident from the stream itself that a considerable crowd of spectators circumvented government restrictions by congregating there, outside the club ground’s boundaries. We can only speculate that many spectators used mobile devices for social media or calls at half-time diluting the signal to the extent our stream team at the venue – Ligid TV – through no fault of their own had limited signal strength for much of the third quarter.
The other games mostly went very well. For eight of the other ten fixtures there was no problem whatsoever with the video stream. There were intermittent issues with frame freezes in the games from Glencolmcille and Donegal town but none too problematic, while there were some issues with the audio at the Eunans v Realt game in Letterkenny. Nevertheless, while there are adverse comments on social media re other games we also got plenty of positive feedback from Donegal, elsewhere in Ireland and overseas.
Where subscribers experienced problems with games other than those listed above, I can only surmise these reflect signal at their end. Where a premises has poor wifi, or there are other demands on it simultaneously, such as Netflix running in the room next door it will affect your download. The County Board sympathise completely – we are putting a lot of effort into getting our product right and want fans to enjoy it but there is no magic wand involved in streaming from DonegalGAA.ie that is going to fix this issue. If your signal has problems then your stream will have problems.
For this coming weekend, we again hope to stream all the knockout games either on a PPV basis or perhaps with some clubs streaming free to air. Again, I know all involved will be doing their utmost to bring the best possible service in terms of video quality, commentary and analysis but I warn again that we are operating in a fickle environment involving many variables some of which can go wrong. Please be patient as in the event of any issues arising subscribers can be assured that our teams will be working hard to minimise disruption and get coverage back up and running.