When TG4 hosts the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) between France and South Korea next Friday, it should mark the beginning of a new era for Irish coverage of the event and a huge leap forward in the world Women’s sport is determined.
For the first time, each of the 52 games will be shown on Irish television, with the games split between RTÉ2 and TG4.
So far, RTÉ’s only live coverage of the WWC was the 2007 final between Germany and Brazil, which aired online for the station in the early days of streaming. Neither the rights to the tournaments in 2011 nor to the 2015 tournaments were acquired.
“There is a desire to see more women’s sport,” says Declan McBennett, head of sports for the RTÉ group, who described the performance of the Irish women’s squad at their World Cup last summer and is watched by an average of 381,500 spectators on RTÉ. a groundbreaking moment “.
Given the increasing popularity of women’s football, the French stadiums are expected to be full, adding to the atmosphere of the broadcasts, McBennett says. He estimates that audience attention for the tournament will increase during the month despite the absence of an Irish team.
“Women’s football is facing something great,” says McBennett. “I think we went over the toe in the water or wondered if people would see it. The only question is how big your interest is. “
The entire RTÉ line-up of experts and commentators will be announced on Tuesday in a special launch. Jacqui Hurley, who anchors RTÉ’s news in exchange with Darragh Moloney and Peter Collins, says it will “look and feel like the men’s World Cup”. from 2018.
Hurley had no opportunity to see women playing football on television in her teens, and is pleased that this generation of players today can inspire young girls. The standard of the game has also improved massively in recent years, she emphasized the quality of the Champions League final, in which Lyon won against Barcelona.
Hurley says the Republic of Ireland was unlucky to be drawn to Norway and the Netherlands in their qualifying group, which finished third and failed to reach the final. She hopes for her chances in the forthcoming qualification campaign for the Uefa Women ‘s Euro 2021, which will take place in England.
“I think they are about to qualify for a big tournament.”
The sponsorship interest in the eighth WWC has increased, while FIFA has doubled its prize money to some $ 30 million (27 million euros) – though this is only a fraction of the $ 448 million potion at last year’s men’s tournament in Russia.
The USA, three-time winner and current defending champion, are favorites to be champions again this year. The team made headlines for off-pitch reasons in March when it sued the US Football Association for sex discrimination. The national organization, despite its superior performance, paid them less than the men’s team and provided them with inferior facilities.
“Anything they make from the pitch will only strengthen them,” says Hurley.
“I have to say that I like England’s chances,” she adds, noting that England’s women, like the men’s team, have had some of their heartbreak in the past.
Schedule OF Broadcasting
Although RTÉ are the primary rightholders, more WWC games will run on TG4 due to scheduling conflicts with GAA games and other programs.
RTÉ is showing 23 games, including three of the quarter-finals, a semi-final and the final on 7 July. TG4 will show 29 games, including more of the weekend games.
“We sat down with their planners and worked it up game by game,” says McBennett.
Both RTÉ and TG4 support the 20×20 initiative “If It Does not See It, It Can not Be It,” developed by the creative agency Along Came a Spider and taken over by the Federation of Irish Sport. His goals include increasing media coverage of women’s sports by 20 percent by the end of 2020.
“Our commitment to women’s sports will increase,” promises McBennett.
Of course, it helps that some of the leading Irish sports personalities are female. The most famous of them, Katie Taylor, attracts 1.1 million viewers to their fight for the London 2012 Gold Medal. An audience of this size on Irish television is rare.
“Things have definitely changed in the last few years,” Hurley says of the greater attention paid to women’s sports. She also cites “a concerted effort” to engage female experts on broadcasters’ coverage of men’s sports.
“There are still things we can do better, but it is improving,” she says. At the moment she is looking forward to “amazing stories and amazing football” in France.