The SSE Airtricity League will stagger matches over the weekend on its return in three weeks time to accommodate live streaming and broadcast of games.
RTÉ Sport and eir Sport have the exclusive domestic rights to broadcast games and are expected to show one game each from each of the 13 rounds of the Premier Division, as well as the play-off games.
All other matches will be streamed online though details have yet to be confirmed on how they will be delivered.
Part of the agreement between the FAI and the 19 clubs that has enabled the return to action is that income will be shared across all 19 of the clubs.
Where the income is derived from will be key.
A crude analysis of attendance data from ExtraTime.ie would suggest that the average aggregate weekly attendance at matches in the Premier Division would be around 10,500 with an additional 3,000 going to First Division matches. If 20 per cent of them are season ticket holders, who will need to be accommodated with free access to the streaming, that leaves a potential 10,800 who would normally pay to watch games as a core audience for streaming.
This is reduced by the number of family and friends that would choose to watch together so we could conservatively reduce the number by two thirds, leaving 3,700 or so core subscriptions.
Let us assume that the regular TV audience for live sport would embrace the opportunity to watch.
The average viewership for League matches on RTÉ in recent years could be estimated at 70,000 while 91,000 tuned into the opening match of the U17 European Championships hosted here last year.
Let us conservatively assume that most of the 630,000 that tuned into Liverpool against Barcelona in the Champions’ League at the same period would not pay extra to watch domestic football but that maybe ten per cent of the more casual fans might, that is potentially and extra 50,000.
In total then the universe figure of a potential audience who might be interested in watching the 39 games of the 65 that will not be shown on RTÉ or eir Sport is around 125,000.
Take a figure of €2 per round of games, which could be packaged up as attractive and you have an income from that of €3.25 million.
Costs of €30,000 per game to cover the required quality of a broadcast and transmission would come to €1.17 million leaving a gross figure to be divided between clubs of little over €2 million, divided 19 ways that would give a little over €100,000, if it was divided on a 2:1 ratio giving more to the Premier Division clubs that would be staging the games then it comes to around €140,000 for each Premier League club and around €77,000 for each of the nine First Division Clubs.
That’s not a bad return if all those elements came through.
It also sets a precedent for longer term revenue in a more normal season, with different pricing models applied. And it puts the League into the homes and onto the screens of fans who may be smitten by what they see and fall in love with the domestic game alongside or even in place of their devotion to distant clubs from across the water.
It is worth the effort that has gone into getting the League back.