Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, has begun the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport.
This is not about Women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport. We will identify leaders on and off the field of play. They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play. They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful.
In an era of sport where broadcast rights command fees previously un heard of, and from broadcast giants across new media that did not exist ten years ago, the impact of the media on how sport is funded, consumed and imagined is second to none.
Dee Forbes became Director general of RTÉ in 2016 and has embarked on the most comprehensive review of what the broadcaster is, how it sees itself as part of Irish society and how we see it.
Sport is part of that review. Some of the old certainties are breaking down. TV3 won the right to broadcast the last Rugby World Cup, eir Sport has the rights to the 2019 edition. TV3 has also won away the rights to broadcast the Six Nations from next season, and in partnership with a new deal for British horse racing, was the channel through which the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree grand National were seen in Ireland in recent weeks.
But RTÉ is still the network that delivers the most eyeballs and the sharpest cut through. Its combination of TV, Radio and online is attuned already to the different ways that new audiences are consuming content.
RTÉ’s wresting back exclusive radio rights and a long term package of TV and digital rights with the GAA for the next five years is underpinned by the ongoing partnership in terms of OTT streaming of games to overseas territories through the ground breaking GAAGo.
Dee Forbes knows and understand the importance of sport. She was a senior executive in Discovery when they signed a €1.3 Billion deal to bring Olympics coverage away from the European Broadcasting Union. She is a passionate fan of Munster Rugby and has been involved on the commercial board for that organisation.
Sport through individuals like Ryle Nugent and Cliona O’Leary will need to ‘Stand up and Fight’ to make sure of its importance within the new future that Forbes is creating at RTÉ. But if it does it will be given a fair hearing.
For 2017 we are extending the recognition given to women who are taking a lead role in sport by also identifying 50 of the next generation that are coming through, at pace, to make their mark within sport.
We want your help in making sure that this list is representative and you can make your nominations for who you think should be included right here.