Opinion: 'More money could mean less crowds for PRO14' - Donn O'Sullivan

Donn O'Sullivan

Reporter:

Donn O'Sullivan

Email:

donn.osullivan@limerickleader.ie

Opinion: 'More money could mean less crowds for PRO14' - Donn O'Sullivan

The PRO14 could be selling a stake of their company

Nothing beats being there. The motto of the GAA, an organisation who are looking to get more people in the gate at games. It is a hard fight. Something the PRO14 are learning year on year.

Last weekend over 10,000 people went to watch Munster play Benetton in a knock out game of rugby. Some may call that a small crowd, but when compared to other sides in the competition, it is very high for a game with one week lead in time.

However the fact remains, if that was a home quarter final in the Champions Cup, the game would have been sold out. So the questions then remain, what must the PRO14 do to get those crowds? Does it even want the crowds? Do modern day sports really want fans in the stadiums? Or do they just want them to pay for subscription TV channels, which will eventually see a trickle down of cash to the teams?

CVC Capital Partners recently bought 27 per cent of the Gallagher Premiership for about £220 million and is poised to complete a £120 million deal for a similar share of the Guinness PRO14 within the next few weeks.

The man tasked with leading the ‘new look Premiership’ is Darren Childs, the former CEO of UKTV, Britain’s biggest multi-channel broadcaster.

According to Rugbypass.com “Childs has an extensive background in the media industry, not only enjoying significant success in his current role with UKTV, which includes increasing its revenue by 66% and almost tripling the group’s profits, but he has also worked with media giants such as MTV, HBO and the BBC”

See where this is going?

TV is the future, indeed it might not even be TV. Tennis has moved to streaming services, you could even watch PRO14 matches this season on YouTube and Facebook.

There are Golf tournaments and NFL games on Twitter now too.

So, should you pack the kids in the car, buy the tickets, spend for fuel, buy the food, battle the traffic or just sit at a home or even watch on your phone as you walk? That is now the question for the fans.

With a new deal coming for PRO14 clubs, they should have more money to spend on marquee players, however, much like football in the UK, the more TV money that comes in, the more money the people already involved will want. Better contracts for players and coaches to start.

The CVC deal will raise the profile of the league, but will it damage the golden goose that is the Champions Cup? Fans and media will just have to wait and see, or stream.