American football has never been more popular in Ireland. Interest in the sport has been steadily increasing over the past several years, but it’s really taken off in recent months. Attendance of Irish fans at the college game in the Aviva in September as well as the announcement of an NFL Fan Watch Party in Croke Park in November are strong indicators of just how much demand there is from Irish American football fans to watch their favorite teams in action. So why isn’t American football being broadcast on Irish television?
With the level of coverage the sport has been receiving in Irish media lately, it’s a wonder that RTE or Virgin Media haven’t launched their own proprietary American football broadcasts. Granted, the latter showed the Super Bowl in February and will also have the London game this weekend live on Virgin Media 3 – but that’s just using ITV’s coverage. There is no actual Irish TV channel currently showing the NFL. Instead, Irish American football fans have to rely on the likes of Sky Sports and NFL Game Pass to get their gridiron fix. Big things are happening for American football in Ireland. And our nation’s broadcasters need to get on board.
Our small Island is progressively becoming more prominent in the landscape of professional American football. We already have one ex-pat playing in the NFL (Dan Whelan of the Green Bay Packers) as well as a strong pipeline of potential future pro punters. And let’s not forget about Tomi doing his thing in the European League of Football. We wouldn’t be shocked to see him playing across the pond one day. Add to all this the prospect of a regular season NFL game on Irish soil in the not so distant future, and you have to wonder what’s stopping the likes of RTE or even TG4 from introducing some sort of coverage. RTE has shown the Super Bowl before (wayyy back in the 80’s and 90’s) so what’s stopping them from doing it again?
If the incredible work that has already been done in Ireland to make American football
mainstream is to be capitalized on, more support is needed from Ireland’s national broadcasters. While there is a strong community of podcasters and content creators driving the growth of the game here, large scale television investment would be a difference maker. Even if they started out with just a highlights show, it would be enough to attract and engage new and existing fans. Once they see the tangible demand for more (and they will) it’s a no brainer to show full games at weekends throughout the season.
But for now, and until someone gets their act together, we’re reliant on expensive tv and streaming packages so that we can watch our favourite teams play. Here’s hoping that changes soon!