A comparison of the number of TV viewers and those who attended last September's All-Ireland finals is a useful place to start. Table 1 below shows that for the All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo there was 12.65 people who watched the game on RTE TV for each member of the public inside Croke Park on the day. The ratio for the drawn and replayed hurling games are 10.84 and 7.56 respectively. The lower figure for the replay is influenced by it being broadcast on a Saturday evening.
A feature of All-Ireland finals is that, as designated sporting events, they have to be broadcast on free-to-air TV according to the Irish application of the Television Without Frontiers directive. Therefore, there is not a decision about whether or not to put these events on TV. However, when games that are not designated events are not on TV then there is a loss of viewers. We can approximate the ratio of TV viewers to those attending by repeating the above analysis for other games. It is an approximation because it is difficult to say how many did not attend the games because they could watch it TV. I did this a number of years ago for about 160 games during the 2006-9 seasons. The ratios of viewers to attendees is presented in Figure 1.
At present the GAA games tend to be scheduled and broadcast on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The above numbers are for games on such "slots". Where one of these slots are left without a free-to-air TV game then the GAA is missing out on promoting inter-county games. However, even here the analysis is approximate, as it could be argued that a day free of inter-county games on TV provides a chance for people to go to a club game.