RTÉ defend scrapping League of Ireland highlights show

Rté Defend Scrapping League Of Ireland Highlights Show Rté Defend Scrapping League Of Ireland Highlights Show
RTÉ has defended its decision to cancel Soccer Republic.
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James Cox

RTÉ has defended the decision to cancel League of Ireland highlights show Soccer Republic.

Group Head of Sport Declan McBennett said the show was “no longer feasible”.

However, the WATCHLOI streaming service, which had been in doubt, has been extended.

McBennett said: “A highlights programme with a small audience is no longer feasible from a League of Ireland perspective.

“It is essentially for two reasons. We know, and everything points to, since the advent of digital, there are two ways to consume sport. There is live which is the preferred option for 90% of the audience and then there is digital through social media which is immediate.

“In the last number of seasons one of the things the clubs wanted was instant access to their goals so they could make them available to supporters and fans immediately. RTÉ made that available and possible. Highlights never do as well and continue to decline in terms of people engaging, with two exceptions.


“They are Match of the Day which has a multi-million following in the UK and The Sunday Game which is a blue-chip product from an RTÉ perspective. In general the overwhelming evidence points to the fact people engage with sport live or digitally.

“We have to decide at a time when the FAI have particular financial concerns and RTÉ have well-documented financial concerns, we have to decide what the best use of reduced financial resources are."


He added: "We are absolutely adamant and categoric that the best use of those resources is the provision of live sport to people. We take the money available to us and help with the production of WATCHLOI. We did 81 games last year and will do close to 60 this season.

“The numbers engaging with Soccer Republic had been declining, as is the case of most highlights programmes, for a number of years.

“When you have to deal with scarce resources and reduced resources, you have decisions to make. RTÉ and I had a decision to make on which is the best way to engage with the fans and the best way to bring soccer to people.

“Certainly in a Covid environment, the best way to do it is bring live games. People have made a decision that live is the way they view and their decision influences our decision, not the other way around. If the highlights programmes were doing extremely well, we would continue with that. But it isn’t and we have to look at the best use of our resources. The fans undoubtedly across all sports want live and digital access.”

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