TV3 have expressed themselves pleased with viewing figures from Saturday’s opening day of its coverage of the Nat West 6 Nations.
There is still some way to go though in comparison with eqivalent figures over the past two years from RTÉ.
There was a peak viewership on Saturday’s game against France of 789,000 but the average number of viewers, deemed to be a more standard measure, was 572,000.
The game against France last year was RTÉ’s biggest viewership in the 6 Nations with an average viewership of 823,000. This made it the seventh most watched programme of the year in 2017 and was itself a massive increase on the average of 672,000 who watched the game in Paris in 2016.
A fairer comparison with Saturday might be the equivalent opening weekend match away to Scotland last year which drew an average audience over the course of the game of 672,000.
The 15 per cent gap in those numbers on opening weekend can in part be explained by an unfamiliarity yet with TV3 winning the rights, at least among the broader market of uncommited viewers.
There is also the natural advantage that RTÉ would have in terms of overall market share and ability to promote the coverage through their opther programming during the weeks leading up to the day.
In 2016 when Ireland last played host to Italy, the average viewer number was lower at 505,000 so a fair target for TV3 next Saturday might be to keep to that 15 percent gap and draw an audience of 430,000.
The drama of Johnathan Sexton’s last-second Drop Goal to win the game will have boosted interest in the tournament with Ireland now deemed to have a realistic ambition of winning the Championship and perhaps even the Grand Slam.
That would be a remarkable win for TV3 to have success in year one. Then again the may be a lucky charm as the closing minutes on Saturday were among the most dramatic for Ireland in the Championship since winning it in 2015 or perhaps even since the Grand Slam and that other famous Drop Goal in 2009.
Image Credit Ramsey Cardy, Sportsfile