If ever there was any doubt that we are a nation of sporting addicts the publication of the 50 most watched programmes on Irish TV in 2018 certainly dispelled that.
With six of the Top 10 programmes, ten of the Top 20 and an overall 26 of the Top 50, our love of the big occasion in Rugby, Gaelic Games and Football has been presented in clear evidence.
The Grand Slam decider against England on St Patricks’s Day was the second most watched programme of the year with 975,000 viewers tuning in, beaten only by the Late Late Toy Show and giving Virgin Media one of its highest ever appearances on the list.
RTÉ’s broadcast of the Guinness Series win over the All Blacks in November was third, just ahead of The FIFA World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia in fourth.
Hurling won out over Football in GAA terms this year with 854,000 tuning into Limerick’s All Ireland win over Galway and 841,000 for Dublin’s over Tyrone.
We wrote earlier in the year about how that had been a constant over the summer months and the semi-final in the Hurling Championship between Cork and Limerick was the only other GAA match to feature in a year dominated by the World Cup.
The shift to an earlier finish to the season may have had an impact on the football, together with a degree of apathy over Dublin’s dominance. Both semi-finals in last year’s Championship made the Top 20 programmes while the final itself attracted an audience that was 300,000 bigger for the game against Mayo.
Lest anyone jump to conclusions though, a comparison to the figures from the last FIFA World Cup year in 2014 shows that both the Football and Hurling Final audiences were higher last year than they were then.
Sometimes these figures are a case of swings and roundabouts.
The football from Russia took ten of the Top 50 spots including all of England’s games and even Brazil against Switzerland from the Group stages.
Four games featuring Liverpool in the Champions League split equally between RTÉand Virgin also made the list alongside all five of Ireland’s games in the Nat West Six Nations.
Here is the full list of the Top 50 most-watched programmes across 2018.