The number of people who watched last week’s win for Ireland over Russia at the Rugby World Cup via a live stream was the same as the average number who watched the programme on TV.
Given the timing with an 1115 kick off on a working and school day, in a game Ireland were expected to win, it is not a surprise that the number dipped considerably from the weekend highs of the two previous games.
It is in the way in which we are watching though that you can see the greatest amount of change.
For the opening win over Scotland, there were 127,000 live streams on the RTÉ Player and an average audience on TV of 640,000 with a peak of 937,600.
For the Japan game, the number of streams rose to 192,000. The average TV audience dipped to 622,000 and the peak to 893,000.
Now for Russia, the number of streams soared again to 308,000, matching eyeball for eyeball the average number of those who watched with a peak of 559,000.
Those streaming figures represent step changes of 51 per cent and 60 per cent in the space of less than two weeks.
The numbers will rise again for the big box when the Ireland match schedule reverts to weekends for sure this coming Saturday and then hopefully the following weekend as well.
Once people have seen though that is is perfectly acceptable to watch a game on your computer or on your phone, that is a rubicon moment.
Younger generations who consume the majority of their content on smaller screens reached that conclusion a long time ago with the advent of smartphones and improvements in technology. Now older groups are catching up.
There will always be the social and the communal thrill of watching a game as one with family, friends or even complete strangers. The success of Italia ’90 as a seminal moment in Irish history was down to us all watching Bill O’Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy at the same time and in groups.
That level of communality may not come back again, which is a shame in many ways but the price we pay for being ever more connected at the same time as becoming ever more self-reliant.
Last Thursday, the events that unfolded on a Japanese Rugby pitch may be seen as an important moment in that transition.
Image Credit: Inpho.ie, Dan Sheridan