Every minute of every game will be shown live on RTÉ over the course of the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Qatar in just over two weeks time.
It is taking place at a bizarre time of the year in a country that has no tradition or culture in the sport but it is still the World Cup and like every edition that has gone before it will capture the imagination of the world.
3.6 Billion people tuned in to watch the last time it was played, in Russia in 2018 and the expectation is that this will be another record breaker.
An RTÉ insider yesterday told us that this was being played at peak TV viewing time, without the usual counterattraction of long evenings and summer holidays.
Even the RTÉ Toy Show will catch a break coming on air after coverage of the final game of the day on November 25th, the small matter of England against the USA.
Match times will be at 10 AM, 1 PM, 4 PM and 7 PM for the first rounds of group games then at 3 PM and 7 PM for the remainder of the competition.
There will be seventeen days of consecutive action from the opening day of November 20th, with four games each day until we get to the Quarter Finals.
It will be some feast of action.
In 2018 England’s semi-final defeat to Croatia was the third most-watched sports programme of the year, drawing an audience of 924,000 to the screen. The World Cup Final was watched by 654,000 and eight other games featured in the Top 50 most-watched programmes of the year.
This year’s coverage will be sponsored by Hyundai and KFC, a story we will explore further on Sport for Business next week.
It will not just be about the football. Analyst Richie Sadlier told us yesterday that while football will be the central story of this World Cup, we cannot ignore the stories around Qatar, from construction fatalities and awarding corruption, to LGBT rights and more.
“Media coverage cannot ignore these stories or we would be selling ourselves and our audience short,” he said.
RTÉ Soccer Correspondent Tony O’Donoghue will be reporting from Qatar on all platforms on the build-up to the World Cup and the issues surrounding this most controversial tournament.
At a launch in House, Leeson St, Dublin, details of the team of coverage, panelists, presenters, and commentators were announced to the media. Joanne Cantwell, Clare MacNamara and Peter Collins will present the live coverage alongside panellists Shay Given, Richie Sadlier, Liam Brady, Didi Hamann, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle and others.
RTÉ Sport’s commentary team of Darragh Maloney, George Hamilton, Des Curran, Adrian Eames, John Kenny and others will be joined by co-commentators Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Stephen Kelly, Kenny Cunningham, Áine O’ Gorman and more through the tournament.
RTÉ Sport will offer unrivalled digital coverage of the World Cup, with live blogs of every game on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app. Highlights of every goal available on the RTÉ Soccer Twitter account, analysis, and punditry on RTÉ Sport Facebook and YouTube, along with daily podcasts. Keep across all the breaking news with our dedicated World Cup page, which will contain fixtures, results and up to date tables, as well as features, interviews and analysis of matters on and off the pitch.
“RTÉ has brought audiences across Ireland a feast of live sport over these past months and that is set to continue in the weeks ahead as our main focus turns to the World Cup,” said Director General Dee Forbes.
“With all 64 games exclusively live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player culminating in the FIFA World Cup 2022™ Final on 18th December there are almost 200 hours of the very best live World Cup coverage for sports fans all over the country to look forward to, along with plenty of great discussion and analysis.”
“Beyond the football, the World Cup as the biggest sporting event in the world, always brings a spotlight on the host country’s society, culture and people. This year that focus will be especially important.”
“The World Cup remains one of the defining global sporting events. This tournament will be scrutinised like never before and both on and off the pitch our coverage will reflect that,” added Group Head of Sport Declan McBennett.
“The talent and exploits of the players will light up the tournament set against the backdrop of a nation and a society which will have the eyes of the world upon them for how they treat their citizens and their visitors.”