Each week we take a look at the world of the Irish and international sports media, the stories, the numbers and the organisations that are, more than ever before, our window on the world of sport…





We imagined that with fans unable to attend matches and prevented from doing many of the alternatives to watching them, that TV numbers might have spiked over the Covid period.

Early evidence from the US though suggests this is not the case and maybe the fans as part of the viewing experience is more important than anyone thought.

Last Sunday’s NFL game which brought Tom Brady back to the home of the New England Patriots as an opposition team member was always likely to be a winner and proved so recording the second-highest ever audience for a regular-season Sunday night game.

28.5 million viewers tuned in for the game but the underlying numbers from the US have been equally impressive.

In week three, the Monday Night Football slot between Dallas and Philadelphia was the most-watched since 2012, and 40 per cent ahead of where it was in 2019.

The comparison between live sport and ‘the rest was staggering that same week.

21.1 million tuned in for Sunday night football while the seven new drama series that aired for the first time on network television that same week brought in a total of only 3.73 million viewers.

That’s why sport is considered so important by broadcasters and obviously by the viewers.





The opening weekend of the United Rugby Championship attracted a record number of viewers for a single league round.

Early figures show that domestic audiences alone surpassed the old global record of 853,511 from a derby round in 2017/18 and will continue to climb until all consolidated reports and international viewing figures are in.

Round 1 of the URC represented the first airing for the league’s new hybrid model of Free-to-Air (FTA), Pay TV and OTT which is geared towards making the sport as accessible as possible in its core territories and in international markets.

Providing Free To Air access is a fundamental component of the URC’s new broadcast strategy and is rooted in fan feedback projects which identified increased visibility in domestic markets as a priority for the new league.

Round 1 saw the return of RTÉ and BBC Wales which complemented the reach of existing partners TG4 and S4C while BBC Northern Ireland will screen league action once again when they begin their coverage in Round 3.

Mediaset also made its debut in Italy as FTA access made a welcome return with a strong opening audience.

In the UK, Premier Sports continue to be the only place to watch all 151 URC games live while they also began their non-exclusive Irish coverage for the first time.

SuperSport brought the new league into the homes of fans in South Africa for the first time as all four of their teams made their bow in the URC.

Round 1 also marked the successful launch of URC TV, the league’s OTT streaming service that is available domestically in the Republic of Ireland and internationally where fans in the US, Australia and many other worldwide territories can watch all of their team’s games live and on-demand throughout the season.






The shortlist for the SportsPro OTT Awards was announced this week and there was an Irish presence on the roll of honour.

Dublin agency and Sport for Business member Fifty-Three Six were celebrating as the work they did on the launch of the Rugby Network in the US market.

“Fifty-Three Six worked with RugbyPass and Major League Rugby to drive awareness of The Rugby Network and bring subscribers to the new OTT platform,” said co-founder Tom Fox.

“Based on historical campaign data, industry trends analysis and consumer research, we devised a holistic digital strategy to drive awareness, scale and OTT sign-ups across key global markets.”

“Through rigorous market research and a deep-dive into Rugby Pass’ existing website and subscription data, we found success by developing a bespoke conversion pathway from awareness to consideration, to onsite sign-up.”

“As a result, Fifty-Three Six’s paid digital campaign delivered over 56,000 visitors to The Rugby Network’s website with 6,190 sign-ups at a £6.19 CPA, 200% over our initial target set by RugbyPass and MLR.”

Joymo, who are working with Basketball Ireland for the new season have been nominated in the Best Emerging Tech Company category.

The main award of Platform of the Year will be determined between The Rugby Network, DAZN, Optus Sport, Olympics.com, UFC Fight Pass and Tennis Channel International.

The winners will be announced on November 15th and we will bring you highlights of the winners at that time.





BBC NI is to show 30 live-streamed Danske Bank Premiership matches and eight live games on TV each season as part of a new deal with the Northern Ireland Football League and the Irish FA.

As part of the new agreement, BBC Radio Ulster will continue its live commentary of games in the Premiership, the Irish Cup and BetMcLean League Cup. BBC Sport NI will also have comprehensive updates, reports and the latest news across its digital platforms.

With fans largely absent from grounds during the pandemic, BBC Sport NI live-streamed NIFL Premiership matches for the first time.

Last season there were over one million requests for BBC NI’s live streaming and highlights coverage of the NIFL Premiership on BBC iPlayer. In addition, there were more than 1.5 million page views of live NIFL Premiership content on the BBC Sport NI website.

The first live-streamed game of the season will feature Glentoran v Coleraine on Saturday 16 October followed a week later by Dungannon Swifts v Carrick Rangers on Friday night (22 October).





Last Friday was the last day of Cliona O’Leary’s tenure as Deputy Head of Sport – TV at RTÉ.

She has been a key player at Montrose since she first walked through the doors in 1997 but has chosen to take a step back and take time to work on the next chapter of her life and career.

She has featured in every year of our 50 Women of Influence in Irish Sport and has been that for as long as we have had the pleasure to know her.

Throughout her time at RTÉ she has been an editor on all the major sports and served as the away team leader at both the Olympic Games of Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016.

She has served as Chair of the European Broadcasting Union’s Women in Sport Expert Group, was RTÉ’s internal and external champion of the 20X20 Campaign and has been a powerful advocate for great sport, and for the role of women within that environment throughout her career to date.

She was a key player in ensuring that the exploits of the Women’s Hockey Team’s march to a first ever World Cup Final was shown on our screens and that the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Irish Women’s National Team were part of our sporting experience.

She pushed hard to ensure that Camogie not only retained but expanded its place on the RTÉ summer schedule and that female voices became a regular and accepted part of analysis and commentary of Men’s and Women’s sports coverage.

She completed a First Class Masters Degree in UCD focused on the role of Sports Coaches in Young People’s Mental Health, and will for now have more time to put that into practice at Ranelagh Gaels GAA Club.

Her experience, knowledge and passion have been a guiding influence over sport here for as long as Sport for Business has been in existence. She has always been an advocate for what we do and a good friend.

We are not alone in wishing her well for whatever comes next and hoping that it will be something where we can cross paths again in a professional capacity.





Earlier in the summer Sport for Business hosted Streaming Sport 2021.

No single factor has emerged as a bigger opportunity for sport, and a bigger positive for fans than the growth of awareness of what streaming is capable of.

From professional leagues to local clubs, streaming technology has democratised the ability to deliver live sporting content to audiences at local and global level.

We were joined by a host of experts from the sector to look under the covers of what the streaming revolution will mean for sporting bodies, sponsors, fans and media companies.

You can look back on each of the sessions here.





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