Each Wednesday 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…

 

LIVERPOOL UNITED SETS NEW PPV HIGH

Sunday’s English Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United has become the most-watched single event to be broadcast only on Sky Sports.

The peak audience in the closing minutes hit 4.8 million while the average throughout the game was 4.5 million.

Only Liverpool and Everton in June of 2020 was higher but that was shown across multiple Sky channels and with a free to air element as well.

The match achieved a 25 per cent share of the total UK viewing audience and 41 per cent of those watching Sky at the time. Only Game of Thrones out of any Sky programming has achieved higher numbers.

 

VIRGIN SCHEDULE MAJORS ON SPORT

Virgin Media unveiled its new spring schedule in recent days and sport is very much to the fore.

The Guinness Six nations is the cornerstone of the weekend programming with five weekend dedicated to the broadcast of all games live and free to air.

This is the final year of the current cycle of media contracts and who knows what will emerge should the mooted CVC investment come to fruition in the coming weeks.

For two decades now the cream of Rugby at club level has been played out behind a media paywall, fine for those who can afford it, and undoubtedly the way in which media rights are going but still running the risk of taking it away from being an integral part of the national sporting conversation.

Rugby has thrived in the period, but the national team has been the driver of that in terms of income and support. If it all goes pay per view the delicate ecosystem of fan engagement could yet be knocked off kilter.

Virgin will also show all the highs of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League as they remain on track for a more normal schedule than was the case a year ago.

 

RESCHEDULED RUGBY FILLS WEEKEND GAP

The quick rescheduling of Guinness PRO14 matches this coming weekend has filled gaps across the TV schedule with Leinster and Munster being shown live on eir Sport 1 and deferred on TG4, and Connacht’s match on Sunday against Ospreys going at live at 3 PM on TG4.

The games fill the blank weekend that would otherwise have been dominated by the closing rounds of the Heineken European Champions Cup.

 

TOP 50 PROGRAMMES OF THE YEAR

Last week we carried the story about the Top 50 Programmes broadcast on Irish TV in 2020.

Read our coverage in full here.

The All Ireland Football and Hurling Finals on RTÉ, as well as the Guinness Six Nations decider between France and Ireland, all made the Top 10 but that total was down from seven and six in 2019 and 2018.

News programmes clearly made much more of an impact in the year that was in it with four programmes making the Top 10, including Leo Varadkar’s broadcast announcing lockdown on St Patrick’s Day.

The audience for both of the All Ireland Finals was down on the previous year, with their being held in December as opposed to earlier in the year the most likely reason for the drop.

The average audience for the Football, which was the fifth most-watched programme in the overall list, was 876,000, down from the average of 989,000 that watched the original game and the replay of the 2019 decider between Dublin and Kerry.

In the hurling, the number who tuned in for Limerick against Waterford, putting it into tenth place, was 712,000, down from the 829,000 who watched Tipperary beat Kilkenny the previous year.

Both of the football and one of the Hurling Semi-Finals also made the final list.

 

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