This is our in-depth analysis of all the moves in the advertising market around the RBS Six Nations:

While the 2016 Six Nations will be forgettable for most Irish fans, the very fact that the Irish team did not reach the highs of 2014 or 2015 throws up some interesting questions for analysis. We have taken a look at the viewership levels from the tournament to find out if fans turned off or continued to turn on in massive numbers, and how this impacted on advertising revenue. In particular was RTE able to continue the peak viewing levels of Ireland’s successful 2015 Championship or was there some audience fatigue after the 2015 Rugby World Cup?

The good news for RTE is that our estimate of advertising revenue for the 15 live matches was €2.09M, this was up 25% from Livewire’s 2015 estimate of €1.67M. Demand was high on the back of the successful Rugby World Cup and spots were sold in various premium packages, where advertisers could avail of centre breaks in all 15 live matches, in the 5 Ireland games or in individual Ireland games.  Advertisers were charged €70,000 for 30 second Ireland packages.

The top advertiser was Ulster Bank, who along with its broadcast sponsorship of the RBS 6 Nations on RTE TV, launched its brand campaign “Help For What Matters” with 60 second advertising support among the breaks. The brand was also one of the first to use the 20 second “squeeze back” technique at the kick off.

Another innovation in the RBS 6 Nations was Three’s 3 minute Solus break in the lead up to Ireland’s first game. The spot was used by the telco to support its campaign against homelessness with Focus Ireland. After Ulster Bank, Diageo and Hyundai were the second and third highest spenders.

The top categories of advertiser during the tournament were as follows:


A total of 436 spots were broadcast during the matches and delivered 2,959 adult TVRs – down 10% on the 2015 season.  There was no real change in viewership for Men 15-34’s with 3,120 TVRs delivered to advertisers – down just 1%.  This suggests that while the rugby still held its appeal for the core target of young men, Ireland’s poorer performance this year failed to pull in the broader audiences as Ireland’s 6 Nations campaign progressed.

The Championship started off well with the keenly awaited match against Wales – it proved quite a thriller and delivered the Championship’s top rating ad break at 638,080 adults.  The peak in 2015 was 748,970 adults in the Ireland v. England match – a drop of 110,000 adults.  Audiences flagged for the England show-down in Twickenham this year, with the centre break being watched by 385,270 adults – nearly 50% less viewers than in 2015.

So, in summary, RTE managed to capitalise on the momentum of Ireland’s recent success by pulling in advertising revenue, however, the viewers did not follow. Ireland’s campaign started off with high hopes and viewers to match but as the weeks elapsed, so too did the audiences. Only time will tell if the “failure” to win the 2016 edition will impact both on viewers and revenue for the 2017 tournament, RTE’s last before TV3 take up the reigns.