Shortly after the curtains came down on what was a momentous win for the Irish Rugby team over England, a montage from the many years of RTÉ’s coverage of the 6 Nations filled our screens. However, this nostalgic review of many of the greatest moments in Irish rugby history was not only a final call for Ryle Nugent and his sports team in RTÉ for this competition for the near future, it was also a stark reminder of the mightily large boots which TV3 must fill. We also bid RBS adieu as title sponsors, who were strongly supported by Ulster Bank in this market. It will certainly be hard to imagine the tournament being named after any other brand.
1.RTÉ’s 6 Nations Viewership
Given the high level of interest from Irish fans on the back of the TV documentary ‘Four Days in November’, it is perhaps not surprising that RTÉ’s live TV average viewership levels for this year’s 6 Nations surpassed those for the 2016 tournament.
60% of the available television audience tuned in on Saturday evening (March 18th) to watch RTÉ’s live coverage of Ireland v England, an average audience of 753k. This is an impressive 19% increase on the same fixture in 2016, but did not represent the highest number of viewers for Ireland’s 2017 6 Nations campaign; that award goes to Ireland v France with an average audience of 823k.
2. Friday Night Lights
Ireland’s first game played on a Friday night in the tournament also saw a dramatic increase in average viewership for this game. Although Wales has said no more to Friday night rugby, (according to WRU Chairman Gareth Davies), it is evident that the Irish fans flocked to their TV’s post work to watch the game, with an average viewership increase of 228k versus the 2016 fixture.
3.RTÉ’s Women’s & Under 20’s Coverage
RTÉ also increased their coverage of the Irish Women’s 6 Nations campaign this year, broadcasting every game to an increasing fan base and seeing average viewership peak for the Ireland v England game at 185k. This kick started RTÉ’s build up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup, being held in Ireland in August 2017, as the broadcaster will televise all of Ireland’s group games.
The Under 20’s tournament also saw similar average viewership levels to the women’s games. Ireland v Scotland U20’s saw an average viewership of 158k, while Ireland v Wales U20’s generated an average viewership of 147k.
After five jam packed rugby weekends, with 45 matches and 255 tries, the time has arrived for TV3 to bring their new and innovative approach to their broadcast of the Six Nations Championship.
4.TV3 – Take Over
This significant position of broadcaster for this unique tournament should be in good hands. TV3 brought us rugby’s largest global spectacle in the form of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. With an average of 1.15 million individuals – peaking at 1.4 million tuning in to watch Ireland beat France, and breaking TV3’s viewing record in the process, TV3 understands the passion and importance of broadcasting such occasions to the Irish audience. With average viewership over the course of the World Cup tournament for Irish matches at 912k individuals, it is fair to say that the 2015 Rugby World Cup was a ratings success for TV3. It is estimated that TV3 generated over €6m in revenue from advertising and sponsorship combined over the course of the tournament.
Livewire believes that TV3 will bring a fresh and unique perspective to the 2018 6 Nations and like RTÉ, will bring us closer to the action like never before. It will also be interesting to see if AFP’s (Advertiser Funded Programmes), similar to Vodafone’s ‘What We Did Last Summer’ and ‘Four Days in November’ will now switch to TV3, the “new home of rugby”!