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Tyrone-Mayo the most watched sporting event of 2021, followed by England's Euro final defeat

Sport made for nine of the 12 most viewed programmes on Irish television last year, and almost half of the top 50 overall.

Lee Keegan with Peter and A
Lee Keegan with Peter and A
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

NINE OF THE 12 most viewed television programmes in Ireland last year were sports events, with RTÉ’s Late Late Toy Show once more reigning supreme atop the annual TV table.

The Toy Show drew 1.7 million viewers to RTÉ One, while Tyrone’s defeat of Mayo in the All-Ireland senior men’s football final was the second most watched television event of the year with just under 945,000 TV sets dialed into Croke Park.

There was a strong British influence to the rest of the top five: England’s Euro 2020 defeat to Italy (941,300) sat third, their semi-final victory over Denmark was fourth (888,800), and Oprah Winfrey’s interview of Britain’s prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle (836,500) was next in line.

Ireland’s men’s Six Nations defeat to France was the fourth most watched sporting programme on Irish screens last year, sixth overall, with just under 800,000 people watching Les Bleus edge out Andy Farrell’s men on Virgin Media One.

A final-day Six Nations victory over England (782,600), Limerick’s All-Ireland hurling final destruction of Cork (774,200), and Mayo’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over seven-in-a-row-chasing Dublin (731,400) round off the top 10.

Six RTÉ News programmes from the first eight days of 2021 make the top 50, with 5 January’s Six One News — wherein it was announced that schools would remain closed as a public-health measure — the seventh most viewed broadcast of the year overall.

Sport makes up for virtually half of a top 50 almost completely dominated by live programming, and that’s without a single Tokyo Olympics entry on account of time difference.

You can view the figures, compiled by Nielsen Research, below:


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