Sept 26 (Reuters) – Ireland’s win over South Africa on Saturday, which saw them take a major step towards reaching the knockout stages at the Rugby World Cup, attracted the biggest television audience of the year so far for RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster.
The 13-8 victory against the Springboks drew an average audience of 1.2 million, which peaked at 1.4 million as the game reached its closing stages, according to figures from RTE.
Those impressive viewing numbers do not include the many fans watching in pubs around the country.
In addition, there were 243,000 live streams on RTE Player, the broadcaster’s on-demand service.
To put the figures into perspective, the All-Ireland Gaelic Football final – typically the country’s biggest sporting event of the year – drew an average audience of 971,000.
The most-watched Six Nations game in Ireland this year was the team’s win in Scotland, which attracted an average audience of 816,000.
The number of viewers in Ireland tuning in to this edition of the World Cup are already well up on the 2019 tournament.
That year the biggest Irish audience tuned in for their side’s quarter-final loss to New Zealand, with 776,000 watching.
Ireland is a sports-mad country, where nine of the top 10 TV audiences last year were for sporting events. The All-Ireland football final beat all other sports, but rugby’s popularity saw the Six Nations grab four of the top 10 places.
The consistent number one in Ireland’s top TV audience list is The Late Late Toy Show, a special Christmas edition of a popular talk show.
Last year’s edition brought in over 1.5 million viewers, and it keeps the biggest sporting events off the top spot year after year. This could all change, however, depending on what happens in France at the World Cup in the coming weeks.
Ireland’s place in the quarter-finals is not quite secured but, if all goes to plan, there could be another meeting with New Zealand on the cards.
A game of that magnitude could see even more TV viewing records broken in a country which is daring to dream of World Cup glory, despite the heartaches of the past.
Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Ken Ferris
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