Throughout the highs and lows of 2021, there was one for everyone in the audience as Irish viewers watched over 3.7 billion hours of TV and continued to choose Irish content above all else available.
RTÉ was home to 44 of the 50 most watched TV programmes in 2021, as audiences turned to RTÉ in their droves for its unique offering of live sport, entertainment, trusted news, local Irish drama as well as, gripping factual programmes and documentaries.
The average Irish adult in a TV home, watched TV for 2 hours 47 mins every day, almost 20 hours a week in 2021.
As audience viewing and listening evolves, RTÉ continues to offer a range of platforms for Irish people to watch and listen to content, when and how they want. Tam Ireland research confirms that Irish audiences spend twice as much time on broadcaster content than any other form of content, including content from international streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
RTÉ Player continues to grow its on-demand content offering of boxsets and curated catalogue and saw a substantial 48% increase in time spent streaming in 2021 compared to the previous year. Over 67 million streams were accessed subscription free on RTÉ Player last year.
As live TV remains king, The Late Late Toy Show retained the crown at the top of the Irish TV viewing chart with over 1.7 million viewers and an impressive €6.6million raised for good causes on the night of The Lion King themed show.
2021 was a bumper year for Ireland as a nation of sports fans, with seven of the top ten most watched programmes all free-to-air sport. The All-Ireland Football Final Tyrone V Mayo on RTÉ2 was the second most watched programme overall, while nearly a million streams of The Saturday Game / The Sunday Game Live were watched on the RTÉ Player during the year.
RTÉ Sport’s coverage of UEFA Euro 2020 also scored big with Irish fans as 2.5 million streams from the action-packed tournament were streamed on the RTÉ Player, and the final of Italy v England attracting 941,000 viewers on RTÉ2, making it the third most watched TV programme of the year.
Irish drama proved a huge draw for audience in 2021 as viewers turned to RTÉ’s unique offering of the best of local TV writing, acting, and producing. Hit crime drama Kin proved the top favourite among viewers of all TV dramas in 2021, with 687,000 viewers watching on RTÉ One, and a phenomenal 2.5 million streams on RTÉ Player. The gripping opening episode was also the most watched programme on the RTÉ Player across 2021 with over 515,000 streams alone.
RTÉ One on Sunday nights became the must-watch home of new Irish drama in 2021 with Hidden Assets (537,000 viewers) and Smother (481,000) also both featuring among the Top 50 most watched programmes. While audiences continued their love for RTÉ local drama from Carrigstown with Fair City, as it was streamed over 3.3 million times on the RTÉ Player last year.
2021 saw Irish audiences come together for pivotal TV moments across RTÉ, generating a real sense of community and collective watching with programmes such as The Late Late Show (695,000), the new series of Reeling in the Years (654,000), Ireland’s Fittest Family (604,000), The Tommy Tiernan Show (546,000) and Operation Transformation (496,000).
The public continued to choose RTÉ for trusted News & Current Affairs in 2021 with the most watched news programme of the year on any channel being the RTÉ Six One News on 5th January with 798,000 viewers watching, as the government considered closing schools for the month of January due to Covid-19, while 7th January saw 689,000 viewers watch the biggest rated RTÉ Nine O’Clock News as the government reversed the decision for Leaving Cert students return to school and US President Biden addressed the storming of Capitol Hill. The two evening bulletins collectively also generated over four million streams on the RTÉ Player throughout the year as people sought to be informed when and where suited them best.
Our interest as a nation, in current affairs and factual content was clearly evident with RTÉ programmes The Case I Can’t Forget (No. 28), Let the Rest of World Go Bye telling the story of two elderly male best friends marrying (No.30), RTÉ Investigates: Stuck in the Rough revealing the plight of rough homeless sleepers (No.31), Dr Cassidy’s Casebook from the former state pathologist (No.36), Prime Time (No. 42) and Marian recounting the life of broadcaster Marian Finucane (No. 48) all featuring among the Top 50 programmes.
RTÉ licensing of international content which was made available free-to-air also appealed hugely to the public. The broadcast of Oprah with Meghan and Harry was watched by 837,000 on RTÉ2, making it the sixth most watched programme of the year, and generated over 269,000 streams on the RTÉ Player. While drama series’ including Home and Away (4.9m), Eastenders (3.5m), and box sets of Line of Duty (2.5m), and The Good Wife (1.1m) all generated millions of streams on the RTÉ Player.
RTÉ also offered audiences of all ages the chance to enjoy nostalgic programmes or discover classics for the first time as The Man Who Came Around: Johnny Cash in Ireland documentary on RTÉ One (No. 49), They Way We Were (No.50) and enjoying entertaining boxset bingeing with Love/Hate (1.7m) and Frasier (1m) both streaming over a million times on the RTÉ Player.
In 2021, Irish audiences spent twice as much time consuming broadcaster content than any other form of content including content from international streaming services.