As a country, Ireland is obsessed with sport. For an island of our size, our sporting abilities and achievements are incredible, finding success in a variety of sporting arenas that few others can rival. Considering this, it is unsurprising that the list of Ireland's most watched television events of 2018 was dominated by sport.
Television Audience Measurement Ireland (TAMI) have published a list of the 50 most viewed programmes of the last calendar year, all of which aired on Ireland's terrestrial television channels.
The most watched programme of the year was The Late Late Toy Show, but from here we start to see sport take a stranglehold. Ireland Grand Slam decider against England was in second place, closely followed by Ireland's first ever victory on home soil over the All Blacks.
England's World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia is next on the list, with the All-Ireland hurling and football finals sitting in sixth and seventh place respectively. Ireland's Six Nations win over Scotland sits in ninth, meaning there was a total of six sporting events in the top 10.
Overall, 26 of the top 50 most watched programmes of 2018 were live sport in one form or another.
40 of #Ireland’s 50 most watched TV progs in 2018 @rte: Six One & 9 @rtenews make top 10, @KatieGHannon’s #MauriceMcCabe story in top 20, #Pope’s visit & @RTE_PrimeTime also included. (via @TAM_Ireland) pic.twitter.com/Q379Jl36K5
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) January 10, 2019
What is interesting about the figures is the domination of rugby on the list. Every one of Ireland's Six Nations and November International fixtures feature in the top 30, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
It would seem that the only thing to top our love of sport is our ability to jump on a bandwagon!
Not a single game featuring the Irish football team features on the list, which can be put down to a number of mitigating factors. There were no qualifiers for major tournaments in 2018, with the UEFA Nations League bringing the team's only competitive fixtures. This meant all of the games were shown on Sky Sports, with no live coverage on terrestrial television.
This, coupled with the team's poor style of play, also led to many casual viewers losing interest in the side. You can expect them to future prominently in this year's list, with the Euro 2020 qualifiers and Mick McCarthy's arrival sure to give a bump in viewing figures.
The All-Ireland Hurling final having more viewers than the football equivalent is something we rarely see, but it is not all that surprising. Last year's hurling championship was one of the most thrilling in recent memory, with a final contested by two teams that we have seen in the showpiece all that often.
On the other hand, 2018 was largely a year to forget for Gaelic football. There was a lack of exciting games, and Dublin's fourth consecutive Sam Maguire win seemed inevitable from the start of the championship.