Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah was most-watched TV show in Ireland this year

Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah was most-watched TV show in Ireland this year

Oprah Winfrey's interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, broadcast on RTÉ2 in Ireland on March 8, attracted more viewers than heavy hitters such as Ireland's international rugby matches, and the Euro 2020 soccer tournament. Picture: Harpo Productions

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey was the most-watched TV show in Ireland so far this year.

New research has found that 799,671 people tuned into the interview that was broadcast here on March 8.

In the interview, which was shown on RTÉ 2, the former royals sat down with chat show host Oprah and discussed issues such as their relationship, Meghan’s struggle with her mental health, and Harry’s relationships with his father and brother.

The interview also saw the British royal family accused of racism when Meghan claimed that when pregnant with her son, an unnamed member of the royal family raised “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.

Four big sporting events in the top 10

The report, from marketing communications company Core, also found that rugby was in high demand for TV viewers in the first half of the year. Ireland's Six Nations saw four matches feature in the top 10 most-watched programmes.

The on-field action averaged nearly 700,000 viewers, with the games against France, England, and Wales being third, fourth and fifth most-viewed programmes in the first six months of the year.

The Six One News on January 5 was the second most-watched show so far this year, with 762,012 viewers.

Overall, TV viewership is down, having fallen 7% year on year.

Streaming continues to grow

Streaming is still coming out on top for viewers, with levels remaining higher than pre-Covid averages. 

The RTÉ Player has seen a rise in streams (up 47%) compared to the first half of 2019. However, the figure is down 11% on last year, when Covid restrictions were at their peak.

Euro 2020 was a big hit for the RTÉ Player in June, securing more than 1.6m streams.

Love Island proved to be a huge hit for the Virgin Media Player, being the station's most popular programme in June.

Volumes of streams for the player jumped towards the end of June from around 500 to more than 2,000, coinciding with the return of the dating show

Covid dominates online conversations

Online chatter revolved largely around one issue — Covid-19. Mentions of ‘third wave’ was the hottest topic, with the phrase receiving around 469,000 mentions in January.

However, volumes of mentions on issues related to the pandemic began to decrease as the year went on.

Euro 2020 was also a top trend for discussion on social media, specifically Christian Eriksen following his collapse in Denmark’s opening game on June 12.

Following his cardiac arrest, searches on social media for Eriksen drove the highest volume in one single day in Ireland in the first half of the year, with around 500,000 searches.

Return to retail was a hit on Google 

Meanwhile, searches for appointments at Penneys were among the most popular on Google in May as restrictions were lifted and non-essential retail stores started to reopen. 

Colm Sherwin, managing director investment of Core Investment, said the report "has revealed some great insights into how the Irish public has consumed media over such a changing period in Irish history".  

He said: "Though the advent of streaming was obviously picked up during restrictions, it has clearly stayed with Irish viewers compared to figures in 2019."

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