Wednesday 21 November 2018

RTE still holds the upper hand in TV news battle

Claire Byrne on the set of her new show.
Claire Byrne on the set of her new show.
Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ni Bheolain on the old RTE set.

Emma Jane Hade

We've never had so many anchormen and women on Irish TV - but it's old stalwarts Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ní Bheoláin who continue to rule the roost.

RTE's Six One news team are still pulling in the viewers with more than 500,000 tuning in each evening.

But others are making their mark too, most notably Claire Byrne, who has been on air for just three weeks with her Monday night current affairs programme.

The mother-of-two is faring well, as her last two shows, broadcast on January 26 and February 2, have gathered an average of 252,000 viewers and 222,000 each respectively.

'Claire Byrne Live' is broadcast on RTE One at 10.35pm on Monday evenings for one hour, overlapping with her closest competitor, TV3's Vincent Browne, for an average of 30 minutes.

However, it seems that viewers are keen to stay with 39-year-old Byrne as an average of just 70,900 tuned into 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' on January 26.

Byrne's form continued the following week, as an average of 222,000 viewers tuned in on February 2, while 85,200 watched veteran broadcaster Browne.

Two special broadcasts of Vincent Browne's 'The People's Debate' aired on Wednesday January 28 and February 4, attracting an average of 114,000 and 119,200 respectively.

Miriam O'Callaghan's 'Prime Time' continues to do well with viewers, easily fending off the competition from the new kids on the block, UTV's 'Ireland Live at 10'.

Prime Time, which is broadcast twice weekly, reached an average of 349,000 viewers on January 27, while 'Ireland Live at 10' attracted 52,700 viewers.

The daily show, which is hosted by Alison Comyn and Chris Donoghue, attracted an average of 56,500 viewers on January 26, but two days later this dropped to 31,000.

However, it's the early evening news market which has become most competitive.

Last Wednesday, RTE's 'Six One' had an average of 527,000 viewers while TV3's 'The 5.30' bulletin pulled in 153,400 viewers, and Alison Comyn's 6.30pm 'Ireland Live' bulletin on UTV attracted an average of just 41,100.

A spokesperson for RTE said that the 'Six One' had an average of 501,000 viewers for the each broadcast between January 26 and February 4.


Despite the fact their ratings are yet to stabilise, UTV Ireland bosses told the Irish Independent they are very pleased with their position in the race for viewing figures as they are "on air for just over a month".

"Throughout January, UTV Ireland was the second most watched channel in Ireland on 15 nights and the third most watched channel overall," head of channel Mary Curtis said.

"It is early days yet and we know we have a channel to build."

A spokesperson for TV3 said that they are also pleased with their performances, as their flagship news and current affairs programme enjoyed gains of almost 5pc each in January.

Irish Independent

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