Dermot Bannon, the Late Late Toy Show and the Eurovision Song Contest all had Irish viewers glued to their TV screens last year.

But it was sporting exploits at home and abroad that had most people settling down in front of the television in 2018.

Figures from industry monitoring body, TAM Ireland, show that sporting fixtures – including Ireland’s rugby wins over England and New Zealand, England’s World Cup defeat to Croatia and the All Ireland hurling and football finals – dominated viewing habits, accounting for half the top 20 most-watched programmes.

But, once again, it is Ryan Tubridy and the Late Late Toy Show that topped the pile, with an audience of 1.5 million people tuning in.

It was the only broadcast to breach the one million mark, with the second most-watched broadcast – Ireland’s win over England in the Six Nations on St Patrick’s Day – attracting 975,600.

RTÉ dominated proceedings once again, accounting for 40 of the top 50 programmes.

However, there is a slight shift in habits with Virgin Media programmes taking four spots in the top 20.

Last year, all 20 of the highest rated TV shows were RTÉ broadcasts but Virgin Media’s decision to snap up the Six Nations proved a winner.

Three of Ireland’s games were among the top 20 most watched programmes.

The All-Ireland hurling and football finals both made the top 10 but more people tuned in to watch England’s World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia than watched either match.

11 World Cup ties in total made the top 50, while Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final also proved highly popular, with four games featuring in the final list.

Sport and entertainment shows keep Irish viewers glued to their TVs

Elsewhere, a whopping 860,000 people tuned in to watch the season opener of ‘Room to Improve’ last January – this episode saw Daniel and Majella O’Donnell’s Donegal home get the Dermot Bannon treatment.

RTÉ drew huge numbers for its news broadcasts during the Storm Emma blizzards in March. And more than 700,000 people tuned into the Eurovision Song Contest, which saw Ireland compete in the final for the first time in five years.

‘Whistleblower: the Maurice McCabe Story’ was the highest-rated documentary on Irish channels last year, while the Late Late Show’s broadcast from London, ‘Striking Out’ and ‘Taken Down’ all featured strongly, too.

486,000 people tuned in to watch the broadcast of Pope Francis in Phoenix Park; 5,000 more than the number that watched the Rose of Tralee just five days earlier.

Christmas broadcasting was dominated by one-off special episodes of ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and ‘The Young Offenders’.

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