Television sets are still our viewing device of choice

Far from disappearing from households, TVs are, if anything, getting bigger

This week Irish television will almost certainly – unless something goes very wrong – enjoy what is reliably its biggest night of the year courtesy of a stellar cast of children, Ryan Tubridy and everybody involved in the production of The Late Late Toy Show. The RTÉ One ratings juggernaut is in a league of its own, with last year's programme garnering an average of 1.7 million viewers, according to consolidated Nielsen figures compiled for industry body TAM Ireland. This figure notably excludes online streams.

As exceptional as this performance is, TAM Ireland is also keen to stress the all-round healthy picture for television in the Irish market compared to the US, where the “cord-cutting” phenomenon of people ditching traditional TV platforms and even traditional TV sets has been widely documented over the past decade.

The number of Irish homes with a television set has stayed “relatively” stable during the past five years at around 92 per cent, TAM notes in a new research paper examining the trend data from the regular establishment surveys of 9,480 households conducted on its behalf by research firm B&A. This is perhaps not surprising given the substantial strides in television technology of late: the rollout of 4K picture quality and the normalisation of bigger screens are just two of prompters for living-room upgrades in recent years.

‘No-TV’ homes

The two groups that are more likely to be “no-TV” homes are households where the adults have been born outside Ireland – and perhaps have “less motivation to watch Irish television”, TAM suggests – and households headed by younger people without children. Of this second group, TAM surmises that they may go on to acquire TV sets as they get older, rather than sticking purely and forever with apps on non-TV devices.


Meanwhile, the penetration of cable and satellite pay-TV penetration has also been "relatively static" over the past five years at just over 60 per cent, with streamers Netflix, Prime Video, Now and Disney Plus much more commonly used as add-ons to existing services than replacements.

In-home television sets still account for 84 per cent of adults’ viewing minutes, TAM says. Granted, this share slips to 63 per cent for the 15-34 year-old demographic. But what was once regarded as the “small screen”, and now looms large compared to many of the screens in our lives, is still – like the Toy Show – incredibly popular decades on.