Sky figures slide as less than 1% watch Ulster semi

Attendance in Clones at Monaghan against Armagh exceeds broadcaster’s viewers

Sky Sports have experienced another notable decline in their live championship viewing figures, with Saturday evening's Ulster football semi-final between Armagh and Monaghan attracting less than 1 per cent of the available audience.

The average audience was just 10,200, according to figures supplied to The Irish Times, which represents just 0.91 per cent of the available audience at the time. This is the lowest of the four live games shown on Sky Sports so far this summer, down from the early peak of 32,000 for the first Sky broadcast at the start of June, the Kilkenny-Offaly Leinster hurling quarter-final.

That was followed by the 18,000 average which tuned in for the Wexford-Dublin Leinster hurling semi-final on June 14th, that same figure also given for their live broadcast of the Connacht football semi-final between Sligo and Galway last Saturday week.

High definition excluded The figures for Saturday evening’s live Armagh-Monaghan broadcast


– which went out on Sky Sports from 6.30-9.0pm – are for Irish residential subscribers only (not including those watching in HD), and do not include those who watched the match in pubs or in Britain. The 18,886 attendance in Clones on Saturday comfortably surpassed the viewing figures on Sky. The match ended in a draw, 0-14 apiece, although Sunday’s replay in Clones will not be televised.

RTÉ’s viewing figures for their two live broadcasts from Croke Park on Sunday afternoon – the two Leinster football semi-finals – attracted average audience figures of between 247,000-396,000. The first semi-final, in which Meath repelled Kildare’s late rally, attracted an average audience of 247,000, representing 37 per cent of the available audience

The second semi-final between All-Ireland champions Dublin and Wexford attracted an average audience of 396,000, or 40 per cent of the available audience, for the first half. This fell to 257,000, or a 28 per cent share of the available audience, for the second half. Figures for that game were split in two because there was a break for Nuacht, and so, according to RTÉ, "the two halves are technically separate programmes". However, Dublin's near complete dominance of the second half surely helps explain the drop in the second-half figures.

Sky’s right to broadcast the Armagh-Monaghan game effectively ruled out any live transmission of the Leinster hurling semi-final replay between Kilkenny and Galway. The drawn game, shown by RTÉ the previous Sunday, attracted an average viewership of 329,000.

Next up for Sky is Saturday evening’s All-Ireland hurling qualifier between Tipperary and Galway, which has a 7pm start at Semple Stadium. However, that game is not looking quite as attractive as it did a week ago, especially when there was the prospect of Kilkenny renewing their rivalry with Tipperary. By beating Galway in the replay, Kilkenny now take on Dublin in Sunday’s Leinster final. Galway, however, haven’t faced Tipperary in the championship since 2010, and that year’s quarter-final, which Tipp won narrowly on the way to winning that year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup.

RTÉ also have the rights for the Clare-Wexford hurling qualifier, which will be shown live from Cusack Park in Ennis, on Saturday at 3.30pm.

Tyrone at home None of this weekend’s round 2A All-Ireland football qualifiers will be televised, the venues for which were confirmed last night. Round 2B is scheduled to take place on Saturday week, although an alternative date may have to be found for the two games scheduled

in the North on Saturday July 12th.

One of those will be Tyrone against the losers of the Armagh-Monaghan replay. Tyrone will have home advantage if Armagh come through the replay, but should Monaghan lose, they will have home advantage against Tyrone, as they beat them already in this year’s championship. Down are also scheduled to host Kildare on Saturday week.

The north’s July 12th date is compelling the GAA to look at other options – including the July 14th bank holiday in the North. However, it appears likely that both games will be played on the Sunday, July 13th.

“It [July 12th] is an issue that we are aware of and it will have an impact on our scheduling,” said the GAA’s director of games administration Fergal McGill.

“No fixtures have been made for [round 2B games] yet but we will work with the Ulster Council and liaise with them on that.”

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics