Here are the most-watched TV programmes on RTÉ in 2021 1 year ago

Here are the most-watched TV programmes on RTÉ in 2021

Were you watching? Probably...

Raidió Teilifís Éireann's annual report is out, and with that comes a "modest surplus" and a great deal of number-crunching.


We'll get to some of the big financial figures momentarily, but first let's honour the above headline and take a look at the most-watched TV programmes to air in Ireland throughout the year of 2021.

Perhaps no big surprise, The Late Late Toy Show continued to pack 'em in front of the TV set / laptop / smartphone / smart fridge / modified Nintendo DS / etc. In total, 1,708,000 people tuned in to Ryan Tubridy's amped-up kid-friendly spectacular. The Toy Show appeal also raised €6.6 million for children's charities.

In contrast, The GAA All-Ireland Football Final between Tyrone and Mayo was the second most-watched programme in Ireland, with 944,600 viewers accounted for.

The most-watched news programme of 2021, meanwhile, was the RTÉ Six One News broadcast on Tuesday, 5 January. On that day, the top stories included the Government potentially closing schools amidst a significant Covid-19 spike, the resultant pressure on hospitals, and the blocking of a Donegal fishing vessel by a Scottish patrol boat. 798,000 people watched that one.


On the beloved, never-problematic RTÉ Player, crime saga Kin was a big hit, commanding 2.47 million streams, with the very first episode of the series standing as the single most-streamed piece of content on the player at 515,600 plays. UEFA Euro 2020 – which took place in 2021, remember – recorded 2.5 million streams.

In total, the player – which RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes once said represents "fair value" when compared to the likes of Netflix – recorded 67 million streams in 2021.

As for some of the aforementioned notable financial numbers – RTÉ announced a "modest" net surplus of €2.4 million for 2021. Total revenue (TV Licence/Commercial) increased by €13.3m between 2020 and 2021 (€331.1 versus €344.4).

TV licence sales were lower in 2021, and RTÉ’s licence fee revenue in 2021 was €0.5 million lower than 2020 (€196.61m versus €196.1). Commercial revenue increased by €13.8m to €148.3m from €134.5m.


Operating costs (excluding Special Events) increased by €10.3m compared to 2020 (€305.2 versus €315.5m) as content production resumed following severe pandemic-related disruption in 2020. The cost of special events in 2021, including EURO 2020, Olympics and World Cup qualifiers has been listed at €15.8m.

On the ever-thorny subject of the TV licence fee –which the Government will not be eliminating any time soon  – RTÉ's Chief Financial Officer Richard Collins noted his "concern" regarding an increase in the number of Irish homes that do not have a traditional television set.

"This has been growing steadily over recent years, as per the Nielsen Establishment Survey, and is now 15.1% (January 2022), an increase of 2.2% in the past year," said Collins.

"As media consumption patterns become more complex, the television licence fee mechanism reflects less and less how people consume public-service content. It is for this reason that the mechanism is being changed in other countries to a media charge or other methods, rather than being device dependent."


All-Ireland Final image via Brendan Moran / Sportsfile / Kin image via RTÉ