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TV and internet viewing of Papal Mass attracts global audience

By Ann Marie Foley - 30 August, 2018

An average of 535,000 viewers watched the full Papal Mass* on RTÉ One television in the Republic of Ireland, more than the average of 479,000 viewers who tuned in for the final of The Rose of Tralee earlier in the week and less than the recent All Ireland Hurling Final, which saw an average of 846,000 viewers watch the match.

However, the complete Papal Mass programme coverage anchored by Bryan Dobson reached an audience that beat the All-Ireland with 1.1 million viewers who tuned in at some point during the broadcast.

On RTÉ2, the Festival of Families concert event in Croke Park on Saturday evening saw 379,000 viewers on average watch the full 4-hour programme, with a peak of 570,000 viewers all watching at one stage. More than 1.8 million viewers tuned in to RTÉ’s special live television coverage** of Pope Francis in Ireland across the weekend.

RTÉ, as Ireland’s public service media, provided television pictures of the visit, including aerial footage of Ireland. These were accessed by over 76 broadcasters worldwide and transmitted globally. Viewers in 159 different countries including Iran, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland accessed the coverage on RTÉ Player, RTÉ News Now App and RTE.ie, with over 300,000 streams free to the public worldwide.

One Irish provider of global live streaming, Church Services TV (sister company to Catholicireland.net), had 4,681 views for the Papal Mass in 36 countries. These ranged from one view in Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Kuwait and Iran to two in Russia, India and Malaysia, 15 in Italy and 8 in Canada. There were 241 views in Ireland.

However, some of these ‘views’ included anywhere from one to hundreds of people, Tony Bolger, Church Services TV told Catholic Ireland.net. The live stream went direct to some parishes as one view, and there communities gathered together to see the Papal Mass on a big screen. For example, in Dublin it was broadcast in the church in Ringsend. At the Assumption Church in Walkinstown, there were 300 watching on a big screen.

“There is a difference in watching it on your own and watching it with a community,” Fr Paul St John, PP Walkinstown told Catholicireland.net. “It was a communal experience. We had tea and coffee and cake afterwards.”

Some people in the parish felt that it would not be easy for them to get to the Phoenix Park, so they were present along with some newcomers who had seen a poster outside the church announcing the screening of the Mass, with the cautionary note to “bring your own cushion”.

Fr St John was very happy with the screening in the parish and with Pope Francis’ visit overall and said: “Fair dues to him, he had to face a lot of negativism and he did very well.”

At Dolphin’s Barn parish, the 80 to 120 present in the church participated in the live streamed mass as if they were in the Phoenix Park.

“I knew it was different when it came to the gospel and they all stood up. So they weren’t just watching, they were participating,” said Fr Fergal McDonagh. Minsters of the Eucharist gave communion in the church and there was tea afterwards. Many elderly people in the parish would not have been able to walk the 6 km walk from transport to the Phoenix Park, so they really appreciated the modern technology that enabled live streaming in their church. They are still telling Fr McDonagh how much they appreciated it.

The TV viewing figures came from the independent monitor TAM Ireland/Nielsen TAM, under its Nat, Live + VOSDAL, Ind 4+ statistics.


*Full mass service from 15.08 to 16.47

** Pope Francis in Ireland programmes (25/08 & 26/08) and Festival of Families Concert programme – +1minute reach

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