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3D illustration of the Irish flag in front of a media item as the title image for our blog about the media landscape in ireland

Media Landscape in Ireland: A Complete Guide

Charles Ayling

Dec 5, 2023

The Irish Entertainment and media (E&M) industry is expected to increase at a 4.53% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) to €6.14 billion by 2026, up from €4.92 billion in 2021. This expansion is being driven mostly by increased internet availability and a huge rise in internet advertising.

People are spending more time than ever before consuming information, but in a more fragmented manner, thanks to the development of media gadgets. TV content can be seen live, recorded on PVR, accessed on-demand via OTT services, and accessed via mobile.

Television can be accessed via TV sets, laptops, tablets, and phones, whether at home or on the go. There is no need for a radio set to access radio services, and there is infinite access to music and podcasts on practically any topic.

The fast development of portable, Internet-enabled gadgets accessible at consumer-friendly price points is driving the boom in media consumption. This has increased the variety and viewing options available on connected devices, particularly laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

Read along as we discuss more about the media landscape in Ireland and cover the following topics:

Two people looking at a laptop to understand the media in Ireland

Media Legislation in Ireland

Ireland's press freedom climate is generally positive, allowing journalists to work freely.

Recent years have witnessed a shift towards greater pluralism, with notable changes in media ownership, including Denis O’Brien's sale of shares in Independent News & Media and Communicorp, fostering increased competition and diversity.

Political Context in Ireland

The Future of Media Commission, established by the Irish Assembly in 2020, released a report in 2022.

The government accepted most of the recommendations, leading to initiatives like the Media Fund and support for local democracy reporting. However, concerns persist regarding the funding of public service broadcaster RTÉ.

A long-overdue review of Ireland's Defamation Act 2009 was published in 2022.

The review aimed to provide clearer protection for public interest journalism and introduce anti-SLAPP mechanisms. While generally welcomed, there were some concerns, particularly regarding the abolition of juries in defamation cases.

Economic Context in Ireland

In 2022, Irish broadcasters and media outlets faced financial challenges.

Regional titles struggled, and decisive action on funding reforms for RTÉ and other news outlets remained pending from the government.

Sociocultural Context in Ireland

Journalists in Ireland enjoy relative freedom without significant cultural constraints.

The abolition of blasphemy by referendum in 2018, effective in 2020, was a positive development, decriminalising the publication of "blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter" and eliminating the offence of defamation of any religion.

Press Safety in Ireland

While Irish journalists occasionally reported safety threats from criminal groups, no significant cases were reported in 2022.

Concerns exist about attacks on journalists through social media. Interviewing police sources has become challenging since the Garda Siochana Act of 2005, prohibited officers from talking to journalists without prior authorization, risking dismissal, fines, or imprisonment.

Two people looking at a tablet to understand the Irish media landscape

What Are the Top Media Channels in Ireland?

RTÉ is the most popular digital (and offline) brand, with a digital audience of one in every four individuals (24%) consuming the public service broadcaster's content online. Except for the BBC and the Irish Mirror online, most outlets have dropped between 1-3 percentage points (pp) in the last year. Sky News is the only brand that has increased its digital audience (+1pp) in the last year.

In Irish life, RTÉ is unique – in any given week, 91% of Irish people watch or use RTÉ channels or services. This extensive reach across television, radio, online, mobile, social media, and live events provides RTÉ with a unique insight into Irish media viewers.

From early morning to evening commute, national and local radio continues to draw large audiences, while viewing live television dominates media consumption in the evening, beginning at six o'clock. 

In addition, every day, people in Ireland watch more than three hours of television and listen to more than three and a half hours of radio. Live television and radio continue to be vital mediums for advertisers as well as audiences.

In this section, we dive into more detail about the top channels that the Irish people use to consume media and the market share each channel holds. Read along!

Electronic Media in Ireland

Currently, Ireland is Europe's hub for computer manufacturing and usage – it manufactures one-third of all PCs sold in Europe, and several software businesses have operations there. For example, Baltimore Technologies, an Internet security organisation, and Iona Technologies, a software integration corporation, are both indigenous.

The Irish Emigrant is the world's longest-running Internet news service, founded in 1987 by Liam Ferrie as an electronic newsletter to keep his foreign colleagues at Digital Equipment Corporation up to date on Irish news. The Irish Emigrant is now read in over 130 countries. Since 1995, a hard copy edition has been printed on green paper in Boston and New York. Ferrie received the Irish Internet Association's first Net Visionary Award in 1999.

Moreover, almost every broadcaster and newspaper in Ireland has a website. The Irish Times established its online presence in 1994, and four years later it was turned into the portal site This website receives 1.7 million visits from 630,000 unique users each month, ranking second only to the website of the bargain airline Ryanair in Ireland. began charging for access to select portions of the site in 2002, following the trend among content-driven websites throughout the world. In 2002, Ireland had a 33% Internet penetration rate, with Dublin having a 53% penetration rate.

OTT Media in Ireland

The onset of over-the-top (OTT) distribution, which gave rise to direct-to-consumer (DTC) services, is the most significant recent change in the media value chain.

These services enable customers to access music, film, and television content over the Internet without the need for a typical cable or satellite subscription (Apple, Netflix, Spotify, Hayu). Greater broadband access opens up new avenues for content distribution and monetization. It implies more choice and access to any material, anytime, anywhere, on any device for content owners, and more choice and access to any content for consumers.

However, to compete successfully in the OTT market, investments in content, rights, better functionality, and technology are required. To stay up with market advancements, RTÉ and other broadcasters have invested in the creation of OTT services including RTÉ Player, RTÉ Radio Player, and RTÉ News Now.

TV operators have also entered the OTT industry by providing 'TV everywhere' access, which allows users to consume live and on-demand content both inside and outside the home (e.g., Sky Go, Virgin TV Anywhere), as well as by building their video-on-demand (VOD) solutions. With more options, some consumers are abandoning the traditional TV paradigm. They are foregoing comprehensive TV bundles in favour of a more limited selection of channels or alternative Subscription VOD (SVOD) offerings.

More people are purchasing 'skinny bundles' which are reduced-priced subscriptions to TV channels or content packages offered by cable, satellite, and OTT providers such as Netflix, BT Sport, and eir Sport. All of these new distribution mechanisms are putting long-standing business paradigms to the test.

You can see a blank sheet of paper leaning against a wall in a pink room

In Ireland, the percentage of respondents who pay for news subscriptions is down -1pp, tying it with Europe (15%). Looking back, Ireland's numbers have been slowly increasing since 2019, when those subscribing formed only 12% of the total.

The 25-34 age group has the highest percentage of paid customers in Ireland (21%). The younger generation (19%) comes next.

Better pricing (24%), more value - for example, being able to access more than one website with one purchase (17%), and making the content more engaging or relevant (15%) are the top factors that would attract consumers to subscribe.

Moreover, trust in news remains quite strong in Ireland, and the 5pp drop to 47% from 52% in 2023 appears to reflect a return to pre-COVID levels witnessed in 2017 and 2019. Many brand scores have fallen significantly, but RTÉ remains the most trusted brand, followed by regional or local radio and The Irish Times.

In the realm of print media, Ireland boasts prominent national dailies such as The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, and the Irish Examiner, the latter being based in Cork. The Sunday World stands out as a popular weekly publication, while the Business Post provides insightful content every week.

Tip: Learn more about the state of print monitoring, learn how to create media monitoring analysis reports, how to measure and analyse media coverage, take a look at the best media monitoring tools in Ireland, and check out the Meltwater media monitoring and analysis tool.

What are the top periodicals in terms of subscriptions/memberships in Ireland?

  1. The Irish Times (41%)
  2. The Irish Independent (32%)
  3. The Guardian (14%)
  4. The New York Times (14%)
  5. The Times/Sunday Times (10%)
  6. The Daily Telegraph (10%)
  7. The Economist (8%)

What Are the Largest British Newspapers with Irish Editions?

Additionally, several Irish editions of British papers are available, including:

  • The Times
  • The Sunday Times
  • The Irish Sun
  • The Irish Daily Star
  • The Irish Mirror
  • The Irish Daily Mail along with the Irish Mail on Sunday

Tip: Learn more about the best media monitoring tools in Ireland, about media monitoring in the United Kingdom, understand the UK media landscape, check out UK social media statistics, and take a look at the best press release distribution services in the UK.

Television in Ireland

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In the television domain, the public broadcaster RTE manages RTE 1, RTE 2, RTE News Now, and RTEjr.

TG4, another public channel, focuses on Irish-language programming. On the commercial front, Virgin Media One serves as a national television channel.

Radio in Ireland

Turning to radio, RTE operates Radio 1 as its flagship station, along with:

  • 2 FM for pop music
  • Raidio na Gaeltachta for Irish-language content
  • Lyric FM for classical and cultural programming
  • Various digital-only services

Nationally, commercial radio stations include Today FM and Newstalk.

Tip: Learn more about TV and Broadcast Monitoring with Meltwater.

Social Media in Ireland

The number of social media users in Ireland is expected to increase by 0.4 million (+9.11%) between 2024 and 2028.

Following the ninth consecutive year of growth, the social media user base is expected to reach 4.76 million people and hence a new peak in 2028.

Social Media Account% social networking owners in Ireland% of those who have an account with the listed platforms

The Irish Landscape: Snapshot

The Irish media landscape is facing uncertainties in 2023, primarily due to global job losses at major tech companies, many of which have European headquarters in Dublin. Several companies contribute significantly to the media sector, and the economic downturn has added pressure. The high costs of print production, coupled with the general cost-of-living crisis, challenge the sustainability of traditional media.

The Future of Media Commission Report, published in July 2022, brought both relief and concerns. The government decided to retain the current funding system for public service broadcaster RTÉ, subject to ongoing review but accepted all other 49 recommendations from the commission. Challenges persist, including rising living costs and fierce competition for ad spending from tech giants like Google and Facebook.

A noteworthy recommendation implemented in January 2023 was the reduction of VAT on newspapers (both print and online) from 9% to 0%. This aims to support traditional media's transition to digital formats, especially amidst increasing newsprint costs. The hope is that this financial advantage will enhance digital content and news gathering, and contribute to preserving or growing journalism jobs.

A man looking at a tablet to understand the media landscape in Ireland

Despite positive recommendations for journalism, the economic downturn resulted in job losses across the media sector. Redundancies occurred at Times Ireland, the Irish section of the Sunday Times, the Irish Mirror, and the Irish Daily Star, impacting digital editions and leading to job cuts. Mediahuis also announced extensive job cuts in March.

Also, several multinational tech firms announced significant job cuts. While 2,300 people have lost jobs in Ireland so far, the Irish Times suggests that if this is a readjustment post-COVID growth, the sector may eventually return to growth.

In March, a new Media Commission, Coimisiún na Meán, replaced the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. This body will regulate broadcasting and audiovisual online safety content under EU directives, and impose a levy on audiovisual media services to fund European media production. Community broadcasting will also receive funds to support journalistic practice.

Survey data indicates a slight decrease (1% point) in payment for online news media in Ireland, now at 15% of those surveyed. Notable titles include the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Guardian, and the New York Times. Podcast listenership is down 2% points, with 44% of respondents still engaged, including podcasts from foreign publishers, highlighting the openness of the Irish market.

Growth Drivers For Media In Ireland

In Ireland, the majority of respondents (46%) identified mainstream media as a source of knowledge on personal finances and the economy as a whole.

Primarily, three main factors accelerate the media landscape in Ireland, including:

Internet Access in Ireland

Ireland's Internet access market is positioned as the third-fastest-growing in Western Europe, expecting a robust 6.12% CAGR from 2021 to 2026. The total revenue for this sector is projected to escalate from €1.54 billion in 2021 to a substantial €2.08 billion by the end of 2026.

A noteworthy trend is the accelerated growth of mobile broadband, surpassing fixed broadband, with an impressive 9.16% CAGR, reaching an estimated €1.13 billion by 2026. By 2023, mobile is anticipated to constitute over half (50.18%) of the total Internet access revenue, with mobile Internet penetration predicted to increase to 54.17% by 2026.

Simultaneously, fixed broadband is expected to grow steadily at a 3.10% CAGR, reaching €951.84 million in 2026.

Digital Advertising in Ireland

Ireland's digital advertising landscape is dynamic, projecting a 5.12% CAGR in total Internet advertising revenue, reaching €845.66 million by 2026. Although slightly below the global average increase of 9.09%, Ireland's positive growth is notable, primarily driven by an increasing focus on mobile advertising.

The shift towards mobile dominance is evident, with total mobile Internet advertising revenue expected to rise to €491.39 million by 2026, exhibiting a noteworthy 7.85% CAGR over the forecast period.

A significant aspect is the ascendancy of video display advertising within the mobile sector, marking the fastest-growing segment with an anticipated 11.42% CAGR. Mobile has overtaken wired advertising, establishing itself as the predominant sector in 2021.

Reading Tips: What is (Online) Display Advertising?, Owned, Earned, Paid & Shared Media Explained, Measuring Ad Campaign Effectiveness, PR Campaign vs. Advertising Campaign Differences

OTT Video in Ireland

The Over the Top (OTT) video market in Ireland, encompassing content delivered directly via streaming video services, exhibits substantial growth at a rate of 9.08% CAGR. This trajectory is anticipated to generate revenue of €378.93 million by 2026.

The OTT video market experienced its most rapid expansion in 2020 and 2021, primarily attributed to increased demand during COVID-19 lockdowns when individuals sought entertainment options at home.

A notable facet is the particularly competitive growth observed in the sports OTT market in Ireland. The trajectory of this market underscores a broader shift towards digitization and sustained consumer interest in streaming services.

Reading Tips: The Secrets of Successful Video Marketing, How to Dominate Your Digital Video Strategy, Quick Tips for Social Video Content.

Wrapping Up: The Media Landscape in Ireland

One of the few constants in today's volatile media marketplace is the insatiable desire for high-quality content. Distinctive, high-quality material is more valuable than ever before, driving increasing the cost of rights.

One way to achieve this is through media monitoring and leveraging robust public relations services. Engaging in media monitoring entails remaining attentive to the discourse surrounding your organisation, competitors, sector, and any other significant subjects that may affect your company.

It is an essential practice for bolstering your public relations strategy, given that you must remain current on all developments in the field. Beyond how individuals perceive and judge your organisation, encompassing every aspect.

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The public relations services offered by Meltwater can assist you in staying abreast of the most recent developments in your industry through comprehensive media monitoring and vital insights into the behaviours of your customers.

Further, you can elevate the marketing efforts of your organisation by employing critical media tools such as the Meltwater Media Relations Suite, relationship management, press release distribution service, and media database.

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