Belfast Telegraph

UTV debate 'most watched', but more viewed Assembly tussles

By Noel McAdam

UTV’S election debate on Monday night grabbed an average viewing figure of 88,000, it was revealed yesterday.

The broadcaster announced the programme — the first of two election specials — was the “most watched” in its 9pm time slot in Northern Ireland.

The hour-long General Election debate had a 16% average audience share — peaking at one point at a 20% share with 112,000 viewers. Terry Brennan, Head of News and Programmes at UTV, said it was: “Another strong performance from the UTV election team. Marc Mallet put the politicians through their paces in a lively studio debate which covered the issues that matter to our viewers, making the UTV Election Debate the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at that time last night.”

But the overall figure was significantly down on the equivalent statistics for debates during the Assembly election battle in March.

Then, the pre-recorded UTV programme, hosted by Marc Mallet, had a 23% share, while around 172,000 viewers tuned in for the final leaders’ debate on the BBC — which was up more than 70% on the previous year.

It was seen at the time as an indication that the public was more engaged in the Assembly election than in others in recent years, and an early sign of a higher turnout as proved to be the case.

The trend then was also confirmed by BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan’s two election specials.

The two Nolan Live TV election debates had average audiences of 139,000 and audience shares of 44% and 43% .

Also, the main televised BBC politics programme — The View — had an average audience of 98,000, a 31% share.

It is understood that those figures are significantly up on the corresponding programmes before last year’s Assembly election.

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