Every Rose Has Its Thorn
The results are in and viewership has been counted. Whether you admit to watching or not, you’ll certainly have heard or seen something about this contest in the last couple of weeks.
The winner of this year’s Rose of Tralee was from a county that's never won before; Jennifer Byrne from Offaly was crowned the 2017 Rose. Over 562,000 people tuned in to watch the live results on Tuesday 22nd August* up from just under 415,000 the previous night. Looking into my crystal ball I predict that will keep this programme in the Top 20 programmes for 2017 - not a risky foretelling given that it's been in the Top 20 for the last number years (if you exclude all iterations of large sporting events, such as Euros 2016).
However, it's no longer just about the live programme and it's no longer just about the gúnas, the jigs or the reels. It’s not even about Daithí/Ray/Gay anymore. With the advent of social media there have been instant reactions to everything from a proposal that nearly went wrong for 2013’s New Orleans Rose (they did get married, almost 500,000 YouTube views and one year later); to the 2014 Rose, Maria Walsh, ‘coming out’; to gatecrashers (Fathers4Justice) in 2016; to political commentary compliments of 2016's Sydney Rose on the Eighth Amendment.
This year was no different. Who didn't cringe when the Western Canada Rose professed that she had 23 cousins in the UK - three in England and the other 20 here in Ireland? And if you weren't watching live I'll wager you saw the aftermath on Twitter. Of course #RoseOfTralee was a trending topic with the peak being seen on the second night and over 46,000 tweets in the four weeks of August**.
In fairness, The Rose of Tralee is only part of a trend of people communicating while watching big events. It gives a feeling of belonging to a community, if only for the length of the programme or series. You can hear and be heard. And that’s a good thing… except maybe for the geographically challenged among us.
*consolidated viewing figures pending
**Sprout Social Twitter Listening Report
Programme viewership based on Nielsen figures