Irish commercial broadcaster TV3 is planning to make significant investments in original programming and digital initiatives over the coming year on the back of a strong rebound in the Irish advertising market and its acquisition of rights to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
TV3 last week said the first three months of 2014 has been the best for TV3 Group since 2008, with revenues up 5%, including a 60% year-on-year increase in digital revenues. This follows the successful long term re-financing of TV3’s debt in 2013.
Forthcoming plans include the launch of the channel’s first original drama – Red Rock, a fictional harbour town-set soap opera from the UK’s Element Pictures.
The broadcaster has already commissioned shows including quiz show The Lie – a co-production with Scotland’s STV – and Keith Barry Brain Hacker featuring magician Keith Barry.
According to chief executive David McRedmond, TV3 has set a goal of Irish-originated content exceeding 50% of its output next year, up from 40% currently.
“If you control your own content you have a valuable proposition,” he said. “You can play it over different [digital] platforms and sell it internationally, which is important in a relatively small market like Ireland.”
McRedmond said both The Lie and Brain Hacker had done well internationally, with the latter sold to 76 countries worldwide. Other future projects include Sitting on a Fortune, a game show produced by Zodiak.
McRedmond said TV3 is particularly keen on co-productions, which enabled it to invest in bigger budget productions.
“The great advantage for producers is they see Ireland as a great test market that is very competitive,” he said.
A key advantage of commissioning more content to which it owns the rights is that TV3 can invest in digital properties such as playalong apps and other interactive content. McRedmond said that digital revenues grew 60% year-on-year in the first quarter, meaning that it accounted for a significant portion of the company’s growth even if the absolute revenue from digital was still only between 3-5%. The company has teamed up with media sales group Group M and advertising technology platform provider Videology to monetise its digital platforms.
McRedmond said that over 10% of digital users – about 50,000 people – had registered with TV3, which enables them to get access to advanced player features including pause, rewind and the ability to create playlists.
“We have just started doing log in. We are not yet at a level where we have a hugely valuable database, but we can push that very hard and will do that from September. Personalisation is where the value is,” he said.
TV3 has also developed a second-screen app, Showpal, and is striking deals with advertisers and sponsors to get bespoke content for the platform, said McRedmond. Showpal content includes a playalong version of quiz show The Algorithm.