TV3 banks on Rugby World Cup to drive up profits - despite losing soaps
TV3 bosses expect revenue and profitability to grow at the broadcasting group this year, despite losing big ratings pullers Coronation Street and Emmerdale to UTV Ireland.
The group - which includes TV3, the recently launched TV3+1 and 3e - has seen its market share dip 2pc to 10.6pc in the first three months of its rival's existence, Nielsen figures show.
UTV pulled in almost 6pc of the audience, with RTE's share also falling by around 2pc.
But the group is hopeful that its exclusive rights to the Rugby World Cup and the X Factor in Ireland will attract more eyeballs later in the year.
The rugby deal will be a loss leader, but the station hopes it will be able to keep some of the new viewers the tournament attracts. Their team of presenters includes Neil Back, Keith Wood and Shane Jennings.
Losing the soaps will save the company around €15m a year in contract fees, an industry source told the Sunday Independent.
Management are ploughing some of that money into content the station owns, which gives it more flexibility to generate revenue from new sources like product placement deals.
Costcutter and Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Irish Daily Mail, have signed such deals.
"On pure TV3 and spot revenue we absolutely expect to be down in 2015, but we expect that to be more than made up for with 3e revenue, 3 player revenue, the revenue that we get from the +1 channels, plus rugby," TV3 commercial director Pat Kiely told the Sunday Independent.
Having more Irish content will give the group more scope for selling its programming internationally. It recently signed a deal for international distribution with Sky.
It has also set up a dedicated unit to explore making more advertiser-funded programming (AFP).
"The Restaurant would be a good example - Aldi was a big funding partner on that show," Mr Kiely said.
"We've a lot of big shows out there that we're in discussions with potential AFP partners on".
Speculation has surrounded the group's future in recent weeks with owner Doughty Hanson rumoured to be considering a sale.
US media giant Viacom, whose brands include MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, was interested in the business at one point, but is no longer in the running, the Sunday Independent understands.
Mr Kiely would not comment on whether a takeover was in the offing, but said TV3 is "a very interesting proposition for a lot of investors".
Sunday Indo Business