Thursday 27 October 2016

UTV Ireland has to reach for 'Plan B' after growth stalls and losses mount

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

Broadcasters Alison Comyn and Pat Kenny celebrate the launch of UTV Ireland in August 2014
Broadcasters Alison Comyn and Pat Kenny celebrate the launch of UTV Ireland in August 2014

UTV Ireland is being forced to rethink its programming strategy as losses mount and audience growth stalls.

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The country's newest broadcaster made an unscheduled trading update, saying that it would now lose £11.5m (€16.2m).

In the statement, UTV said audience growth had "stalled in the last month".

And they are "assuming no significant improvement in overall audience levels for the second half of the year".

However, a spokesperson last night insisted that they are making changes in the hope of pulling in new viewers.

The board has approved a new "action plan" aimed at improving its fotunes.

UTV Ireland told the Irish Independent that they are now planning to introduce more homegrown productions in the coming months and are "absolutely" still pleased with results, despite the fact that the UTV shares fell by 2pc in London after the company made the announcement.

"We have a couple of different series in the pipeline and we have the Daniel and Majella O'Donnell series, which we launched last month. That will be airing in a few months time, it is being filmed throughout July," station spokesman Neal Cummins said.

He also said that the channel was extremely "pleased" with the figures for chat show 'Pat Kenny In the Round'. It attracted an average of 150,000 viewers for its first episode, an in-depth interview with GAA legend Mickey Harte. However, this dipped as low as 66,000 for the episode featuring astronaut Chris Hadfield.

The company admitted that viewership figures were still "volatile" 26 weeks after the channel debuted on January 1.

"Whilst weekday peak time has performed well, with viewership almost 40pc greater than both RTÉ Two and TV3, day-time and weekend viewing has been disappointing.

"Overall share of commercial impacts is therefore around 11pc which is lower than the target set for the channel's first year of operation," they added.

"UTV Ireland had an all-day share of 8.82pc of viewers on Monday and TV3 had 8.02pc," a spokesperson added.

However, on Monday of this week just 4,700 people tuned in to its flagship 5.30pm news bulletin which is hosted by Alison Comyn. It was recently moved from a 6.30pm slot.

At the same time TV3's 'The 5.30' hosted by Colette Fitzpatrick attracted an average viewership of 93,000.

Irish Independent

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