Thursday 27 October 2016

Netflix not hurting RTE, but station still embarking on mobile-first 'short' shows

The State broadcaster plans to embark on more co-productions with media giants such as the BBC and Channel 4 to cut costs

Published 21/06/2015 | 02:30

Peter Coonan as Fran, Robert Sheehan as Darren, Tom Vaughan Lawlor as Nidge and Killian Scott as Tommy in a publicity shot from Love/Hate Series 3
Peter Coonan as Fran, Robert Sheehan as Darren, Tom Vaughan Lawlor as Nidge and Killian Scott as Tommy in a publicity shot from Love/Hate Series 3

RTE is not being hurt by the growth of streaming and on-demand TV services, according to RTE1's new head of channel Adrian Lynch.

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"We have found that time-shifted programming is not a huge disruptor of how people are consuming TV," Lynch told the Sunday Independent.

A study prepared by RTE Television Insights department, conducted by TAM Ireland/Nielsen, found that the average amount of live television watched per day by adults aged over 15 did not change between 2005 and 2014 - remaining at three hours and nine minutes daily, he said. Viewers in 2014 watched just 19 minutes extra of time-shift TV.

"People still want to gather around the TV together, and see it as a sociable activity. A curated schedule allows for community and talkability".

The channel is nevertheless adapting to changing consumer viewing habits, Lynch said, particularly the switch to mobile devices.

It is commissioning comedy 'shorts' designed specifically to be viewed on mobile devices. Shorts are easier to watch on small smartphone screens than longer shows. The station's website is also being redeveloped to make it more mobile-friendly.

RTE1 is the country's biggest channel, though its peak time market share is down 6pc between January 1 and June 10 2015 in comparison to the same period in 2014. TV3 saw the biggest declines during the period, of 40pc. Only 3e, Setanta and RTE+1 grew their share.

The station's budget is not being cut this year. However revenue is challenged by British "opt-out advertisers", who play foreign-made content to Irish audiences but attract Irish advertising spending. To cut costs it intends to embark on more co-productions with bigger companies such as the BBC rather than shouldering the cost of shows entirely on its own.

Love/Hate, the channel's top-rating crime drama, will soon be remade for Latin American and US audiences. RTE has just sold the remake rights to the drama in Brazil, Columbia and the US.

This follows a deal with Netflix that will see the show dubbed into French and German and available to Netflix subscribers in those and surrounding countries.

Lynch is driving a new emphasis on comedy and long-form current affairs programming at the channel. He took over from sports presenter Ryle Nugent at the end of last year. Nugent held the role in an acting capacity after the departure of George Dixon.

The channel has just agreed to produce a pilot comedy show, staring Pat Shortt, in partnership with the BBC. RTE will finance one-fifth of the production costs. A comedy show is also being put together to lead its Sunday night programming.

RTE2 is not the only place for comedy, Lynch added. RTE1 is the natural home for comedic shows aimed at older audiences, he said, because RTE2 has been refocused towards younger audiences. RTE1's average viewer is aged 53.

Lynch's first commissions included Lenihan: A Legacy, the political documentary which clocked up an average of 424,000 viewers last week and will be followed on Tuesday with a documentary about Ryanair founder Tony Ryan.

Lynch joined RTE from Animo, the independent production company he founded in 2003. He sold it to Parallel Films, the Irish company currently making The Siege of Jadotville, Jamie Dornan's first film after Fifty Shades of Grey.

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