Advertising and sponsorship deals linked to its broadcast of this year's Rugby World Cup will generate €5m in extra revenue for TV3. Top executives at the company expect the tournament to bring so many viewers that TV3 will beat RTE to the top spot in the ratings wars for the two months it airs.
The Rugby World Cup takes place in England between September 18 and October 31. TV3 outbid RTE to win the exclusive Irish rights to broadcast all 48 games in the tournament.
The station's channels are free to air so the matches will be accessible to all Irish TV viewers, not just subscription holders.
The Ballymount operation, which has just been bought by US billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global, has decided to air all of the tournament's matches, rather than sublicense some games to other stations.
RTE is thought to have been interested in sublicensing matches.
TV3 opened sales for the Rugby World Cup in March, a week after Ireland won the Six Nations. About 95pc of the station's top-tier ad packages have now sold out.
Land Rover has signed up as title sponsor, paying €450,000. Beer, finance and motor brands have also inked deals. The company has also agreed big-screen rights for the first time. This means that some brands will pay TV3 to air the matches at paid-for events.
TV3 won the rights to the tournament partly thanks to the extra cash freed up by its loss of the rights to air GAA matches earlier this year. At the time the loss of the GAA rights, which are now split between Sky and RTE, was seen as a huge blow to the Ballymount station. But a source said the extra revenue from the Rugby World Cup would more than offset losses associated with the GAA rights.
The station has signed up Ireland rugby stars Malcolm O'Kelly, Matt Williams and Peter Stringer as part of a panel of rugby experts who will analyse all 48 games live.
Rugby is not the only sport in TV3's arsenal this year as the station fights to wrestle viewers from RTE.
As well as the Rugby World Cup, it has lined up three of Manchester United's matches as the team returns to the Champions League after a one-year hiatus. Ex-RTE pundit Graeme Souness has also joined its panel.
Liberty Global is paying private equity firm Doughty Hanson up to €87m for the Dublin-based media company. The deal brings Ireland's second most popular TV channel and the country's biggest cable subscriber under one roof.
TV3 has an audience share of 12pc, second only to RTE's flagship channel RTÉ1. UPC, meanwhile, had 387,000 TV customers and 366,000 broadband customers at the end of March.
Sunday Indo Business