Broadcaster can use experience from World Cup to deliver strong package
Having delivered a substantial blow to RTÉ, TV3's next mission must be to win over the rugby audience held captive by the World Cup.
The broadcaster, all in all, did a fine job in delivering such a big event but knows it has room for improvement. With three years to go before it gets hold of the Six Nations rights, it has plenty of time to develop its own style and be ready to take over from the state broadcaster.
There is much to build on, and a three-year contract allows the newcomer to be bolder in what it has to say. The biggest gripe from viewers throughout the tournament was the amount of time given over to advertisements. Keeping the money coming in, while keeping the viewer onside, is a real challenge for any commercial broadcaster and beating RTÉ won't have come cheap - meaning ad revenue is key to making this work.
During the World Cup, TV3 had a captive audience, with ITV's coverage inaccessible in Ireland. But with the British rights being shared between ITV and BBC, there may be more overlap, which could offer viewers choice.
The challenge for TV3 is to make the Irish proposition compelling and to ensure its coverage is not considered overly safe. Another criticism of its analysis was that the pundits were often all in agreement with each other, which doesn't necessarily make for strong television.
Still, TV3 introduced new voices - like Shane Jennings and Peter Stringer - to the party, while co-commentators Liam Toland and Stuart Barnes were excellent operators and there could be scope to recruit some of RTÉ's newer voices, like Shane Horgan and Ronan O'Gara, given the security it can offer over four seasons between 2018 and 2021.
Securing the rights is a bold statement of intent and TV3's next challenge is to use its World Cup experience to improve its package.