Thursday 18 October 2018

Total revamp for RTE2 as it launches new TV offensive

Digital premieres and reality shows to grab the lucrative 18 to 35s market

COMEDY: Andy Quirke, of ‘Damo and Ivor’ fame
COMEDY: Andy Quirke, of ‘Damo and Ivor’ fame
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

RTE2 will reveal its first rebrand in five years alongside a host of major schedule changes this week, as it fights to stem falling advertising revenues in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

The channel's rebrand and schedule change, to be unveiled on Thursday, is designed to recapture the lucrative 18-35 market.

Despite reporting a €1.1m net surplus last year thanks to major cost-cutting, advertising revenues at RTE television are still down 40pc from their peak in 2007.

RTE2 has been hit particularly badly, as the 18-35 demographic it targets has flocked to the internet and services like Netflix for content.

The revamped RTE2 will place a much heavier emphasis on digital content delivery. Each of its shows will have their own social media strategy. Bosses are encouraged by the Twitter popularity of Damo and Ivor, the satirical programme created by comedian Dave Quirke of the Quirke arcade dynasty. Several shows will also premiere online.

More reality-style documentaries will feature, such as a show tracking the lives of five women over 10 weeks. It is based on an Israeli format.

A programme called Drunk will also air. It will track the changing physiology of a group of Irish people as they become intoxicated.

More shows will be Irish-made than ever before. "Post 9pm, most of our content with be Irish," said RTE's head of television Glen Killane.

Mr Killane has not ruled out selling this home-produced content to online distributor Netflix. The public service broadcaster recently launched an international sales division called RTE Global, which sells formats developed by RTE to networks around the world.

Several RTE formats, including crafting show CraftMaster and The Hit, have already been sold.

"I want to position Ireland as a centre of excellence for formats, like Israel or Holland" said Mr Killane.

But, "there is no one silver bullet that will solve a 40pc decline in television advertising revenues," he added.

The rebrand is happening at a turbulent time for Irish television. Two new stations, UTV Ireland and Irish TV, will be on air by 2015.

Mr Killane said this was not a concern, despite the fact that UTV is targeting a market share in the teens within two years.

"UTV Ireland will be making Irish content and providing Irish jobs. We welcome that. Our problem is with UK channels like Sky Living and Dave, who soak up Irish advertising without producing any Irish content. They sell ads at grossly reduced rates."

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