TV3 aims to score with new ad model on sports channel
Rebranded TV3 to offer targeted ads on new Virgin Sports channel
Commercial broadcaster to use set-top box data to woo advertisers
TV3, which is owned by Virgin Media, will launch targeted advertising on its platform for the first time next year via its new sports station. This means ads will be based on information gathered in Virgin boxes and tailored to the patterns of individual viewers.
The station will be available to customers on the Virgin Media platform at no extra cost, but it is expected that non-Virgin customers will have to pay for the channel.
TV3 announced last week that it would rebrand TV3, 3E and Be3 as Virgin One, Two and Three. TV3 managing director Pat Kiely said it represented a significant investment in the group's free-to-air channels.
He said that the aim of Virgin Two will be to leapfrog RTE Two to become the country's third-most popular station after RTE One and TV3, which marks its 20th anniversary in September.
Virgin Sports will be a fourth channel and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland approved a new Section 71 licence for it at a board meeting last Thursday.
Kiely said the commercial model would involve advanced advertising. "We are going to take a big step into (set top) box data," he said.
"We have boxes in 300,000 homes in Ireland and we have entered into a partnership with Sky across UK and Ireland in the Adsmart brand. Having a channel like Virgin Sport and an ability to sell addressable advertising, we can sell advertising in the future in a very different way."
"In 2019 we expect to be able to launch our addressable advertising service," he told the Sunday Independent. He said the technology would see the business take a "giant leap" into the advertising space previously occupied by Facebook and Google.
The new channel will create 20 to 30 new jobs and the group's third studio has been opened to facilitate the new station. "We've had a phenomenal couple of years in sport, really going back to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 which was the beginning of a real turnaround for the business in terms of its reputation with sport," Kiely said. The company recently secured rights to all Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League matches for the next three years.
"It has created a fantastic opportunity to take some of that sport and house it on a sports channel and give sports fans even more than they are getting in the free-to-air space," he said.
He confirmed that the Champions League Final, the Europa League final, and the Heineken Champions Cup finals would be on Virgin One, staying free-to-air.
He revealed TV3 has also done a deal with CAA11, the representatives of Uefa in international football, which gives TV3/Virgin the rights to all competitive European international football outside of Republic of Ireland matches, such as qualifiers for the Euros and World Cup.
He said the rebranding would also help the group compete in a changing market. "We're evolving independent broadcasting in Ireland. TV3 was the brand for a single channel, free-to-air business, older technology, which has morphed into a three-channel, multi-platform business. And the brand has lagged behind where the business was going.
"Essentially the new brand lets us catch up on not only where the business has got to technologically and in terms of the media offering but it also future-proofs the business. We now have a seamless platform between the channels and the platform and the on-demand service," he said. "The TV3 brand has held us back and this rebrand will give us all an opportunity to reboot and relook at what we're doing as a connected entertainment business."
Virgin One, now TV3, will continue to carry sport and will add a new 8pm evening news bulletin.
Kiely said that viewership of summer reality hit Love Island was between 100,000 and 200,000 on live viewing but the number doubled to over 300,000 when catch-up was included. "It has become the most popular show on the player and in the time-shifted space."
He said that it does not matter to the company where the programme is being viewed. "Because we are picking it up on both sides. If everyone shifts to watching content on demand, well actually we're as heavily invested in that as we are in free-to-air.
"It's a great foot in two camps for the business, it's an essential hedge because we put ourself in a position where we can follow eyeballs.
"And ad revenue follows the eyeballs."
Sunday Indo Business