Wednesday 20 February 2019

TV3/Virgin weigh up best way to score with sport deal

Everton’s Seamus Coleman in action. Photo: Getty
Everton’s Seamus Coleman in action. Photo: Getty

We're not quite into silly season in the media world just yet, but speculation is rife in the industry as to what TV3 and Virgin will do with all their extra sports rights.

A deal announced last month sees them obtain exclusive Irish rights to all Wednesday Champions League matches as well as all Thursday Europa League matches and the finals of both competitions. It also allows the Virgin Media Group to share 16 of the Tuesday night matches with RTE and own the exclusive rights to 327 matches across Europe's premier and secondary club competitions.

Several industry insiders believe TV3 will launch a new channel to cope with its extra content. At the moment, TV3 captures a broad entertainment audience, 3e is younger and female biased, while Be3 is a bit older and again female biased. "What they need to 'complete the circle' is a young, male channel," said one senior media insider.

But there wouldn't be enough sports for a full-time sports channel. Could it consider putting a long-talked about children's channel on during the day and dedicate it to sports at night? There are significant restrictions on advertising to children, so that wouldn't be a big money spinner but it might further complete the TV3 offering.

Alternatively, TV3 could keep the cream of the crop on its main channels and offer more niche matches on some type of red button basis or offer them on a digital channel. One way or another, there is no doubt that Virgin will be seeking to leverage the new pricey sports packages to sell more packages of its own.

McCollum could be valuable Brexit addition for Glanbia

Troubled Monaghan co-op LacPatrick has attracted the interest of four suitors - Glanbia Ireland, Aurivo, Lakelands and Dale Farm - and Glanbia is believed to be well-placed to come out on top.

In recent weeks, Janet McCollum, of Moy Park, joined the board of Glanbia Ireland as a non-executive director and it was subsequently announced that she was stepping down as ceo of Moy Park.

McCollum was one of the most outspoken anti-Brexit business leaders from Britain and Northern Ireland ahead of the vote. "Any move away from the free market in which we currently operate could increase tariffs, add administrative burdens and limit export opportunities," she warned. Much of LacPatrick's milk comes from Northern Ireland, making it effectively a cross-border business. Having McCollum on the board of Glanbia Ireland would be very timely if it emerges as the successful buyer and tries to navigate the choppy waters ahead.

Will Timoney bring her cider skills to Heineken in the US?

Mayowoman Maggie Timoney is returning to the US, where she went to college on a basketball scholarship, to run Heineken there. Timoney has worked for the drinks company since 1998 and took up the top job in Cork in 2013.

Industry observers say she is being rewarded with the US role due to an impressive performance in Ireland, which included riding out a fake craft beer controversy (which she dealt with swiftly) and extricating Heineken from the long-delayed Cork convention centre back in 2016, when Heineken sold out to construction giant Bam.

Her outstanding achievement was the development and launch of cider Orchard Thieves, which is chipping away at C&C's dominance in Ireland. Heineken wants another bite of the apple with its new cider brand Applegreen, launched in Ireland a few weeks ago.

In the US, C&C has struggled badly with its 2013 acquisition, Vermont Hard Cider, and the overall category has gone flat.

Will Timoney see any opportunity in cider Stateside?

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