Sunday 17 November 2019

TV3 to rebrand as Virgin Media Television with new sports channel and 8pm nightly news

The new branding will arrive on August 30

Louis Walsh, Lucy Kennedy, Jason Byrne at the launch of TV3's autumn schedule and rebranding at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. PIC: Brian McEvoy
Louis Walsh, Lucy Kennedy, Jason Byrne at the launch of TV3's autumn schedule and rebranding at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. PIC: Brian McEvoy
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

TV3 Group will rebrand as Virgin Media Television from August 30.

The group’s three free-to-air channels TV3, 3e and be3 will be rebranded as Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Two and Virgin Media Three while the 3player will become Virgin Media Player.

Virgin Media One will see the launch of a new 8pm News bulletin, anchored by Claire Brock and the return of Ireland's Got Talent as well as a new psychological drama, Blood, starring Line of Duty's Adrian Dunbar.

A new sports channel, Virgin Media Sports, which will be exclusive to, and free for, Virgin Media Television customers, will launch in September.

The group will air over 450 football matches in the coming season including UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa Leage as well as qualifiers for UEFA Euro 2020 and some fixtures from the UEFA Nations League from September and Graeme Souness will head the panel of experts.

As well as the NatWest 6 Nations, the Heineken Champions Cup Rugby will be live on free-to-air for the first time since 2006.  Nine live Heineken Champions Cup games will be aired with one live group stage match per week, followed by one quarter-final and one semi-final ahead of the Champions Cup Final in May.

"We will have three free to air channels and one Virgin Media exclusive channel, which is exclusive to Virgin Media customers," says Virgin Media Television programme director Bill Malone.

"So we will have more free-to-air sport than ever before, and an exclusive sports channel."

Details of which events will be free-to-air and which will be exclusive to Virgin Media Sport will be announced closer to the autumn schedule.

While international formats including soaps Emmerdale and Corrie and I'm A Celebrity will return, there will be a greater focus on Irish content, with the return of Living with Lucy, Gogglebox and Ireland's Got Talent.

There are also documentaries Inside James's, from St James's Hospital in Dublin and Inside Ireland's Biggest Prison as well as The Town which will follow several families' lives in Portlaoise.  David McWilliams and Donncha O'Callaghan will also feature in David McWilliams: Back to the Future and Donncha O'Callaghan's Sporting Afterlife.

"There's more Irish content," adds Malone, "We've got 8-10 hours of Irish content every day on Virgin Media One.  The focus is on more quality Irish.  And we've just announced the new 8pm nightly news which is a big deal as well as the recommissioning of Ireland's Got Talent, and the big sports deals we announced recently."

The changes will result in more positions opening up at the group,.

"There has to be [more jobs]," says Bill. "This is an industry and a business ing rowth. We're improving quality and adding a lot more so yes, there will be more positions."

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