TV3 unveils new faces as it gears up for ratings battle with newcomer UTV
TV3 is readying itself for battle with UTV Ireland come January 2015.
The station unveiled details of its upcoming slate of programming yesterday at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.
Highlights include the production of new home-grown soap 'Red Rock', rights to screen the Rugby World Cup and acquisition of popular Channel 4 series 'Gogglebox'.
Two new TV3 faces were also unveiled – economist David McWilliams, who will quiz international political figures on a current affairs programme, while comedian Jason Byrne will front a comedy series based around embarrassing childhood photographs.
Ballymount-based TV3 suffered a blow last year when it lost the Irish rights to 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale'.
UTV was quick to move, with UTV managing director Michael Wilson claiming TV3 had "dropped the ball".
However, TV3 CEO David McRedmond is viewing the loss of the soaps as "an opportunity".
"The two soaps had a combined viewing share of 8pc," he explained. "TV3 couldn't justify spending close to 40pc of our expendable budget on the two shows.
"Freeing up this money gives us a chance and opportunity to develop a new and innovative series."
Twice-weekly soap 'Red Rock' will become one of the station's flagship programmes and will employ over 100 people on a full-time basis.
"It's still early days," head of content Jeff Forde said.
"There are only two episodes written but they're very strong."
Filming will begin in October and producer Ed Guiney, who has previously worked on 'Bachelors Walk', hopes to employ "fresh-faced actors".
"We have yet to cast the show but are really excited about discovering new talent and seeing who's out there," he said.
Meanwhile, Today FM presenter Matt Cooper will front the Rugby World Cup coverage.
TV3 will broadcast live coverage of all 48 matches and retain their broadcast rights for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa league.
The station will also produce two new game shows – 'Sitting On A Fortune' and 'Algorithm' – which sees families and friends going head to head with a statistical system.
Key acquisitions for the station include 'The X Factor', 'Britain's Got Talent' and lifelong rights to period drama 'Downton Abbey'.
"2015 will be a landmark year for TV3," Forde said. "Our home-produced content will increase from 40pc to 50pc – it's ambitious, scary and very exciting."