UTV Ireland launches onto Southern screens

Ireland got a new TV channel tonight with the arrival of UTV Ireland. I blogged about its availability in the North last month, if you’re interested.

I didn’t watch the opening night, but local film buff, Dan McGinn did and he has some interesting musings on UTV Ireland’s battle with TV3 and RTE over on his blog;

UTV Ireland will rely very heavily on ITV output such as ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Emmerdale’, ‘Harry Hill’s Stars In Their Eyes’ and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ to grab ratings.

It is up to RTE and TV3 to rise to the challenge but the latter, along with its sister station 3e, would appear to be more vulnerable to the challenger.

Many of TV3 and 3e’s ratings staples from ITV plus ‘The Graham Norton Show’ are disappearing from its schedules and going to UTV Ireland.

But in a bold move, TV3, which in recent years has been building up its factual content, original drama, coverage of live sport and investing in feature films like ‘The Guarantee’, has commissioned its own Garda based soap opera ‘Red Rock’ as part of its fightback.

It will be interesting to see if, over time, UTV Ireland broadens its output beyond news and current affairs programming and factual programmes like ‘Rare Breed’ and ‘Lesser Spotted Journeys’

Hats off though to TV3’s scheduler on UTV Ireland’s launch night.

Was his or her choice of movie franchise deliberately tongue in cheek?

TV3 broadcast the fourth ‘Mission Impossible’. The only question is: were they commenting on UTV Ireland’s or their own future?

Hopefully, Ireland’s broadcasting landscape is big enough for them both.
Did you watch the launch? Can UTV Ireland make a real go for it?

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  • “Did you watch the launch? Can UTV Ireland make a real go for it?”

    It’s not available in Northern Ireland, David.

    As I said on your previous breathless post on the topic…

    The 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments “for continuing co-operation on broadcasting issues on the island of Ireland” relates specifically to RTÉ [TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two] and BBC services.

    “The Memorandum commits the two Governments to facilitating the widespread availability of RTE services in Northern Ireland on a free-to-air basis, and BBC services in Ireland on a paid for basis.”

    It should be noted that you need a HD Freeview system to be able to view the RTÉ signal in Northern Ireland.

    UTV, being a private company, can do whatever they want. And what they want is, apparently, to usurp TV3.

    As for whether UTV Ireland was ever supposed to be available in Northern Ireland. Well, the clue’s in the name…

  • Ian Rate

    Missed the launch but I look forward to seeing Chris O’Donoghue, his first TV gig, but is self assured on morning radio, reminds me a bit of Nicky Campbell on R5.

  • Dan

    Hi Pete, UTV Ireland is available in NI if you have a Saorview box or Saorview accredited digital TV. I live in Co Down and my mum was watching in north Belfast last night too. John, the channel number is 6 on Saorview

  • Jag

    In 2013, RTE had a 34.25% share of adult TV viewership in the 18.00-23.29 peak viewing times, comprising 26.64% RTE, 0.63% RTE1 catchup and 6.96% RTE 2. That’s in multichannel homes (cable/sat/boosted aerial) which comprise 90% of the Republic’s households. In Saorview only homes, RTE has a 38% share,

    TV3/3e has a 13% share and TG4, the Irish language channel, 2% in multichannel homes.

    I expect RTE’s share will fall below 30% with the launch of UTVI. That’s because of current affairs competition at 10pm and soap opera competition to RTE’s Fair City from TV3’s new Irish version of “The Bill” which it calls “Red Rock” and from the still unspecified platform for Pat Kenny on UTV. UTVI will also bring us some more of the popular ITV dramas like Midsomer Murders, which, although British are well-made and definitely entertaining. With a sub-30% share though, can RTE justify the EUR 160 a year licence fee? After the protests against Irish Water, I don’t think any government is going to risk introducing a broadcast charge anytime soon.

    I expect TV3/3e’s share will fall to 8% as it will lose 15 of its Top 20 programmes (Corrie, Emmerdale) and X Factor will be off the air until the next season (I think that’s right, I have never watched it but it does have seasons, right?). If the new soap “Red Rock” fails, then I expect it will slump to 5% and its future will be questioned.

    I expect UTVI will build a 8% share of viewing; that’s less than the 13% ITV gets in the UK, but that reflects the relatively modest investment it is making in domestic Irish programming.

    Current affairs will be of most interest to folks on here. UTVI will have a nightly 1-hour current affairs show fronted by Chris Donoghue and Alison Comyn. Pat Kenny is also to anchor current affairs but right now, it’s not clear how that will work. UTVI will do current affairs at 10-11pm nightly compared to 9.35-10.20pm for RTE and 11.00-11.55pm for TV3. Vincent Browne normally has 2-3 programmes a week in the Top 20 for TV3 with audiences of around 120-140,000 but he does deal with convoluted material at such a late hour when Mr Sandman is visiting most people.

    Whilst short order current affairs will be boosted, there is no sign of investigative current affairs, so all we may get are slightly different voices competing more intensely with each other.

  • Dan

    I watched for ten minutes. Doubt I’ll watch again

  • It’s available via Saorview spillover to 50-55% of NI population … as long as you’ve a set top box capable of picking up FreeView HD and and your old ‘RTE aerial’ pointing the right direction.

  • Channel 6 on Saorview .. if you’re using a Freeview box, it’ll be shoved up to a very high channel number

  • Barneyt

    What’s next, RTE NI?

  • Fraggle

    oh god, not more corrie !!!

  • Kevin Breslin


    Rádio Telífís Éireann an Tuaisceart!