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UPC Brings On Demand TV to Ireland

Last week UPC launched its groundbreaking new TV experience to its customers.

For the first time, this unique service offers customers the benefit of seven day catch-up TV from the RTÉ Player and 3player and over 1,300 hours of the best box sets and series for free. Additionally, Movies On-Demand is also available at the touch of a button.

Over one third of Dublin homes have instantly received the on demand service and it will roll out to the rest of the country throughout the summer to eventually reach 600,000 homes in Ireland.

Access to ITV, BBC and US box sets as well as the On Demand content from MGM, True Movies, Food Network, History and Discovery Channel will be available with further new programmes and content being added in the weeks ahead. Additionally, there are complete box sets of award winning US TV, such as Blue Bloods, The Good Wife and Dexter among others – available free of charge to UPC Select and Max customers through their UPC digital remote.

UPC has negotiated with the top Hollywood studios to allow customers to rent from hundreds of movies, including the latest box office hits, directly through their TV at the touch of a button. UPC will provide the latest release movies at the same time as they are available on DVD.

The on demand movies are very likely to pose yet further problems for Xtravision’s already struggling business model. We would anticipate an increased push behind their postal subscription service, although this still has nowhere near the ease of functionality that UPC is offering and does not provide a substantial cost saving.

The greater issue from a media planning point of view is the catch up TV service will most likely further fragment the viewing of TV as viewers also avail of online broadcast programme options.

Any viewers watching a programme on the catch up service rather than the TV broadcast (including anyone who recorded the programme and watched it later) will no longer be picked up by Nielsen as a TV viewer.

This will inevitably lead to a reduction in Nielsen monitored TV viewing – when fully rolled out the on demand service will be available in almost 40% of all homes.  Any reduction in monitored ad impressions will mean reduced supply for RTÉ and TV3 and may lead to price inflation (assuming demand does not reduce further than supply).

However, the viewers will not be lost; they will simply be watching the programme on a different feed. They will even be watching it on the same television set – as far as the viewer is concerned they are just watching the programme they want to watch on their TV, they will have no concept of which “feed” has supplied it.

Currently the catch up service does not carry advertising but the intention is that it will in the same manner as the online and mobile versions. The increased inventory the catch up service will provide for RTÉ and TV3 should also lead to deflation for “player” advertising be it either through straight reduction in cost per thousands or through the development of more optimized packages.

What we know for sure is that once the service is carrying advertising it will become even more important to ensure “player” advertising is incorporated into broadcast media plans since it will further blur the lines for the viewer about where they watch their TV and make it more about what they watch.

Chris Nolan – Director

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below

From Newspaper to ‘Newsbrand’

The oft maligned newspaper industry has frequently been accused of being (for want of a better term), “yesterday’s news” but, in the UK at least, positive steps appear to have been made this past week to address the evolving environment that newspapers are currently in.

The Newspaper Marketing Agency (UK) has rebranded itself as Newsworks. Their core objective is to “help advertisers and agencies harness the power of national ‘newsbrands’ – in all their forms – to achieve their communication objectives”.  It is funded by six national newspaper groups in the UK including Guardian News & Media, Independent Print Limited, Mail Newspapers, Mirror Group Newspapers, News International and Telegraph Media Group.  The organisation provides a range of services including research, case studies, creative benchmarking and training.

So what is the reason for the rebrand?   As Roy Greenslade highlighted in his Guardian blog this past Monday, the rebrand is “indicative of the changed landscape of the news industry”, i.e. the ways in which people consume and engage with news content are changing before our very eyes.  The new reality for publishers is that while consumer appetite for news and entertainment has not dwindled, the platforms through which content is consumed has changed dramatically.  The advent of mobile technology via smart phone and tablet has made accessing information on-the-go much easier and is actively contributing to a change in the consumption patterns of news and entertainment content.  Although print circulations are in decline, the printed product is still obviously a huge part of the mix for ‘newsbrands’ but it is (and will continue to be) just that, a single part of a multi platform offering.

Rebranding their marketing body as Newsworks is a clear sign that the UK industry has accepted this new reality.  Just take a minute to look at the actual name, Newsworks.  It is a clear signal that the definition of the newspaper publisher is being redefined.  Publishers or newsbrands can no longer be defined solely on the production of a daily printed product.  At their core, they are providers of content, whether it covers news, lifestyle, entertainment or sport.  Newsbrands still have huge influence within society and have the innate ability to generate debate amongst both the general public and rival media. According to Newsworks, in the UK, although the methods of content consumption and distribution of newsbrands content is becoming more varied, the rate at which people are beginning to access newsbrands on digital platforms is increasing faster than print readership is contracting.  This is clear evidence that the core offering from newsbrands is still relevant, important and being actively sought out by consumers.

The future for what we used to term ‘newspapers’ is clear.  It is now time to embrace it.

Garret Monahan – Head of Press

*Image courtesy of user sparkle glowplug on flickr

UPC Launch Three New RTÉ Channels


UPC are increasing their offering this week with the launch of three new RTÉ Digital channels. RTÉ One+1 launched on Tuesday the 13th March while RTÉ Two HD and RTÉjr, their children’s offering, launch today, Thursday 15th March.  The new channels will be available to all UPC Digital customers. SKY will carry RTE One+1 and RTEjr from May.

RTÉ Two HD will be a big draw for sports fans, broadcasting the RBS 6 Nations triple header this Saturday as well as Champions League games, key GAA championship fixtures and many more key sporting events across the year in high definition. RTÉjr will carry no advertising during preschool hours of 8:30am and 15:15. The channel will simulcast RTÉ2 until 15:15 and will then run on a loop until 19:00 when RTEOne+1 will kick in. As with the RTÉ player, Fair City will not be broadcast on RTÉ One+1 due to rights issues so the channel will be blank over this period.

“UPC is committed to bringing our customers the best possible Digital TV service and we are the only pay-TV provider to carry the RTÉ One+1 (EPG 107), RTÉ Two HD (EPG 135) and RTÉjr (EPG 600) channels,” said Simon Kelehan, head of TV, UPC. “The addition of these channels to our digital package offers our customers more television choice than ever before.”

Currently these channels are not tracked by Nielsen, however RTE One+1 is due to be monitored in the next 4 weeks with the other 2 having data in the next 6 weeks.

Until now RTÉ One +1, RTÉ Two HD and RTÉjr were only available to the 49,000 Saorview homes. The latest Nielsen data estimates 340,000 UPC Digital homes.

RTE One +1, RTE Two HD and RTEjr are available to Saorview customers at present, which translates to 49,000 homes. The latest Nielsen data estimates that there are a further 340,000 UPC Digital homes who can now benefit from these latest offerings.

Sarah Murphy – Broadcast Director

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below

Sun Sets On RTÉ Trading Policy

Following the recent Competition Authority ruling, it is very welcome news that RTÉ has agreed to abolish its practice of pricing television airtime based on the share it receives of an advertiser’s television budget. Their trading policy was based on the rule that the higher the share of television budget an advertiser gave to RTÉ, the less expensive the airtime. The policy made it difficult to plan budgets at an optimum level because the price of airtime on RTE rose significantly if an advertiser tried to give increased share to other television channels.

RTÉ have committed to change their trading system in July 2012, however, they planned to continue their current trading practice for the January to June period next year.  Our view is that by only releasing policy and prices for the January to June 2012 six month period this will make planning television next year very difficult and will create increased uncertainty. We are expecting RTÉ to relook at this and create a more stable planning environment for 2012.

The review from the Competition Authority (to be available here from mid December this year) also brings into sharp focus the debate on how RTÉ is funded and what this may look like in the future. With the appointment of Willie O’Reilly as Commercial Director, RTÉ have signalled their intention to look at a major restructure of their commercial division which will see a more centralised commercial approach across all their media platforms. A very interesting year awaits all TV stakeholders in 2012.

Ciaran Cunningham – CEO

Image courtesy of user Columbine at www.sxc.hu


As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

Local Press Backed By The Stats

Local Newspaper Week recently ran at the end of October.  This inaugural initiative was spearheaded by the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI) and was promoted to agencies and clients by Mediaforce Ireland.  The aim of the week long initiative was to “celebrate local newspapers and the important role they play right across Ireland.”

The launch of the initiative took place at the Alexander Hotel on Wednesday, 26th October and featured a presentation of the IPSOS/MRBI research and an address by Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte TD.

Over 30 RNPAI newspapers participated in the week-long event which included a 16-page tabloid supplement inserted into all participating titles which promoted local press, as well as details of a microsite.

So, what to make of this week long promotion of local press?

We live in a time when the media landscape presents us with more choice than ever before in terms of the breadth of vehicles we can use to target consumers.  It is also a time when newspapers (both national and regional) have received much criticism, with the doom merchants proclaiming the imminent demise of the medium on a regular basis.  With this in mind, it was very refreshing to see regional press raising its head above the parapet and making a concerted effort to re-establish its credentials amongst advertisers, agencies and the wider public. 

The tabloid supplement was a nice mixture of localised content for each title (featuring advertiser & reader testimonials and historical pieces on each paper) with additional information given on the background of the project and on the research results.  The research itself yet again affirmed the bedrock footing that local newspapers have in Ireland. 

Some key points:

  • 76% of households buy a local newspaper at least once a month
  • 63% of respondents trust their local paid for newspaper the most to deliver local news about their area
  • Three quarters of all respondents have an opinion that their local newspaper offers value for money
  • Levels of engagement remain high with half of all respondents reading the entire newspaper each week & the average length of reading per week is approximately 69 minutes
  • Respondents are strong advocates of local press both in terms of news (86%) and information on products & services (81%)

Source: RNPAI/Ipsos MRBI 2011

In addition to re-affirming the important role that local newspapers play among communities, it was encouraging to see RNPAI members actively going to local schools to promote and educate what will hopefully be their next generation of readers. This is a key area for the newspaper industry as a whole to address, in order to develop and maintain their readership in future years.

Efforts such as this are to be commended, given the battle the industry seems to be facing to prove itself.  Despite the continual evolution of digital, local newspapers still play a huge part in the lives of people across Ireland and cannot be overlooked by advertisers when seeking engagement at a local level.

Garret Monahan – Head of Press

Image courtesy of user ilco at www.sxc.hu

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.