This Season’s TV Programme Schedule

This year the broadcasters have been busy releasing their new spring schedules with each station promising to offer viewers something unique and different. We explore what’s really on offer from each of the stations.

RTÉ’s spring schedule is quite traditional, with some highlights, but once again I think they have forgotten about their younger audience and have failed to schedule against the digital offerings in the Irish market. RTÉ 1 delivered no surprises with shows like Raw, Supergarden and The Saturday Night Show all returning.  New shows include Saving the Titanic, an international co-production to mark the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and Ireland Outside the Euro, a documentary that explores exactly what it says on the tin.

Bankers such as The Late Late Show, Operation Transformation and Mrs Browns Boys all remain in the schedule.  Over on RTÉ2, US dramas like Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy are present but with Living showing Grey’s ahead of RTÉ and Channel 4 showing Desperate Housewives in the same week they don’t still hold the same appeal.  New US sitcom 2 Broke Girls launched in January but with disappointing results, only attracting an average of 29,000 MC A15-34 over the first two weeks. Sport continues to play a big role on RTÉ2 with both Premier Soccer Saturday and The Six Nations airing.

TV3 launched their schedule together with the cast of all their hit shows in the convention centre on the 26th of January.  Home productions continue to play a key role for RTÉ, relying heavily on reality shows and documentaries. Come dine with me Ireland returns to our screens in spring with new reality shows including Tallafornia, Southside Housewives, Hen Nights and The Great Irish Bake-Off.  Other highlights include Mastermind and the return of the new series of Dallas which should attract both the older and younger audiences.

TV3 are eager to get some big rating pullers into their schedule throughout the year instead of having to rely on shows like X factor and The Apprentice in Q4 which performed disappointingly for them last year. While I am not sure that they have cracked it with any of the above, I do think they will appeal to a mixed audience and will help broaden the profile of the station.

Elsewhere, SKY announced Irish advertising opt outs for 3 new channels – At The Races in January, SKY Living +1 in February and SKY 2 in March.  Highlights across SKY include the return of Next Top Model on Living, the start of Friday Night Lights on Atlantic and Spartacus: Vengeance will run on SKY1.

So do we think the above is enough to put an end of the viewing slump all stations experienced at the beginning of the year? I don’t feel like any station has the “next big thing” in their schedules but who would have thought that Mrs. Browns Boys would attract 2 million more viewing on BBC than Jonathan Ross interviewing David Beckham on ITV. I do think the schedules offer increased Irish home produced content and new shows to the market which will appeal to a diverse audience.  With several places for viewers to be able to watch TV content now, it is important that the broadcasters continue to offer something unique to viewers.

Sarah Murphy – Broadcast Director

*Image courtesy of user miamiamia at 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.

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Super Bowl Ads Still Giant and Patriotic

It’s that time of year again, when America and indeed much of the rest of the world sit up and take note of the Super Bowl where, this year, the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots. But the game itself is not where our interest lies (although here are some big hit highlights for you anyway because we’re nice like that)…

The real battle is taking place during the many breaks in play- the battle of the advertisers. Coca Cola versus Pepsi. Chevy versus Chrysler. Ferris Bueller versus- wait, what?

These days, Super Bowl ads are a tradition in their own right and they epitomise the harmony that exists between the mediums of TV and online. Yes, everyone still watches the ads during the match in America while the rest of the world needs to watch them online, but we also now find that every year many of the ads are available online before they air live. Some are released in full and some are drip-fed to us in teaser form. This creates a massive buzz among people online and gains much of that Holy Grail for advertisers- earned media. There are even websites that are purely dedicated to the viewing, rating and slating of Super Bowl ads.

This year, some of the biggest online buzz has followed a teaser campaign centred on Mathew Broderick reprising his role as Ferris Bueller from that 80’s classic. Much speculation surrounded what brand the full ad would reveal and, once it was discovered that it would be for Honda, speculation kicked off again as to what creative idea would be executed and, finally, the full video was revealed online. At the time of writing, both the teaser and the full video already have over 5 million views on YouYube. This is before the first live TV airing during the match has even taken place.

It would be unforgivable to waste the opportunities afforded online here as the cost for just a single 30 second TV spot during this massive event can reach a staggering $3.5m. The cost of leveraging this with online activity pales in comparison, while the benefits are plain to see.

Enjoy the action on Sunday night- oh and the football too…

Daniel Murphy – Planning

*Image courtesy of user vanrooy at www.flickr.com

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.

Noel Curran’s Home Truths

The recent Competition Authority ruling (discussed previously by our CEO Ciaran Cunningham) which has resulted in RTÉ’s decision to abandon its practice of share dealing (or offering discounts based on the share advertisers give them of overall TV budgets), is almost certainly going to create more focus in 2012 on how public service broadcasting should be funded. RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran had some interesting views on the very subject in his lecture to DCU’s School of Communications on 17th October last.

The speech made more headlines for his stated intention to shave 30 per cent off the salaries of RTE’s top talent. But there was much more than that. In a wide-ranging talk that painted a very vivid picture of the competitive media landscape, Curran made some solid arguments in favour of Public Broadcasting or “Public Media”, as he said it should now be termed.

“Nothing in Ireland bridges the worlds of information and culture, or operates with greater trust and popularity, than does Public Broadcasting”. While accepting that other broadcasters also provide a public service content in part too, they engage in it, he said, “because it suits their legitimate profit motive, either in terms of advertising return or as part of a case to access public funding.”  That’s fine, but it perhaps came across as belittling the efforts of independent broadcasters, at both national and local level, who provide this ‘public service’ output for the very reason that some audiences are not getting it from RTÉ and have shown that they can generate commercial revenue from it without compromising its integrity, quality or acceptability.

Curran forcefully translated the doublespeak of competitors who make the case that licence fee money should only be spent on “programmes that the market will not provide” were essentially saying that RTÉ should just “do whatever doesn’t make money for us.” To be fair, he has a point here because that has been largely the unspoken sentiment of various privately-owned media since the launch of the independent sector over the last twenty years ago, even though the ground rules were known to them when taking up commercial licences.

Given the parlous state that the Irish nation and our collective psyche is in at the moment, it is hard not to find some sympathy for the RTÉ DG’s belief that there is “a need for a publicly-owned media service with a strong Irish voice”. RTÉ can be accused of ignoring the effect of its commercial behaviour on the broader media landscape but a weakened RTÉ is almost certainly not in the interests of Irish businesses, brands, audiences and if the truth be told, their indigenous competitors too.

Read the full text of Noel Curran’s lecture here.

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.

The Inside Scoop

It often seems quite difficult to avoid hearing quotes from commentators in the media about the impending demise of the newspaper industry.  It is a subject that all newspapers are grappling with at the current time with circulations dropping and ad revenue being squeezed on all sides, especially by digital. This documentary on the iconic New York Times provides a great insight into the issues being faced.

Page One – Inside the New York Times”, directed by Andrew Rossi, examines how the New York Times is managing to stay relevant and commercially viable in the new modern age when it is being attacked on all sides by a plethora of online rivals providing news and analysis in different formats, nearly all of which are free. 

Shot over a period of 14 months, the director gains access to the newsroom of America’s “paper of record” at a time when the paper is facing the biggest threats to its very survival since it was founded in 1896.  The core storyline in the film follows the reporters at the newspapers’ Media Desk, established in 2008, which covers the media industry but also the evolution of new media and its impacts on traditional media institutions such as the New York Times itself.  

With a multitude of different stories and issues that evolve during the film, from how social media has impacted on journalism, to the severe downturn that has hit the U.S. newspaper industry and to how the New York Times went about putting its online content behind a pay wall, the film is often quite chaotic (but most newspaper working environments generally are).  However the film presents a great fly on the wall experience and an extremely honest view of the workings of one of the world’s great newspapers and how it is battling to survive in the face of mounting challenges both in terms of how news content is being consumed and the impact this will have on the future of the newspaper.

This really is mandatory viewing.

Garret Monahan – Head of Press

*Film released in September 2011 and is now available to buy or rent on DVD from most video stores.

Image courtesy of dogwoof.com

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

Fuelling Consumers’ Passions


David Peters, the Head of Carat Sponsorship UK, was in Dublin last week and talking to him about the work they are doing in the UK really drove home how we all now approach sponsorship from a completely different direction.

Sponsorship is no longer about finding a programme or vehicle that our audience enjoys and then just trying to associate the brand with it.

It is about identifying our consumer’s passions and then building a relationship between our brand, the consumer and these passions.

Our recent Kellogg’s sponsorship of Xposé is a great example of how we identified and developed a sponsorship out of an insight and passion. The Special K consumer has a very clear passion for beauty and fashion. We also know that they indulge this passion on a daily basis through many frequent but short touchpoints with the genre.

Xposé provided us with the perfect vehicle to deliver all the values and merits that we want to be associated with Special K. In addition Xposé forms part of the daily ritual for its fans as they interact with it across the day and week. As we built the sponsorship we ensured that there was a link between Special K and Xposé across all of its many touchpoints – TV broadcast, 3player, online streaming, magazine supplements, Facebook page, twitter feed, YouTube page, live events and many more. It is this “always on” nature of the show that made it the perfect fit to associate with.

But this is still not enough to truly build a relationship in the consumers’ eyes. Gone are the days when the words “this show has been brought to you by” actually make people believe the show would not be there for them to watch if it wasn’t for the goodness of the advertiser. Ironic given we are now in a broadcast production era when many shows actually would not be there but for the advertisers commitment of funding.

To ensure the consumers accept the relationship between, fashion, beauty, Xposé and Special K we have also built a series of events for Special K consumers around fashion using Xposé presenters and including coverage across Xposé’s many touchpoints. We have taken the sponsorship outside of the programme itself with week long cross station promotions across TV3 and press partnerships.

We often find we identify a consumer passion for which there is no easy broadcast sponsorship solution.

Our activity for Lucozade last summer shows the kind of incredible inventive solution we can come up with to ensure we fuel our consumers’ passions.

We identified a very clear passion about live music from our core audience and the natural place for us to build on this passion was the music festival season. Rather than just sponsoring a festival or a stage (the equivalent of stings on a TV programme) we saw an opportunity to help them enjoy their festival experience rather than define their festival experience for them.

We created our own media properties ranging from a Lucozade bus that took people to the festivals for free (thereby removing the only boring part of the whole event), radio and press segments encouraging festival goers to share their experiences, right through to a TV3e series to find people to broadcast live from the festivals for transmission on air. All the elements showed the consumers how Lucozade was not just trying to say “hey we like music too” but was actually doing something to help them enjoy the festivals even more.

It is how we activated the communication around the consumer’s passions that have made these sponsorships work. We have taken the activity far beyond buying stings, to full integration and a clear demonstration for the consumer of how we are building on their passion for them.

Many media and property owners themselves have now realised that sponsorship is almost entirely about activation rather than just awareness. The most blatant example of this we have seen recently is from the 2012 Olympics. All the official sponsors get for their money (and it’s a lot of money) is the right to use the rings and say they are partners. No broadcast rights, no logos on kit, not even a logo on the backdrop of a stage. How the sponsors use the rings is entirely up to them and will still have immense value for the target consumers – but it is something that they and their agencies will need to develop and deliver themselves.

There is no shirking this. No one can say “well we’ve spent all that money on the rings we aren’t going to waste anymore on it now”. As we have seen already, they will have to activate it and build the relationship themselves or it’s worthless.

Which is the right way to do it.

Chris Nolan – Director

Image courtesy of user farhana at www.saddingtonbaynes.com

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