RTÉ Player gets 'Netflix-style overhaul' to include archived shows and more original content

Boxset viewers and fans of Irish original content are set for a binge-watching boost as the revamped RTÉ Player is launched before the end of the week.

Viewers will be able to gorge on original Irish content exclusive to the RTÉ Player, which will resemble the user-friendly style of Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The plans were unveiled at an RTÉ briefing in Cork, where staff said the new player would totally overhaul the catch-up television-style model it has followed.

Director general Dee Forbes said RTÉ did not want to be Netflix, and would differentiate itself with a lot more Irish content.

In a bid to attract a younger audience, the new player will be collaborating with content producers to produce shows only available on the overhauled platform.

It will have 20 original titles to begin with, including a show with Doireann Garrihy, the 26-year-old social media sensation who has made the leap to television in recent months, while favourites like Love/Hate will also be available.

Archived favourites should also prove popular with viewers nostalgic for the likes of 1990s teenage gameshow Blackboard Jungle, which helped propel Ray D’Arcy to national stardom.

Major hit Love/Hate is sure to gain a whole new audience after its barnstorming run on the State broadcaster between 2010 and 2014.

The player will be advert-based but in a way that is not overwhelming to the viewer, RTÉ staff said.

It was a myth that traditional media was dead, Ms Forbes said, but the shift to online platforms was a “parallel track”.

Head of online, Aoife Byrne, said:

“We’re going to start rolling out website today, and the mobile apps tomorrow and Friday, on all connected devices. It’s been a huge project for RTÉ. Our competition is global, so if we are to survive and be relevant for the next generation, we have to have that ambition to be as good as Netflix and Amazon, but yet be distinctive.

“People have changed and don’t wait for us to come to them - we need to give them content how they want to watch it.

We’ve basically gone from a couple of hundred episodes of catch-up television to a platform for literally people to immerse themselves in. We’ve got live channels to watch on any device, we’ve got brand new channels, an archive channel, a food channel - it will really serve our audience.

“It will be a destination to go to like Netflix or YouTube -- we have thousands of hours. All the best of RTÉ drama from the last 10 years, hundreds of documentaries, a kids mode which will lock off any unsuitable content.

“Television does a brilliant job of doing television -- we are here to fill the gaps, not here to try and duplicate that. Nearly 70% of our Player audience is under 45, and 60% of our streaming is on mobile devices, so there is huge appetite for short-form content.”

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