RTÉ viewers are to be provided with increased catch-up opportunities for their favourite TV programmes.
RTÉ is expected to launch an RTÉ2 +1 channel in the near future. The move was recently sanctioned by Communications Minister Richard Bruton.
The state broadcaster is also expected to extend the transmission times of its existing RTÉ One +1 service, which was originally launched in 2011, to a 24-hour basis.
A RTÉ spokesperson said plans were “under way” for the proposed changes, which RTÉ believes will stabilise its market share and strengthen RTÉ’s channels as a whole.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has estimated the proposed changes will generate an additional €1.7m in advertising revenue for the station each year and an annual net benefit of €1m after costs.
“The new, time-shifted RTÉ2 +1 channel will run from 7pm to 2am on weekdays and 12 noon to 2am on weekends, with RTÉ One +1 running 24 hours,” the spokesperson said.
“It is RTÉ’s intention to make these services as widely available as possible on all television services and platforms, beginning with Saorview and Saorsat, shortly.”
In a submission to the Department of Communications, RTÉ said a recent study, commissioned by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, had shown that live TV will remain the major component of all TV viewing in 2022, although the range of devices available to consumers was creating the expectation that content should be available anytime and anywhere.
As RTÉ One +1 currently shares a channel slot with RTÉjr, it will require both channels to be assigned their own slot on the Saorview platform, RTÉ said.
RTÉ One +1 would remain a stagger-cast channel and an exact replica of its parent channel.
It also wants flexibility on the transmission hours of RTÉ2 +1 to cater for audience demand and special events, particularly sports.
“Scenarios where this might apply include major sporting events and tournaments, such as the World Cup, Olympics, and golf coming from other time zones,” it said.
The station said the proposed changes were “both warranted and desirable”, adding: “The extension of the hours of RTÉ One +1 will increase the opportunity to access this flagship public service content by widening it beyond the peak-time schedule.”
RTÉ said +1 channels provided a convenient catch-up service to meet the needs of viewers who do not use online catch-up services, like the RTÉ Player, or who do not have access to broadband.
The broadcaster said such channels were now expected by the viewing public, with 104 +1 channels currently available to Irish TV viewers.
Research, carried out by RTÉ last year, showed that 64% of viewers had watched +1 channels at least once a week, with 52% having watched RTÉ +1.