TV3 is to change its name as part of a major rebranding of the station later this year.
The channel will become Virgin Media Television when its autumn schedule begins later this year, reflecting the multinational media company’s buy-out of the channel in 2015.
The announcement came as TV3 launched its spring schedule, the centrepiece of which is its Saturday doubleheader of Six Nations coverage and Ireland’s Got Talent.
TV3 will screen the Six Nations for the first time, having beaten RTÉ to the exclusive broadcast rights to all 15 of the tournament’s matches.
Its coverage will be hosted by Newstalk’s Joe Molloy who will be joined by a panel including Irish Examiner columnist Ronan O’Gara, Shane Horgan, Alan Quinlan, Shane Jennings, and Matt Williams.
Coverage of the Six Nations on Saturdays will be immediately followed by Ireland’s Got Talent.
The import of the UK ratings hit will be presented by Lucy Kennedy with judges Louis Walsh, Michelle Visage, Jason Byrne, and Denise Van Outen.
A spin-off show, Ireland’s Got Mór Talent, hosted by Glenda Gilson and James Kavanagh, will air following the main show and TV3 says it promises “exclusive access to all the behind-the-scenes gossip, unseen auditions, and exclusive interviews”.
Celebrity cooking show The Restaurant, fronted by Marco Pierre White, is back for a new season with new guest Rachel Allen.
On the drama front, Red Rock will return for 13 new episodes, as will Pat Shortt’s Smalltown, and the channel will also broadcast two-part drama The Bailout, set against the backdrop of the financial crisis.
TV3’s director of programming, Bill Malone, said 2017 saw the group deliver its best ever share of viewing.
“Now we aim to build on this great momentum with our most ambitious spring schedule,” he said. “2018 promises to be a landmark year of big events and quality Irish content on TV3.
“They don’t come much bigger than rugby’s greatest championship, the NatWest 6 Nations and the world’s biggest entertainment format, Ireland’s Got Talent.”
Mr Malone said the group’s position within Virgin Media will also allow it to distribute content “in new and exciting ways” this year.
Other sporting events on TV3 this spring will include the Champions League knock-out stages and horse racing, including The Cheltenham Gold Cup, Aintree Grand National, and the Epsom Derby.
TV3 also revealed that it will extend The Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates to four nights a week, Monday to Thursday, from February 5.
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