Glitzy mix as TV3 targets ratings winners

If last year’s new TV and radio schedule launches were dominated by RTÉ’s shadow-boxing with Newstalk over the Pat Kenny affair, fast forward 12 months and another station is throwing just as many shapes in a bid to defend its position.

Glitzy mix as TV3 targets ratings winners

TV3 launched its latest plan to take control of the Irish television market yesterday with the station’s usual mix of glitz, glamour and just a little pouting, to the fore.

However, despite flexing its broadcast muscles as fresh competition steps into the ratings ring, there was still a hint of anxiety in the air.

During a jam-packed two-hour launch show at the Mansion House in Dublin City, the independent station’s stars listed off expected viewer-winning hits in light entertainment (the return of Blind Date), drama (Red Rock and The Guarantee) and the usual array of US and UK shows.

TV3 chief executive David McRedmond’s speech showed there is just as much awareness of new competition in the form of UTV Ireland breathing down the 16-year-old channel’s neck.

Throughout the presentation, the senior broadcaster repeatedly pressed home TV3’s popularity compared to the current UTV brand.

Pointedly referencing the new pretender instead of the station’s usual RTÉ target, he said TV3 is “easily the second most watched station in the market, ahead of UTV and BBC combined”, has more adult viewers under the age of 45 who watch its adverts “than any other channel”, and has been “consistently under-estimated and consistently come out on top”.

Among the new shows that Mr McRedmond hopes will keep the “unashamedly populist” station in that position is the unexpectedly apt 1980s classic Blind Date — a one-time TV mainstay that pitched a well-matched duo together, before all-out-war often ensued. The reboot of the original show will be hosted by Lucy Kennedy.

Gogglebox Ireland — where viewers are recorded watching their favourite programmes — will also carry the station’s ratings hopes, as will Jason Byrne’s Snaptastic Show, in which the comedian will interview celebrities through their embarrassing childhood photos.

New home-made dramas such as The Guarantee, a take on the September 2008 bank guarantee decision, and Red Rock are predicted to draw in crowds, while documentaries such as A TD In My House, Prison Families, and The Islanders are also likely to raise eyebrows as only TV3 programmes know how.

The usual mix of Champions League football will be added to with coverage of the Rugby world cup next year, while The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent will continue to air.

With TV3 and UTV Ireland both revealing their potential ratings winners in recent days, viewers can sit back and wait for the battle of the Irish TV airwaves to commence.

Reality TDs

You’d swear there was an election just around the corner or something.

Four as yet unnamed TDs from across the country are set to don their most believable ‘we feel your pain’ faces over the coming months as part of a high-profile TV3 series.

In fly-on-the-wall documentary A TD In My House, the public representatives will live with families surviving on social welfare in their own constituency in a bid to better understand Ireland’s economic problems.

With vote-hungry TDs walking into an unknown, short-term relationship, an expected clash of lifestyles and the possibility of the odd embarrassing row being caught on camera, the programme is likely to run the risk of seeming more like another TV3 eye-catcher, Blind Date, than current affairs.

However, for those looking for the ‘real life’ part of the reality show, there is at least some home comfort in the fact most of the promises from politicians due to take part seem — at this stage — a bit light on detail.

“The TDs have not been confirmed [for the show] yet. It will be a range of TDs from across the country from different political parties. We don’t have an exact air-date confirmed yet,” said a spokesperson.

Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

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