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Red Rock Let Down By TV3

Red Rock is Ireland's latest soap opera. A good series so far, however its audience numbers have dwindled since its first episode aired in January. This fall was to be expected with any new soap, or drama, however TV3's other programmes are causing Red Rock to haemorrhage viewers. Had Red Rock premiered on either RTÉ ONE or UTV Ireland it would have seen a huge bounce in numbers due to the different level of programming available on TV3's main competitors. Both channels would have supported Red Rock with other soaps, dramas and other programming. However Red Rock is left with Daytime TV shows during prime time, repeats of 5 year old English programmes, such as Cowboy Builders, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and On Benefits and Proud and finally repeats of weekend ITV programming.

TV3's decision not to launch Red Rock in 2014 has cost them dearly. That J curve that the TV executive might envisage maybe a long time coming considering the audiences lack of interest in the rest of the TV3 schedule. To be fair to TV3 some of their home produce shows do bring in viewers such as The Restaurant, Amanda At Work and Slaptastic, but those programmes are also failed due to TV3’s schedule. Other programmes like Broadchurch have some cache but remain low in terms of audience. This could be due to TV3's decision to air Broadchurch an hour after ITV.

Of the top 20 shows 4 are daytime programmes (Judge Judy) and 2 repeat ITV programmes (The Cube and Ant and Dec), which are due to begin new seasons UTV Ireland.

TV3's decision to ditch their Blind Date (pardon the pun) in favour of Daytime TV in a prime time slot remains to be seen as a good move. Late Lunch Live's move to The Seven O' Clock Show could be seen as TV3 aiming at the Nationwide/The One Show audience. However the show hasn't changed all that much, it’s a lick of paint on an average Daytime TV series. It lacks the local news stories from around the country that attracts so many viewers to Nationwide and The One Show. If TV3 can bring its audience to the kind of audience achieved by Xpose (around 100,000 viewers) then it will be a badly need bandage, however if the show loses an audience from its Late Lunch Live time slot it will be a server slap in the face to all involved.

I don't mean to begrudge TV3 any viewers but it’s hard to feel sorry for a channel that put off having to change until the very last minute. In fairness to them it was going to be a big task, but their failure to grow an audience outside the ITV soaps shows how little of a handled they had on their task. (TV3 audience share is back to pre-2001 levels).

TV3's coverage of the Rugby World Cup is a big step in recovery for the channel and TV3 will hope to utilise that audience to push Red Rock and other TV3 titles. The second headline news was its ability to retain Champions League, when ITV lost the rights, meaning TV3 have much more exclusive rights to their Tuesday night Champions League match than they had before. This may cause some problems for Soccer fans but for TV3 it is a major part of its recovery.

While anorak broadcast industry watchers will enjoy this tête-à-tête between TV3 and UTV Ireland, the average viewer will follow the programme. The introduction of UTV Ireland has failed to increase audience figures for viewers watching national broadcasters. The 7 Irish channels only maintain a 45% share of the audience, with around 30% watching channels selling Irish advertising. With these kind of results UTV Ireland's aim to become the most watched TV channel is pure fantasy land and their schedule has shown that they, like their competitors, really don't understand the Irish audience’s appetite for quality home produce programming, quality English and American programming, along with Irish versions of lifestyle and reality TV.

7 Irish channels are RTÉ ONE, RTÉ2, TV3, TG4, 3e, UTV Ireland and RTÉjr/RTÉ ONE+1 (as one channel they share space).