The Fall of UTV in Ireland

In 2001 UTV (proper) had a market share of 10% south of the border. In the 1990s it benefited great from Ray Burke's limits on RTÉ advertising. It was the de facto commercial Television service. In 2001 TV3 and RTÉ2 also had an audience share of 10% each. By 2014 on the announcement of UTV Ireland UTV (proper) had just 3% of the market. You can imagine why, when TV3 dropped Coronation Street, UTV saw this an opportunity to regain lost ground.

In the last year and a half on the air UTV Ireland achieved a 6% share of the audience, a 100% increase in audience share, with UTV (proper) retaining a 1% share.

Meanwhile TV3 has seen its audience share decrease by almost 30%. In the last year and a half TV3 has seen an audience share of 8%, compared to 11% in 2014.

Neither of these figures take into consideration the problems faced by all Irish TV Broadcaster. While the onslaught of the On Demand services continue, and none of the figures released by RTÉ or TV3 relating to their players show that they have a good market share in the On Demand sector, Irish broadcaster's are dealing with the onslaught of Opt-Out advertising from UK broadcasters, which account for at least 20% of the market, this compares to just 46% over the last year and a half for Irish TV services.

Its not that Irish broadcasters haven't had event programmes on their side. In the last 12 months TV3 and RTÉ2 have both had major sporting events. TV3 having just 8% of the market with coverage of both RWC2015 and Euros 2016, and RTÉ2's coverage of the Euros saw them with just a 7% share over the past 12 months. UTV Ireland kept a 6% share of the market. Even with the ITV soaps and major sporting events neither of the 3 channels wear able to come close to the 10% of the audience they previously attained.

Fragmentation of the TV broadcast audience is a major part of this lose of viewers from Irish TV broadcasters. That coupled with Irish TV broadcasters failure to provide alternative services of their own. So far TV3 has only provide 3e, while RTÉ have been limited in their ability to provide such alternative services.

UTV Ireland entered a market filled with fragmentation and failed to even provide a +1 service. You would think that ITV would have used UTV Ireland to cross promote the alternative suite of ITV channels, as they will do on UTV (proper).

A +1 channel wouldn't have saved UTV Ireland. TV3 blackened their new service over the last year and a half, helped by the Irish media. TV3 came out fighting according to former CEO David McRedmond who over saw the meltdown at TV3, first in 2006 with a ridiculous price paid for an Irish TV channel by Doughty Hanson (265 million euro) and finally sold to Virgin media for just 80 million.

The big winners are of course Virgin Media and ITV. Virgin Media have snapped up a failing TV channel while ITV have used their weakness to insure a further 10 year deal for ITV studio programming, meaning since 1978 ITV related programmes have found a home on at least one TV channel aimed at an Irish audience.