UTV Ireland launched on New Years Day, the first commercial terrestrial TV broadcaster to do so in the country since TV3 aired in 1998. Viewing figures on its official launch night did not mark a great start: only 73,000 people watched Out with the Old and in the U – which saw famous faces and people from around the country looking forward to 2015 – on 1 January. In comparison, the Nine O’Clock news on RTE One drew 572,400 viewers on the same evening.
Much of UTV Ireland’s programming will be courtesy of ITV, which has an output deal with the new broadcaster for some of its most popular shows, including Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Jeremy KyleShow.
UTV Ireland’s 6:30pm news bulletin, Ireland Live, debuted yesterday, fronted by sole anchor Alison Comyn. Reception of the programme was mixed with the Irish Times commenting that the show represented a ‘solid start’, with ‘interesting’ and ‘well executed’ reports. Irish news site Herald.ie however, criticised the bulletin as ‘deathly dull’ with rival RTE’s news show ‘still the one to beat.’ UTV bosses aim to replace TV3 as the main rival to RTE, it has been reported.
TV3 has long been Ireland’s only other main commercial terrestrial TV broadcaster and will be increasing its locally-produced content as a response to UTV Ireland’s launch.
Viewers may take a time to warm to the new broadcaster, but its launch will have at least had a positive effect on the country’s economy: after announcing it was setting up an Irish arm in 2013, the new station has created more than 100 jobs, has built studios in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.