tv3The reaction to TV3’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup 2015 so far has almost been unanimously negative. The stationwhich beat RTE to the rights to show the tournament in Ireland with a €3m bid, has been heavily criticised for its 11-minute long ad breaks at half time and as its subpar post-match analysis.

As a commercial broadcaster TV3 are legally entitled to run 12 minutes of adverts per hour in comparison to RTE who are only allowed carry 6 minutes per hour. This is a deliberate mechanism implemented by the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) to allow commercial stations such as TV3 and Setanta to break the monopoly that RTE has on Ireland as the national public service broadcaster.

Despite criticism, as a commercial station TV3 has fully committed to the Rugby World Cup and the investment that they’ve made. RTE broadcast 11 matches in 2011, while TV3 has broadcast 46 live games since the start of the tournament.

Although it’s likely the company won’t make a major profit on the tournament, with advertising prices falling dramatically after Ireland’s exit, they have at least covered their costs. On average 36% more individuals (aged 4+) watched the Irish rugby team beat France 24 – 9 at the Millennium stadium on TV3 than watched the Irish football team’s defeat in Warsaw on RTE2. TV3’s coverage averaged 1.15m viewers for the duration of the game, peaking at 1.43m viewers. In comparison, 845k viewers on average tuned into RTE’s coverage of the Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland, reaching a peak of 1.18m viewers at the end of the game.

To put that into advertising context; halftime and solus ads for the Ireland vs France game alone generated an estimated €607k in revenue for TV3 – the most of any match so far in the tournament. Ireland vs Argentina generated an estimated €592k for the same time slots. This equates to an average of €780 per halftime or solus minute for Ireland’s last two crucial games. Despite an average decrease by 59k viewers (5%) for Ireland’s disappointing game against Argentina, an average of 1.09m viewers still tuned in to the match, which peaked at 1.27m just before the last Argentinian try.

Live access and VOD (Video-On-Demand) to TV3’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup have cost the consumer virtually nothing. A 10 minute rant by George Hook is a price I’m willing to pay to access all of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

  • By Adam Hetherington, Business Editor