Teen NBC shows City Guys, USA High, Malibu and One World (plus TNBC’s music show) debuted this summer in Ireland, thanks to a pick-up made by Michael Murphy, director of programming at commercial channel TV3. According to Murphy, who has been at the channel since its launch 16 months ago, targeting teens has become a key strategy in kids, thanks to the 65% overspill of U.K. channels into Ireland (which means Irish kids programmers, including TV3 competitor RTE, have to compete with Nick UK, Cartoon Network UK and the BBC). ‘Sixty percent of our target viewers from 15 to 44 do not watch Irish TV outside of news and current affairs,’ he says. Murphy hopes to bring Irish viewers back and fill a programming niche by being the first regional outlet to target older kids and teens on weekend mornings.
The TNBC acquisitions comprise the last three hours of a total six-hour weekend block for older kids and teens, running from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m on both Saturday and Sunday. The TNBC series, all created by Peter Engels, run back-to-back from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sundays. Their placement in weekend morning time slots was also designed to avoid competition with RTE’s live-action tween/teen offerings Saved By the Bell and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which run in weekday slots around 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
After just two months, the move to target teens is working. ‘The TNBC shows are delivering ratings we haven’t [had before], by pulling in an audience that wasn’t being served,’ says Murphy. The teen series were added in June, and ratings have increased by about 20% since. The share increased from three in May `99 to four in June.
While live action is Murphy’s primary focus for acquisitions, animated pick-ups such as Daria (MTV) and Godzilla (Columbia TriStar) round out the teen slate. Going forward, Murphy will be looking for prebuys and co-pros, which will mark new initiatives for the Irish net. Nevertheless, straight acquisitions of teen-targeted live action fare will continue to dominate Murphy’s programming plan.
TV3 has a market share of 7% in prime time and 8% with the 15 to 44 demo. CanWest owns 45% of TV3, while Consortium controls 20%, and Allied Irish Bank Venture Capital 30%. Besides RTE 2 (a terrestrial with a majority kids share in Ireland), TV3′s main competition is Nickelodeon Cable Satellite, which dominates the nonterrestial kids audience.