Thursday 17 January 2019

Irish TV 'is set to be wall-to-wall in the US by 2015'

Irish TV, the new channel dedicated the diaspora, is in talks with Time Warner and Comcast about expansion in the US.

Bosses at the Mayo-based station are hoping to widen the American market for their content.

"We're hoping that by January 2015 we'll be wall-to-wall in the States," co-founder Pierce O'Reilly told the Herald.

Irish TV chairman John Griffin, who is also the station's main backer, said that reaching an agreement with the two US companies could see the potential audience grow by tens of millions.


"I predict that Irish TV will be worth €100m in about two years' time," he said.

Irish TV, which focuses on producing local content that is aimed at Irish people living abroad, is already available in the US through the Public Broadcasting Service and has space on Sky and Freesat.

The company, which began broadcasting online last May, is also exploring expansion in China and has held discussions with a Chinese delegation who visited Dublin recently.

Mr O'Reilly, who founded the station with his wife Mairead Ni Mhaoilchiarain, said the Chinese visit was "surreal".

"A group of seven Chinese executives plus the vice-president of the Communist Party flew into Dublin to meet us and they gave us a big presentation of hand-crocheted lace from China," he said.

"They want to take the model that we have developed and replicate it in China and to also develop a relationship where we would share content."

Mr O'Reilly believes the secret to Irish TV's success is its local approach to content.

"We have three people based in every county, 20 in the office in Westport and an office in Manchester and London and it's all local content," he said.

"The guy who marks the GAA pitch every weekend is as important to us as a famous singer or actress.

"We're also in negotiations with RTE and UTV about content sharing to try to avoid duplicating material. We'd like the stations to help each other, we don't want to be a competitor."

The channel started with Mayo TV, which after two months had more than 2.5 million hits online. It was then rolled out on a 32 county and international basis.

"When we got on Sky we realised we had a huge international audience and we started covering events in Leeds, Manchester and all these small communities with large numbers of Irish expats," said Mr O'Reilly.


"Irish people are fascinated by what Johnny is doing in Birmingham or what Michael is doing in New York and that's why those programmes took off so much.

"Irish TV is a model that can work for every diaspora, so I know it's going to be a success."

New programmes on the channel include country star Lisa McHugh taking music legends such as Daniel O'Donnell and Nathan Carter out of their comfort zones to learn a new set of skills.

There is also Bear Grylls-style chef Paul Treyvaud cooking up a storm in the fields and mountains of Kerry.


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