RTÉ chief sets sights on boosting export sales to help make ends meet at home
INTERVIEW:Killane to appoint controllers to RTÉ One and RTÉ Two to promote the brands
Glen Killane, managing director of RTÉ Television, is fresh from the farm – RTÉ’s Format Farm.
On Wednesday, about 160 representatives of production companies, funding partners and international distributors gathered in Studio 4, where the Late Late Show is filmed, to collectively dream up the next Come Dine With Me.
The dinner-party-for-perfectionists franchise has made hundreds of millions in global format sales for its creator, ITV Studios, and RTÉ would dearly like to mimic this success.
The broadcaster is still counting the value of overseas deals for its flagship drama Love/Hate, while weight-loss show Operation Transformation has been sold to Belgium and Holland. But there’s more money to be made, Killane believes.
“The ambition is to position Ireland as a leader in formats and I don’t see why we can’t. If Israel and Holland can do it, so can we,” he says. Denmark boasts another enviable track record, having made a killing on The Killing.
Making drama in sufficient volumes to sell abroad isn’t easy for the cash-strapped Irish broadcaster, which was on track to record an estimated deficit of €57 million last year.
Drama is pulling in viewers at home, however. “It’s not just Love/Hate. Fair City has been having a whale of a time with the Doyle story, and audience shares have been 30-40 per cent. Raw’s audience is also way up on last year.”
Even with ratings success, the recommissioning of Raw is not a foregone conclusion.
“Our priority is to fund more Love/Hate. There’s definitely more legs in it, if they would only stop killing off everybody.”
There have, in the past, been “pressures” on Love/Hate, “because we would save millions straight away if we axed it”.
A decision will be taken on Raw shortly, while six more episodes of Love/Hate have been commissioned. “To produce 20 episodes of a drama is just not within our scope, but maybe we could get to 10, if we had some co-production funding.”
Killane has told staff he will appoint channel controllers to RTÉ One and RTÉ Two. Controllers already exist for radio, while it is a management structure also favoured by the BBC, Sky and others. It seems a “counterintuitive move”, he admits, when some viewers, particularly younger ones and busy parents, opt to time-shift their watching via personal video recorders and catch-up players.
But marketing two complementary channel brands will also help stem the drift of viewers to the hundreds of channels that snatch 0.3 per cent of the market here or 0.5 per cent of the market there.