Eircom beefs up consumer content, reveals VoIP play

19 Nov 2007

Eircom is investing in bulking up local content available on its Eircom.net portal – ranging from local artists to user-generated material – after its own research reveals that half of Irish web users are mostly going to global sites like YouTube for their online content.

Speaking at a web conference this afternoon, the head of Eircom Online Dervilla Mullan said the company is relaunching the Eircom Music Store as well as including more local sports content that may be generated by punters as well as local media.

“We analysed our user base and when you look at what they were doing, half the people were going largely to global sites. When we spoke to our own customers, they say that local content isn’t being serviced online. So what we’re doing is bringing an Irish flavour to the internet. There’s an Irish scene that’s not catered for; we see that as an opportunity.”

Mullan said the revitalised Eircom.net site will include local GAA and schools rugby content. “We need to continue with that and provide content such as sport at a community level. We will be showing professionally broadcast content as well as getting local community stuff as well.

“The idea is that the user is in control. People are producing so much digital media so there will be no shortage of contributions. We want to pull that all together into an Irish community online.”

Mullan said the relaunched Eircom music store will include 50,000 local tracks, 35,000 ringtones and over 7,000 videos.

She revealed that the Eircom.net site is still one of the most visited in Ireland with over 1.2 million unique visitors every month. “Some 90pc of visitors come from within Ireland,” she said, adding that internet TV and video on demand are among the various propositions being evaluated that could be targeted at its own broadband base.

She also revealed that Eircom is on a drive to encourage more youth users of its Eircom.net service, where the profile is generally over 35s and 65pc of the user base is female.

“The music site is a way of reaching out to younger groups. Traditionally customers would be people with families.”

Eircom consumer director Gerry Culligan, responding to the perceived threat of voice over IP (VoIP) service providers like Skype, said to date the service has had very little impact and revealed that Eircom last month launched its own international Broadband Talk VoIP service to broadband customers.

“We are trialling the service but it’s very niche at the moment,” Culligan said.

He said the operator is keen to wade into the interactive TV market. “People will want to pick and choose when they want to see the news. Other possibilities include catch-up TV where they can watch the highlights of a game after the event, choose a movie, or if they want to have multi-room TV and surf the internet at the same time.

“We are rolling this out in accordance with the rollout of broadband infrastructure in Ireland,” Culligan added.

By John Kennedy