RTÉ’s new digital strategy revealed – new Player in works

21 May 2012

Muirne Laffan, managing director, RTÉ Digital

Siliconrepublic.com got a first look at RTÉ’s new digital strategy that will see every facet of Ireland’s national broadcaster utilised for digital products. On the way is a new-look RTÉ Player and a RTÉ Shop for buying digital content.

RTÉ said digital will transcend every aspect of the broadcaster’s culture and a new RTÉ Digital division has been formed to create new digital platforms.

RTÉ digital managing director Muirne Laffan told Siliconrepublic.com that the key will be to nurture existing digital products like the RTÉ Player, RTÉ News Now and the RTÉ.ie website, as well as getting the rest of the organisation from news and current affairs to drama to contribute to new platforms.

She said the key will also be making sure RTÉ is available on every device, from Apple TV to PlayStation 3, smartphones like the iPhone and Android, as well as the new swathe of connected TVs coming on the market.

Key priorities include social media, and a new e-commerce and merchandising strategy to grow revenue.

Areas of opportunity, Laffan explained, include on-demand services and providing public access to the wealth of video and audio archives.

“The RTÉ Player is three years old in April and went international three years ago. Since then it has arrived on smartphones and tablet computers.

“But the first generation of the Player was catch-up, the next generation will be about providing a new big-screen experience on any device.”

In a glimpse at the new Player that’s in the works and due to be released soon, it’s obvious RTÉ intends to build a community around its digital products as well as exploit social media to broaden its reach.

For example, users will be able to see what programmes their friends have also viewed.

Laffan said RTÉ’s development process has evolved to keep up with new platforms by building products, getting them to beta as quickly as possible.

“It’s about keeping up with demand and being more scalable so our pipeline of development has to run parallel to our work as a broadcaster.”

Laffan revealed that 50pc of the broadcaster’s digital traffic is via mobile and that there have been 600,000 downloads to date of RTÉ News Now.

Channel approach

Laffan added that the broadcaster’s web strategy is evolving to include a channel approach that will see hubs emerge around sport, lifestyle, food, fashion and travel, for example.

“Community building will be very important and we’ll introduce membership to allow people to feel part of a community they are interested in.”

Every division of RTÉ will have a group of digital champions who will liaise with the RTÉ Digital division to best serve each division’s work through a digital lens, as well as devise new products and capture opportunities as they arise.

“It’s about cross-division leadership. All Irish media organisations are challenged by the competition from large global players. The challenge is to be every bit as good as the global players.”

She said RTÉ’s international audience, at 1.8m unique overseas visitors per month, is about a quarter of its visitor base and this presents a great opportunity to build commercial revenue.

“Online ads and pay TV aren’t the only growth areas in commercial media. Smart devices are where the action is and there’s a huge video-on-demand opportunity for us.

“The key thing is to create a consistent experience across RTÉ and we have integrated digital editorial across the organisation. For example, the RTÉ News Now team is now part of the newsroom. Our entertainment and lifestyle teams are responsible for entertainment for RTÉ television.”

Laffan defined the new culture she hopes RTÉ Digital will bring as creative, and cited TV50 as one of the first projects to emerge out of the new RTÉ Digital team.

Her target is to make digital products a viable commercial entity for the broadcaster through licensing, revenue share and video-on-demand services.

“Digital products and services will be 15pc of RTÉ’s commercial revenue by 2015,” Laffan said. “Social media integration, smart devices and communities engaging in digitally optimised content will be at the heart of it.”

How RTÉ Digital will be organised

  • Strategic Platforms and Distribution, responsible for the extension of RTÉ’s services to new devices and platforms, as well as digital distribution, licensing and content syndication.
  • Content and Products, leading RTÉ Digital’s creative strategy and the channel management of brands such as RTÉ.ie, RTÉ Player and RTÉ News Now, as well as opening up access to the wealth of content in its libraries and archives.
  • Production and Operations, the technological powerhouse of RTÉ Digital, responsible for innovation, design, development of apps, services and platforms to support RTÉ’s digital infrastructure.
  • Digital Marketing, focused on audience insight and engagement across RTÉ and its digital products, brand strategy for RTÉ’s digital brands and services and marketing communications.
  • Commercial, responsible for the advertising monetisation and commercial strategy for RTÉ’s on-demand platforms.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years