From The Examiner June 9th 2022.
RTÉ earned almost €5m in advertising revenue from its streaming player in 2020, despite the State broadcaster previously admitting it would likely cost “several million” in investment to bring it into line with international best standards.
The RTÉ Player, whose poor performance has been repeatedly criticised by users and Oireachtas members, earned €4.945m from spot advertising over that 12-month period, RTÉ’s head of public affairs Vivienne Flood revealed.
Ms Flood told the Public Accounts Committee that income represents “a small proportion” of RTÉ’s overall commercial earnings of €134.5m that year.
Critics of the RTÉ Player point to the fact they must sit through a minimum of 100 seconds featuring four commercials prior to the main programme, with the same ad-reel often repeating itself should the stream fail for whatever reason, a particular issue with live sporting events.
A series of emails to RTÉ, released under Freedom of Information at the end of last year, saw users complain about the service stalling, crashing or not working at all, as well as ads looping instead of the programme itself playing, and branding the Player a “frustrating” service.
In an update to PAC, Ms Flood said the “duration and incidence of advertising inserts on the RTÉ Player is partially dependent on the length of each individual piece of content being carried on the platform”.
She said some content, if it is especially short in duration, “may not feature any advertisements at all”.
“Longer programmes may feature a level of advertising not dissimilar to that which would have appeared had it been within a television broadcasting schedule,” she said.
Difficulties with the Player were raised on two separate occasions when RTÉ representatives appeared before an Oireachtas committee in January of this year, with TDs highlighting its perceived unreliability, especially in terms of live events with large audiences
Ms Flood had previously informed the PAC that an investment of several million euro as a “minimal requirement” would be necessary in order to bring the player up to international best standard.
In February Ms Flood said that “further evolution” of the player would necessitate the acquisition of “additional specialist skills which will require increased operating expenditure”.
She said in order to put a precise figure on how much would be needed, “further product technical scoping and benchmarking” would be necessary.
A spokesperson for RTÉ today told the: “While RTÉ continues to invest in new RTÉ Player content every week, including the streaming of a high volume of live sport, we continue to review ways in which we can increase investment in the RTÉ Player and further improve the experience for our audiences.”