26 January 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Interview: Fintan Maguire On The International Appeal of TV3 Content
01 Oct 2012 : By Steve Cummins
Fintan Maguire
Fintan Maguire is the head of TV3 productions and runs a production unit that makes a broad range of primetime programmes and series for Ireland's leading commercial national channel.

What’s the most recent TV3 show you’ve sold internationally?
Temple St Children’s Hospital to Discovery UK.

How did you get to your current position with TV3?
I was commissioning editor within TV3 and when we started TV3 productions the department naturally came under my remit.

How in-demand is Irish-made content at international markets?
There is a huge amount of channels worldwide and they have lots of slots and hours to fill, content is always in demand and TV3 make high quality programmes that have a broad appeal, this type of content is attractive to channels worldwide. So far TV3 Productions have sold programmes to 31 countries.

What is the most positive and negative thing international buyers have had to say about Irish content?
The positive is that they believe TV3 Productions make high quality programmes like ‘24 Hours To Kill’, and because of that we’ve become a preferred supplier for some networks. The negative is when the programme content is “too Irish” for international audiences, like an investigation programme on Irish Beggars for example (it’s a topic that is just not relevant to an Australian audience).

What’s been your easiest show to sell internationally?
Not too sure about easiest but the more wide selling programme that we have made was ‘Bullied to Death: The Phoebe Prince Story’. I think because the issue at the heart of the story was about teenage bullying, the programme had broad universal appeal. It’s a topic that teenagers are and parents are facing all over the world so it was relevant in a lot of countries.

Do deals generally get done at event such as MIPCOM?
MIPCOM is when our international distribution agent (DRG) showcase all of our new programmes and formats. Usually the deals are done after MIPCOM when buyers have had a chance to review some programme screeners.

What types of shows sell well, & in what territories?
Our biggest selling shows tend to feature animals and pets, they do well in all territories. I guess it’s because animals are universally loved. For us it has been ‘Animal A&E’, ‘Ireland’s Pampered Pets’, and ‘The Zoo’.

What kind of cut does the production company get out of a sale?
It can vary on the distributor and deal, somewhere between 60-80 per cent.

Are Irish-developed TV formats performing well in terms of sales?
TV3 Productions are releasing our first format this year at MIP, ‘Battle of the Bridesmaids’, so fingers crossed!

Has there been any Irish show that has sold so well, it surprised you?
We sold Strictly Irish Dancing to TLC in the states, the sale didn’t surprise me because it was a great programme and featured an American troupe travelling to Ireland to dance, but the amount of money that the US pay for content did surprise me. It certainly is a lucrative market that every producer wants to tap into.

What current trends can you spot in terms of sales?
The world recession has hit everyone and broadcasters are much more risk averse, most broadcasters are trying to avoid bad ratings now more than ever!! So anything that is tried or tested and has done well in another country can be sought after. If a programme or format has already proved itself then the chance of it failing is reduced!!

How closely to you work with commissioning editors in terms of working out what might sell internationally and what might not?
I work very closely with Ben Frow, TV3’s director of programmes and DRG (our international sales agent) to decide what is the best way to approach an idea, we may tweak and change it to make it more appealing to international buyers. But our priority is still the Irish audience. It must be a success for TV3 in the first place.

One thing buyers should know about you is…
TV3 is the second most watched channel in Ireland, so the quality of our content is high and very worth checking out! www.drg.tv

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