First of all offering 3e as a bargaining chip is like a man at a poker table offering a fake rolex to stay in a game. The only advantage it has is it's high Epg number. It's offers almost nothing that anyone would want to watch that isn't available elsewhere to the SKY viewer with a much better picture. The only show I can think of that it has is the UFC fighting highlights and nearly everyone who wants to watch that will have done so by the time they pop up on 3e.
As for tuning in ITV on SKY boxes. It would be the very odd household that hasn't done this. When they sell you a SKY box the salespeople point out how to get the various channels from ITV and Channel 5 on other Channels. I've a friend who for a long time used to spend his weekends tuning in the various channels to the other channels for older people. That has come to a stop as everyone now has them on Other Channels. UTV Ireland and TV3 were losing a large amount of viewers to ITV every day in Saorview Households because as soon as the Soaps or Xfactor came on, those households would switch straight over to ITV, either on their Skybox, or on a freesat system or on Freeview if they were within range. The picture on Saorview is shocking when it comes to the TV3 stations. (and TG4)
Obviously This isn't the case when it comes to Virgin Cable viewers, but that's another story entirely. They're having a great 12 months
There's plenty of popular content on 3e and be3, much more than on a niche channel like Sky Atlantic.
There've got Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, Wentworth Prison, Ninja Warrior, Celebrity Juice, Midsomer Murders, Loose Women, Doc Martin, Endeavour, Grantchester, Benidorm, The Xtra Factor, Get Me Out of Here Now and Britain’s Got More Talent on them.
The idea that the vast majority of Sky viewers will watch these ITV and Channel 5 programmes via Other Channels rather than on TV3/3e/be3 is nonsense, they can't even record them that way!
Sky viewers will soon realise that Virgin Media's customers are getting 3e and be3 in HD and they aren't, and will be complaining to Sky. That's exactly what Virgin Media wants.
Be3 we will have to wait and see as it's obviously still not fully formed. For example showing the chase tonight when it was never scheduled. However, 3e isn't popular. It's all repeats most of the time. When it had no Saorview Carriage it usually had around 1% of Market Share. Once it went on Saorview it increased to between 2 and 3 percent.
Now to be fair it does make a profit for TV3 group (unlike the main station which lost 17 million last year) But it's not a draw to those on satellite. About 60-65% of Households in Ireland have Satellite, either via Sky or freesat. This is not a new development. Most of them have been using other channels and watching HD ITV and other stations for years. That's not going to change, it didn't when UTV Ireland appeared only on SD on Saorview. Even if 3e and be3 appeared on HD SKY in the morning, they're still not showing a lot of ITV shows at the same time. People aren't going to wait a few weeks when their show is on ITV now.
Not been able to record is a pain for those with SKY but there are other ways to get shows they've missed with a high quality picture.
Sky viewers won't be complaining. In fact it's the other way around Virgin viewers complaining about a lack of eir sports, BT sports and now today UTV not being available again because they can't watch Good Morning Britain and Lorraine.
It clearly isn't true that all Sky customers watch ITV and Channel 5 shows via Other Channels rather than on TV3/3e/be3 otherwise there wouldn't be so many of them complaining about the loss of UTV Ireland, their disappointment about a losing UTV Ireland HD and not getting be3 HD, not being able to watch Good Morning Britain and Lorraine, not being able to watch Celebrity Big Brother in HD and so on. So many people timeshift their viewing these days, recording shows and watching them a little bit later so that they can skip the adverts, which isn't possible via Other Channels.