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Don’t Change the Channel: What Makes TVNZ New Zealand’s Media Business of Choice

An exclusive chat with Jodi O’Donnell, Commercial Director at TVNZ, on why the broadcaster is the media business of choice for most Kiwis, how the challenge of Covid-19 has effected this and what she’s doing to better engage marketers.

Jodi O’Donnell
Jodi O’Donnell, Commercial Director at TVNZ.

You’ve recently celebrated your 20th anniversary at TVNZ. What hasn’t changed?

I’ve spent most of the past 20 years at TVNZ in a range of roles. What hasn’t changed is TVNZ’s focus on entertaining New Zealand audiences on a mass scale. It’s how we’ve gone about doing that that’s changed over the course of my career. From building TVNZ OnDemand into an entertainment destination to moving back into the free-to-air sports space, putting viewers at the centre of our decision making has meant we’ve earned the right to continue to be part of daily life in Aotearoa – and that’s what I love about working at TVNZ.

Is there one career highlight that stands out?

The Rugby World Cup 2019. Working in partnership with Spark Sport to bring the RWC back to free to air in New Zealand has a pretty special place in my heart. Announcing the partnership and then our commercial team selling out all inventory inside the 48 games within 24 hours was outstanding.

Why do you think TVNZ is such a well-respected media brand?

Audience trust is a big part of it and that’s something we’ve built over many years. The Covid-19 lockdown saw huge audiences turn to TVNZ for the 1pm daily updates and the 6pm evening news for example. The trust we’ve built with our viewers was at the heart of why they turned to TVNZ in those moments. Viewers rely on us to keep them informed and to bring them content that matters. We feel a great sense of responsibility to deliver to a high standard.

What does winning the Media Business of the Year at this year’s Beacon Awards mean to you and your team?

Winning Media Business of the Year is huge for us. It’s a recognition of all the hard work the entire TVNZ team has delivered over the last 12 months. With Covid-19 impacting so many New Zealand businesses, including our own, this past year’s effort takes on new meaning. I’m incredibly proud of this result.

How do you and your team actively work towards maintaining and improving TVZN’s brand image?

Listening to our viewers plays an important role. We typically engage with 2 million New Zealanders per day, and they provide feedback on our performance via TV ratings, online streaming numbers, and direct messages on social media and email. Continual engagement and using this feedback to inform future decisions is integral to what we do. I also love just talking to people whenever I have the opportunity: whether I’m in a taxi or meet someone for the first time, I am always curious to know what they watch, how they watch it and why they watch it.

Like many media businesses, TVNZ has not escaped the effects of Covid-19. In the face of redundancies, how do you continue to grow your brand?

It’s a challenging time for all media organisations right now. We’ve had to adjust the way we operate to catch up from the impact of Lockdown. But, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to informing and entertaining our viewers and listening to our advertising partners, so we always know what is important to them.

Are we yet to see the worst of the Covid-19 impact on media businesses in NZ?

It’s an uncertain time, we only need to look to colleagues around the world still grappling with lockdown measures to know how fortunate we are. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The TVNZ Commercial team are committed to working with our clients on a very individual basis to tailor what will work for them and really understand their needs in an ever-changing time.

Yes, TVNZ has unrivalled audience numbers, but marketers have increasingly less money – what are you doing to facilitate greater synergy between the two?

We know that it’s important to retain brand position and visibility with customers. We’re also conscious that everyone’s ability to do this is challenged. We’re pricing for this accordingly and working on bespoke solutions to help our clients and partners achieve their goals. We’re also leveraging our incredible in-house talent and our creative capabilities to achieve end-to-end solutions where possible that fit customers’ needs big and small.

What are some of the exciting projects TVNZ is currently working on that will see it retain its Media Business of the Year title into 2021?

We’re excited about continued ad innovation on TVNZ OnDemand. Digital Ad Insertion launched earlier this year allowing targeting and personalisation options on the livestream of TVNZ 1, 2 and DUKE. Interactive Connected TV advertising is coming soon too giving our advertisers the opportunity to increase engagement and time spent with their brand. We’ve got huge TV moments in the back half of 2020 with a General Election and The America’s Cup – more than enough to keep us busy.

TVNZ is the Premier Sponsor of the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards. For more information on the Awards, click here.

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About Bernadette Basagre

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email [email protected].

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