With the talk of cheaper ad supported subscription services among international players, Neon is keeping a close eye on the developments. Fiona Murray, Head of Entertainment Streaming at the local operator gives details on what’s new for the platform, how it’s adjusting to competition and the ever changing streaming environment.
It’s been a big year for Neon with the launch of the highly-anticipated HBO series House of the Dragon, a prequel to Game of Thrones, its biggest series to date, plus new seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, The White Lotus, Gangs of London, and Yellowstone all dropping before Christmas.
“Our subscribers are loving it,” says Fiona Murray, Head of Entertainment Streaming at Neon.
A New Zealand owned and operated platform, Neon has been in the streaming game since 2015 and is operating a subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) service.
Fiona says the changing streaming landscape isn’t effecting the way Neon runs and the news of Netflix launching a ad-based subscription service won’t change much for the service.
“As you can expect, we watch our competitors closely, but our focus is on continuing to secure the best premium drama for our viewers… despite changes over the years, we will continue to deliver premium content to the market.”
However this year Neon has increased its Standard Plan to $17.99 per month and introduced a cheaper option called the Basic Plan which Fiona says is in recognition of the strain households are feeling as the cost of living rises.
This cheaper plan costs $12.99 per month and allows one screen, two profiles and a slightly lower resolution than the standard and Annual Plans but with the same access to the entire TV and movie catalogue.
“A tighter economy means households are more discerning about how and where they spend their money, so offering flexibility and choice with options like our Basic and Annual Plans is essential,” Fiona says.
While Netflix has stated the reason for its move to an ad-supported subscription plan is due to plummeting subscriptions Fiona says Neon’s subscriber numbers have only been growing for the past 24 months.
“But we know that customers can move quickly between services based on the shows they want to watch,”
Like so many in this crowded market, for Neon, the biggest competition at the moment is
“Our challenge is consistently serving up content that our viewers have to watch. There are many ways to consume content, and we know that many households subscribe to multiple paid streaming services while also frequenting linear, free-to-air, and AVOD services.”
This is where being a local platform can work to Neon’s advantage as it is more in touch with its audience.
“Being a locally owned and operated service in Aotearoa means we can acquire and curate the series and movies that Kiwis want to watch,” Fiona says.
This includes having a specifically New Zealand category for viewers to choose from which includes a wide array of local content including NZ On Air funded documentaries such as The Black Ferns Wahine Toa, a documentary following the lives of the Black Ferns as they prepare for the Rugby World cup, and Matariki Explained, a documentary explaining the significance of this now nationally recognised celebration.
Of course it’s no secret that the way we are watching television is changing. No longer are families only sitting down together to watch linear television over dinner in the evenings. Now many households have multiple devices and are streaming their favourite shows on a combination of advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) and subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) services.
“We believe in giving customers the flexibility to choose how they want to consume content and know that many Neon subscribers also engage with ad-supported content elsewhere,” Fiona says.
“So while an ad-supported tier may be new for Netflix, it isn’t ‘new’ to the market, and we don’t
expect this Netflix package change will significantly impact the Neon audience.”
So what’s instore for the future of Neon? To continue to build and improve the customer experience
“We’re engaged with what our customers are asking for and monitoring what our competitors are doing. Our small local team is continually improving user experience across our apps, and evolving the platform based on what we learn from our customer and market research.”
Although they don’t advertise on Neon, the platform has some solid behind-the-scenes partnerships with international and Kiwi brands Fiona says. “Where there’s alignment between Neon and other brands, we’ll continue to leverage opportunities to deliver unique benefits and experiences to our customers.”
This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.