When asked what’s new at ThreeNow, the local streamer simply says a lot. With its new FAST Channels, highly anticipated shows such as ‘Paddy Gower Has Issues’ and lots of new local content, ThreeNow is taking its services to the next level.
“Thinking back on the last 12 months we have probably done more work now than we have done in the last six years,” says Donna Gurney, Senior Director of Ad Sales, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ.
That’s not hard to believe considering the huge amount of growth in the volume of content that exists on ThreeNow. And this is driving a significant audience growth across OnDemand and live streaming.
“We started looking at increasing our content library last year and 2021 had around 40 percent more shows than the previous year. In H1 this year we have grown that again by 24 percent so we have got about 1500 titles on ThreeNow. In terms of episodes that’s about 300 percent growth.”
This, plus increased investment in content, and a marketing campaign featuring comedian Angella Dravid, has meant that ThreeNow has been experiencing a period of rapid growth.
Another key priority for the platform in 2023 will be around the User Experience, says Donna.
“We want to make sure that as we are driving people to ThreeNow, what they land on is a good experience and helps them to navigate the much deeper levels of content that we have available on the platform now.”
There are two key aspects of driving this growth. One is engagement across the existing user base, which Donna says has worked this year with a 69 percent increase in streams, and the second is acquiring new users.
Much anticipated reality television show Heartbreak Island, which launched earlier in the year, as well as the global Discovery documentaries that Warner Bros. Discovery has bought exclusively to ThreeNow have been very successful at bringing new people to the platform.
“In the last three months we have seen the average number of sign-ups grow by about 70 percent weekly.”
Heartbreak Island also acted as an interesting test case. For the first time the network wasn’t reliant on its ad revenue performance on ThreeNow as the show also aired in Australia and has been sold into multiple territories around the world via Warner Bros. Discovery. This meant there was less risk involved in creating local formats for local distributions.
“Heartbreak Island definitely brought in a younger audience and that was part of the plan,” says Donna.
With 20 percent of Heartbreak Island viewers new or returning to the platform, it did a great job of bringing in new users and reengaging lapsed viewers, she says.
“Off the back of Heartbreak Island we deliberately dropped Married At First Sight UK which is not airing on linear. It’s designed to bring that audience into another series that will keep them highly engaged.”
The network has also launched two new channels; Rush and Eden, which together make up 12 percent of the platform’s total viewing.
“We’ve been adding a lot of brand new exclusive-to-ThreeNow content which we have never had before. Around about 20 percent of our streams on ThreeNow are based on content that is only on ThreeNow and not on linear at all. All of that is coming to drive really great audience growth which is great for advertisers.”
A major development for ThreeNow in 2022 was the launch of new apps on Connected TVs making it easier than ever for audiences to access the wide array of content.
“It’s really important that ThreeNow can be wherever, whenever audiences want to access it,” says Donna.
“Around 65 percent of our viewing is done on Connected TVs and that is a really premium video screen for advertisers. Those apps are really important for how we continue to grow our user base.”
Another big event for ThreeNow has been the 2021 Rugby World Cup which was delayed a year due to Covid. As the free-to-air broadcast partner for Spark Sport, the platform experienced an increase of new sign ups that broke live streaming records almost weekly.
“One thing that’s become very clear to us this year is that live streaming is a really important part of the ThreeNow offering. While our overall streams are up 69 percent, our live streaming is up 230 percent so it really does sit alongside OnDemand of equal importance and it’s about offering users the best of both worlds.
This shows that audiences are still engaged with the traditional broadcast viewing experience that used to be linear – they are just accessing it in different ways.
Free Ad Supported Streaming Television Channels or FAST Channels will also be launching in 2023 and with this growth in live streaming, this “is another proof point that moving to FAST Channels is a really exciting space for us to be in,” says Donna.
“FAST Channels are similar to a linear broadcast feed except it sits only on a digital platform, so it’s a whole new emerging class of video streaming that’s really taken off globally.”
These channels are about curating content for audiences for that more “lean-back” experience that traditional linear televisions offers.
“This is a particularly exciting and unique opportunity because we do have the whole Warner Bros. Discovery catalogue at our disposal. Warner Bros. Discovery is one of the most prolific and premium content creators in the world and so to be able to mine that content library and create custom FAST channels for the New Zealand market is really exciting.”
As for the developments happening within the local streaming market this can only be a good thing for the television industry overall and for consumers she says.
“There’s more TV content than there has ever been before and I think we are seeing that shift from how it’s distributed from being content first and distribution second because the audience is accessing that content however they want.”
One challenge she predicts will continue to come up from an advertising perspective is shifting metrics away from linear audience and digital audience – to total TV viewing.
“To do that we need the measurement and the currency to support that. Every market around the world is grappling with this issue.”
To tackle this, the network is working with Nielsen on rolling out streaming metres across New Zealand that will measure Broadcaster Video-On-Demand (BVOD) viewing for the first time.
As for the changes happening with Netflix and Disney+, it doesn’t change anything Donna says.
“We will continue to focus on quality content, a great product for our audiences and delivering great results for our advertisers. And that’s something we have been doing for a very long time.”
What’s streaming on ThreeNow?
Paddy Gower Has Issues is the new home for factual content on Three and ThreeNow offering a fresh take on current affairs.
Newshub Live at 6pm, AM and The Project will continue to build the core news offerings.
More local content
Following on from a massive increase in local content in 2022, 2023 will see even more including The Traitors NZ, Blow Up hosted by Jaquie Brown, Couples Therapy NZ, TRACKED and many more.
More comedy such as Double Parked, Homebound 3.0 and Guy Mont Spelling Bee.
Dramas including Friends Like Her and Madame Mom.
The return of local favourites like 7 Days, David Lomas Investigates, The Block and Match Fit Season 3.
New shows such as Next Level Chef, Faking It, Celebs Go Dating: The Mansion, Singletown and more.
Returning favourites like The Real Housewives franchises, Million Dollar Listing, Below Deck, Married At First Sight Australia and USA, The Block Australia, Love It or List It Australia, The Graham Norton Show and many more.
This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.