TVNZ’s rebrand of its On Demand service to TVNZ+ has cemented the platform as a fully-fledged streaming destination, offering both viewers and advertisers an unrivalled selection of content to get behind in a big way.
With a brand new name and a free content offering starting with more than 300 feature length movies, TVNZ+ has completely redefined the networks’ service to viewers. And this is just the beginning.
“It is no longer a catch up service and it hasn’t been for quite some time,” says Director of Content Cate Slater.
“It has been a streaming service in its own right, but this [rebrand] gave us the opportunity to change the perception of the service in the market. I think we’d all agree that it’s been successful in doing that.”
One of the main challenges faced when offering content such as movies on a streaming platform is being granted the rights by international studios. TVNZ has been working with its international distribution partners on increasing access to content via TVNZ+ (beyond catch-up) for many years now, with movies being the latest in the offering.
To ensure an ongoing supply of compelling international content, the network has partnered with some studios to become their provider in the New Zealand market where they could otherwise go direct to consumer, such as NBC Universal in the form of content for its Peacock service and Paramount with its Paramount+ offering, among others. This content is often behind a paywall in other markets, but these partnerships means their content is free and available to New Zealand viewers.
While the launch of TVNZ+ was exciting for TV fans, it also brought with it some lucrative opportunities for the trade market as this depth and breadth of content means more advertising opportunities, new audiences and audience segments.
“It was a really good opportunity for us to bring that into the trade market and to demonstrate just the scale of the platform and the audience opportunities within it,” Cate says.
Although there are a number of players in the local streaming market with varying levels of scale, TVNZ+ is “incredibly strong” and is second behind Netflix in the streaming services, she says.
However they are keeping a close eye on the competitive landscape, and have been planning for it for a number of years in terms of their strategy says Commercial Director Jodi O’Donnell.
“We’ve been very intentional around our premium video ad-lite strategy. Our audience is very much used to the environment of fantastic depth and breadth of content but the value exchange is that ad-lite model. We have been really intentional to keep that.”
And it seems to be working. The rebrand was a chance to reset the user experience on TVNZ+ and redefine what an ad-supported service could look like – intentionally trading off the increased inventory for the consumer experience because they knew they were competing with ad-free services.
In fact, Cate believes TVNZ+’s free ad-lite model will be comparable to other paid ad-lite models.
“In other markets that ad-lite model comes with a value because consumers either get the full ad loads for free content or they can pay to reduce the ad load. Locally, they’re already used to getting an ad-lite experience for free.”
One of the major differentiators between TVNZ+ and international players is the breadth and depth of content that has been specifically selected for the local market.
“We are really growing our original content slate for shows specifically made for TVNZ+,” Cate says.
“It’s the fifth year of this strategy of making really strong content specifically for a streaming audience. Kid Sister, Waiata Anthems etc. It’s a really broad local offering.
“TVNZ+ includes all of the content that we make for TVNZ broadly but then we can make content specifically for a streaming audience and specifically for a younger streaming audience as well to attract them to the service and complement the rest of the international content that we have.”
Over the past three years TVNZ has enjoyed significant growth across platforms, and Jodi says every time a new catalogue of content or an additional genre is released, user registration spikes.
“There are over a million people that are coming in every week to TVNZ+ so that’s a phenomenal scale. We have seen constant growth, particularly when we pick up certain titles that resonate with an audience that might not already be on our platform such as HALO… it’s such a significant piece of content that suddenly we had a huge explosion of registrations from males 18-34 to watch that content.”
Once they are on the platform there is the opportunity to serve them other content or make the discoverability as easy as possible for them to stay on it and watch other content Cate adds.
So what’s next for TVNZ+ in the near future? Much more growth apparently.
“We have got quite aggressive growth targets for TVNZ+. We have been growing at a phenomenal rate and we want to see that grow even further.
“We’ve got 1.1 million people who are coming in every week so we know we have got a really solid base to work from but we want to attract new users.”
In total the network has over two million users who have used the platform in the past 12 months which provides the network with the opportunity to connect with those who are more casual users of the service.
A strong focus here will be to target younger audiences who want to consume their content on a streaming platform rather than linear TV.
“Rather than targeting our content to them in the broadcast environment, we’re looking for those shows that drive viewership for younger audiences specifically on TVNZ+.”
More channels are also on the horizon as existing ones have played an important part in TVNZ+’s growth.
“You see TV audiences decline but what you don’t see is actually the incredible growth in how they are consuming our linear channels in the same way but in an online environment,” Cate adds.
“Channels play an important part in solving choice fatigue in a world where there is an explosion of content.”
To deal with this choice, TVNZ’s skilled programmers work to determine what people like to watch at different times of the day and week.
“Our viewers love a curated experience that deals with choice fatigue. We see an opportunity to extend that for digital first customers in terms of how we can offer them a curated experience and what kind of channels they might be interested in and looking at.”
As for how this will benefit advertisers, Jodi says TVNZ is working with thousands of Kiwi businesses to help them engage with their audiences.
“Data plays a big part in that, so thinking about how we can leverage, in a very secure way, the data that we have, but also the ability for us to allow advertisers more opportunities to be more personalised or targeted with their marketing is really important.”
What’s streaming on TVNZ+in 2023?
The nations “New Zealand-ness” will be in the spotlight with shows such as Passengers, Caged: Kai Kara-France as well as local versions of international formats such as The Dog House NZ and Grand Designs NZ.
Much loved reality shows will also grace the TVNZ+ screens with two seasons of Celebrity Treasure Island and a Fans vs Faves spinoff show, along with My Kitchen Rules NZ, Snack Masters NZ and many more tasty morsels.
Star studded US titles for 2023 include Tulsa King, Rabbit Hole, Bupkis and So help Me Todd to name but a few.
Highly anticipated shows such as Blankety Blank and David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet II will also make appearances as well as The Reunion, David Tennent’s Litvinenko and coming of age drama Tell Me Everything.
This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.