When TVNZ nabbed the rights to Australian soap Home and Away from MediaWorks early last month, it had to find a way to let people know that Alf Stewart’s stalwart old mug would be switching channels.
So TV2 enlisted the cast of the show, and ran a campaign full of promotional videos, images and Facebook posts.
TV2 brand manager Gary Mulholland, who coincidentally moved over to TVNZ from Mediaworks shortly before TV2 poached the show rights, says there has been a little bit of confusion as to why the show made the move. Most have embraced the change, however.
“A lot of viewers are really excited in other ways you can view it on now, like on their iPhone,” he says.
TVNZ’s Android app is also due to launch on Samsung Galaxy devices this Friday.
Mulholland says there was some concern about TV2’s lack of a ‘plus one’ channel, but TV2+1 will launch in September after the closure of TVNZU.
The campaign features a 45-second promo video that showcases the melodrama of the show.
“The fans are really passionate … so you kind of just give them what they want. A lot of viewers are really into the brothers, Braxton and Heath and all of that. They just want to see the pretty people onscreen,” says Mulholland.
“And people also have a real soft spot for Irene and Alf.”
Irene and Alf are two of the show’s longest-running characters. One promotional video shows Irene singing the Home and Away theme song, for which she’s not going to be winning any prizes.
“Whether people liked the singing or didn’t like it, they still appreciated the spot,” says Mulholland.
The show has joined TV2’s stable of weeknight soap operas, screening at 5:30pm. TV2 still holds the rights to longtime Home and Away competitor Neighbours, which it screens at 6:30pm.
Home and Away first screened on TV2 on 19 August and around 352,700 people tuned in, according to Nielsen. That’s a 30% audience share.
Mulholland says the ratings were "positive", and that TV2 has received a positive reaction in general. He points to the quick growth of its TV2 Home and Away Facebook page, which has over 12,000 'likes'.
"It was a little bit of a challenge to market the show while it was still on a competing channel, but Home and Away viewers were aware of the switch, and hopefully the campaign has picked up some new viewers along the way," he says.
The first screening on TV2 garnered higher ratings for the show than TV3 did in the week before it was announced that TVNZ had nabbed the rights.