One of New Zealand's perennial entertainment bugbears is the fact we have to wait a bit longer for our movies and TV shows than other markets. It certainly doesn't seem quite as bad as it once was, but, due to the big spoiler known as the internet, it's still bad enough to get Coro St fans riled up. And you don't want to see Coro St fans when they're angry. So, to try and remedy this national sense of FOMO (and perhaps limit the associated pirating), MediaWorks has unveiled a new sub-brand called Fast Four that trumpets the fact Kiwis will be able to watch some of their favourite shows on-air within a week of their world premiere.
Fresh from its win in the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards for the launch of Four last week, Four announced that it will be broadcasting new seasons of The Simpsons, Family Guy, New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Survivor and, swapping to the channel from TV3 this season, Glee, with the Fast Four logo attached. And MediaWorks publicist Rachel Lorimer says one of the interesting things about the initiative, which features a campaign from Special Group comparing New Zealand to America, is that it's "the first time anyone has branded fast-tracked TV in this way".
"Up until now TV has been presented in two forms: regular and live. There have been fast tracked shows in the past [like the X-factor], but we're the first to define 'within a week of the world premiere' as a category worth branding for our audience."
The ‘fastest’ show in the first batch is How I Met Your Mother, which Kiwi viewers will see a matter of hours after the American audience and Four's long term goal is to have as much of its American content fast-tracked as possible. Four will also mirror American broadcast patterns, so when American networks put a series on hiatus, as is routinely done to accommodate other programming, such as live sports coverage, MediaWorks will either take a break or run repeats from previous seasons until a new episode becomes available.
“We’re responding to a growing international trend to get audiences’ favourite shows to air as soon as possible after they go to air in the States,” says MediaWorks acting director of programming Mark Caulton, who's taken over from Kelly Martin. “Our audience is very connected to the global entertainment news and social media conversation and given Four's mandate is to surprise, delight and entertain, it makes absolute sense for this channel to lead the way when it comes to bringing Kiwis the freshest international content. The Fast Four initiative means viewers can be part of the international water cooler talk.”
The new logo will be used on-air and online to clearly differentiate new episodes of Fast Four shows, and the season and episode numbers will be given in programme guides, so that audiences are kept informed. Fast Four will also see episodes under its umbrella uploaded to the ondemand service at four.co.nz.