NZME is promising five hours of uninterrupted election coverage across the NZ Herald, Newstalk ZB and iHeartRadio as it counts down to the final election result.
The coverage will include live video shot in the NZME newsroom, with Heather du Plessis-Allan and Tristram Clayton serving as anchors and Fran O’Sullivan, Vernon Tava, Jennifer Curtin and Barry Soper sharing their thoughts as panellists.
NZME managing editor Shayne Currie is calling it the most ambitious digital coverage of any event in the history of the company.
"There has never been anything comparable to the scale of what NZME is going to deliver digitally to New Zealanders on Saturday night,” Currie says.
“We’ll deliver the results in depth, as they happen. Every vote, every electorate, every polling booth.”
Television companies have, of course, dedicated extended slots to the election for some time, blacking out the schedule and covering the results as they come in. During the previous election, MediaWorks even took this a step further by serving the results through dynamic digital billboards, which were updated as the votes were counted.
The real story here is not that NZME is dedicating so much of its resources to the election coverage, but rather that it's stepping into a space that has previously been dominated by the television broadcasters. If anything, NZME is now offering viewers an alternative to the video content they might find on the television.
NZME has, of course, invested heavily on video in recent years and it's an approach that seems to be working, particularly in regard to NZ Herald Focus, which provides sporadic updates on news events throughout the day. This has essentially become NZME's interpretation of what a modern news bulletin should look like.
Having honed its video skills over the last 12 months, NZME now clearly feels confident enough to take on the television broadcasters. And this is a battle that the company's head of video, Cameron Death, isn't shying away from.
“This is the future – people don’t want to be glued to a television, they want to be able to continue their lives but be able to tune in via their preferred digital device to watch and listen to coverage of such a significant event in New Zealand’s history," Death says.
“The NZME newsroom, where the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB operate from, is purpose-built, to allow for multiple reporters to interact with Kiwi personalities, business leaders and politicians, who will gather at NZME Central to watch the results come in, as well as incorporating panel discussions, in-depth interviews, analysis and live crosses.”
As the debate ratings indicated, there are still many New Zealanders happy to be glued to the television when they deem the content interesting enough. The difference now is that there's another choice for viewers in the media mix.
NZME’s Election Night Live coverage kicks off at 7pm on 23 September.