The rise in SVODs is quickly making audiences accustomed to paying for entertainment. However, not everything comes with a price tag. And stepping in to remind Kiwis this is Freeview, with its new ‘How good is free’ campaign by TVNZ Blacksand.
Featuring a 30-second video with a female lead listing off freebies, such as smelling flowers, random acts of kindness, hugs and compliments, the ad plays off the adage that the good things in life are free, according to Freeview marketing manager Bel Wang.
General manager Sam Irvine says it comes off the back of two pieces of research it conducted earlier this year, which shows TV is still extremely popular but also found the launch of FreeviewPlus caused some confusion about whether or not the service was free—which it is.
FreeviewPlus offers access to TVNZ On Demand, 3 Now and Maori Television On Demand through the TV, as well as the ability to record programmes and catch up on any from the previous eight days. Like Freeview, the channels include the TVNZ and MediaWorks range, Prime, Choice TV, Te Reo, The Shopping Channel, Shine, Chinese TV 8, the regional channels and many more. In Auckland, this equates to 31 channels in total, including radio.
‘How good is free’ is currently playing on Freeview TV stations, YouTube, TVNZ OnDemand and 3 Now, and will be supported by digital display ads, posters and a point-of-sale brochure, which was designed and printed by ICG and Tangible Media.
It’s the second campaign by Freeview this year, after it called in comedian Chris Parker to introduce FreeviewPlus and show that it’s still possible to have the convenience of the usual TV experience when viewing online content.
To do so, his character would pop up when people were streaming programmes from on demand sites on small portable devices in their lounge and in their bed. One StopPress commenter described the character as having "a curiously perfect blend of creepy friendly awkwardnes.”
Irvine says the campaign was targeting a younger audience, but it is trying to have a wider appeal with the new female lead—something both Irvine and Wang say the dog will be a great help with.
That wide appeal it hopes to have includes the 1.2 million New Zealand homes already watching Freeview, and Irvine says, it will serve as a message saying “good on you for having Freeview”.
And for those who don’t have Freeview, it will act as a reminder that Freeview and FreeviewPlus are free after the purchase of the set-top box. It will also encourage those who are watching Sky on their primary TV and Freeview on their secondary TV to make the switch to entirely free TV.
Approximately 50 percent of New Zealand homes watch TV for free solely with Freeview and don’t rely on any paid TV at all, while 20 percent of homes have a combination of Freeview and paid TV.
“By far most people are watching linear TV,” Irvine says. “And they are adding to it with other services.”
He says 30 to 40 percent of New Zealanders have an SVOD service, which, rather than being a competitor of Freeview, Wang sees as complementary.
With so many options vying for the audience’s eyes, questions naturally arise over the strength of TV's hold, but if the numbers aren’t enough to show its continuing relevance, Irvine points out the important role TV plays that no other service can.
The recent earthquakes and US election saw people tuning into TVNZ 1, TV3 and Aljazeera to watch the events unfold and get the latest information—all are Freeview channels, Irvine points out.
“It does have a role to play and it will always have some role to play, and it is up to us to recognise that viewers’ options are increasing and being able to offer those,” he says.
The recent events also come at a time when people are looking to reconsider their home entertainment options as Wang says the Christmas period sees a high number of households re-evaluate their entertainment options. This is despite TV being watched less over that period.
Irvine adds that consideration is influenced by Boxing Day, which is the biggest day for TV sales.
Freeview is coming up 10 years now, and it's continuing to experience growth as much as ever.
Irvine says this is the second “horizon” of growth since it started and it follows the 2013 digital switch. He says now people are revaluating their home entertainment options and Freeview's proposition gets better and it adds more services, like on demand through FreeviewPlus, it's a more compelling option.