The race for convergence means hitherto distinct media entities are cutting each other's lunch. TV and radio stations now have their own news websites, while news sites are increasingly moving into TV's realm with video content. We wrote about it a few months back, and now the country's most popular news site is now officially available on the big screen, as Fairfax Digital launches its Stuff IPTV Channel on Sony Internet TVs (smart TVs).
Smart TVs allow you to watch internet videos on HD or even 3D, check Facebook, and make video calls via Skype. Sony currently offers over 20 channels including Wiggle Time TV, YouTube, Ziln, Golflink, and Wired.
The Stuff Channel on Sony Internet Television extends the video content developed by Fairfax’s journalists around the country right onto internet-enabled TVs. Nigel Tutt, general manager of Fairfax Digital, says that the extension of stuff.co.nz onto the television screen is a no-brainer. “Last year we had on average over one million video views per month on stuff.co.nz. Our customers have a great appetite for video with their news, and as internet-enabled TVs become more prevalent, the ability to access quality local and international content right in their living rooms will be attractive. He points out more and more consumers are scanning news on their mobiles as well as the internet, and Fairfax is all for this multi-screen usage.
“Extending to the television screen is the next step in our strategy of providing our customers the news and information they want in the medium to suit each moment of their day. While the print medium is still of crucial importance, we have seen significant growth in our customers accessing our content on a variety of screens – from smartphones to computers to tablets, and now televisions.”
The chief executive of TUANZ, Paul Brislen agrees that IPTV is a no-brainer and a service set only to grow. "IPTV is not a future technology. With more than 100,000 internet-enabled TVs in homes across the country already, and all the major manufacturers now selling IPTV sets, easily accessible online content is in easy reach, and will be the game changer in driving TV on demand – it puts the power back in the hands of the viewer.”
Matt Walton-Smith, general manager of channel and product marketing at Sony New Zealand, welcomes Fairfax Digital to Sony’s growing range of channels. “Fairfax Digital has embraced the possibility of what IPTV can provide, enabling New Zealanders to watch local and international news videos from Stuff, whenever they want it.”
Competition from all angles
In a move sure to send chills up the spines of major broadcasters, Fairfax has also signed on the dotted line with ABC as part of its IPTV. This allows Fairfax access to ABC’s long play content, striking a painful blow to major broadcasters. Nigel Tutt expects television viewing to continue to converge onto multiple platforms.
“Fairfax is very well placed right now. It has the advantage of already having an audience to deliver video to, and we are planning to expand the amount content we deliver. We have the advantage of no time restraints. We can publish what the audience want, when they want it. We don’t have to wait ‘til 6pm,” he says.
Operating since September 2009, online television network Ziln beat Fairfax to the IPTV punch. Anyone can set up a channel on it, it is free to access for those with broadband and it hosts 25 niche channels of Kiwi-only content including docos, comedy, and fishing shows. Ziln also recently signed a major deal with Sony securing its availability on all Sony internet capable televisions (smart TVs), which effectively moves PC-based internet channels to the big screen lounge television. And, as Manning says, it has never been easier or cheaper to make your own TV shows and it is no longer the preserve of big companies.