It aims to put on good shows all year, and, with a selection of its stars wheeled in (including a performance from the biggest of them all, Billy's Big Brass Brand), a few branded ice sculptures (rumour has it new chief executive Kevin Kenrick fashioned them with his bare hands), lots of bass, some slick production and plenty of delicious things in spoons, TVNZ certainly put on a good one last night to launch its 2013 season.
Some singer who we've never heard of kicked the night off, and then Kenrick took to the stage for, as the self-proclaimed non-media man said, his first—and obviously best—new season launch ever. And he was sounding confident about the year ahead (the work he's been doing on TVNZ's new strategy is expected to be announced around Christmas).
"Online video consumption is growing dramatically all around the world. At the same time, in places like NZ, the US and the UK, TV viewership is at ten year highs," he says. "Why? Because people are engaging with video. Video makes connections and with brands the most important connection we can make is the emotional connection with consumers. In the future it will be less about what we say and do and how we make people feel. That is the power of video."
He says TVNZ connects with 2.5 million New Zealanders every day and 90 percent of New Zealand households every week. And in 2013, its plan "is to engage more New Zealanders than we ever have before with more compelling content, whether that's starting off with a refreshed line-up at breakfast, New Zealand's market leading news at 6pm each night, the rejuvenation of current affairs in a daily format at 7pm, an unparalleled selection of international content, or with the highest rating local programmes in New Zealand, starting with NZ's Got Talent, which is setting new records, MasterChef, Dream Home and Shortland St."
TV is going through an interesting evolution at the moment. Live event TV and dual screening is proving increasingly popular as viewers yearn to be part of the community, yet broadcasters also need to "expand accessibility and make content more available to more people". TVNZ's OnDemand platform was launched in 2007 and was thought to be the region's first foray into catch-up TV, but TVNZ is taking the next big step and and will launch the region's first OnDemand platform on Apple and Samsung phones and tablets in February next year and its Samsung Smart TV solution will be live before Christmas (we got a rundown on the new toys from TVNZ's general manager of digital media Tom Cotter, and we'll post the ins and outs of the new technology in a separate story).
Head of sales Jeremy O'Brien was next up and he focused on the ways TVNZ can help brands create conversations.
"At TVNZ, our ideas are our content. And that content creates more conversations with New Zealanders than any other media, whether it be the number one global trending topic on Twitter, as NZ's Got Talent achieved recently, or the most watched winter season of Shortland St in its 20 year history. And you, our clients, can too. Whether you're between the content, within the content, expanding the content or you are the content, we've got the audiences, the environment and the impact to get your brand noticed and most importantly sold. We all know that our audiences and your consumers are increasingly downloading, streaming, sharing and viewing video content across multiple platforms, increasingly simultaneously. And this has led to the emergence of TV and online as the killer combination for advertiser effectiveness. They're both great in their own right, but numerous studies, locally and internationally, have shown that they're even better together. So if you want to reach, educate, inform, entertain or convert, we've got the media solution for you."
While the vast majority of TVNZ's revenue still comes from selling good old fashioned TV slots, more progressive clients are seeking integration into shows as well as space between them, which is where its media solutions team comes in.
"This isn't a load of hype," O'Brien says. "We have a proven track record in integrated and effective communications and the past 12 months have been no exception. From toilet tissue to DIY to new cars, and pretty much everything inbetween, we've immersed ourselves in our clients' businesses and collaborated to get New Zealanders talking about your products and, more importantly, buying."
And there's more to come, he says.
"TVNZ has set aside $1 million for a new local branded content initiative. Essentially, we will match dollar for dollar up to $1 million for a mutually beneficial, co-developed proposition with an advertiser or advertisers."
The TVNZers we spoke with were fairly coy on what exactly the initiative would be, but it is sending out info to interested parties over the next couple of days.
We posted the most-watched shows of 2012 recently, and 95 percent of them had screened on TVNZ. So head of TV Jeff Latch seemed understandably pleased about 2012—and confident about next year's line up.
- Check out all the new and returning shows here.
"As you watch our showreels today I would ask that you reflect on three things. First, TVNZ is committed to being New Zealand's content leader. We lead in drama, we lead in news, we lead in factual, we lead in local and we lead in international programming. Second, to be successful in our business you need hit shows and depth in local and international programming. We have both. And thirdly, TVNZ is about you, our clients. We understand how important it is that we secure the content that creates opportunities for you to have the right conversations with New Zealanders."
While TV3 won most of the big news and current affairs awards at the recent Television Awards, TV One and TV2 won 15 of the 15 drama awards on offer.
"This was no accident," he says. "This shows the care and attention we place on developing drama in conjunction with our local production partners. Our leading local dramas will be back next year and we look forward to celebrating the 21st anniversary of Shortland St. We're also very proud of our Australian and New Zealand event series. MasterChef NZ recorded its highest audiences ever this year and NZ's Got Talent is the biggest series on New Zealand television in the past ten years. I'm delighted to share with you that both will be back in 2013 and they will be joined by Mitre 10 Dream Home, this time in Christchurch in a refreshed format that takes DIY genre into an entirely new realm."
Latch also announced that TVNZ had just concluded a multi-year extension to its exclusive partnership with the Walt Disney company ("In fact, we just signed it 30 minutes ago"). And together with the Warner Bros output deal, he says TV One and TV2 "will have the best of international content for many years to come".
"We strive to ensure our content is reaching New Zealanders, wherever and whenever they want to see it. And we are developing additional content and online marketing opportunities where audiences can engage directly with the shows they love. My Kitchen Rules is a great example of this, where we created an app that allowed Kiwis to vote and have a voice on a show that was produced in Australia. So keep an eye on some great initiatives we'll be rolling out with our shows in the next year."
As for the boring stuff between the ads, sometimes known as content, the new season will see the launch of a refreshed line-up of presenters on the Breakfast show (Petra Bagust won't be there, but no names were mentioned), as well as the much-discussed new weekday current affairs show at 7pm (no word either on whether Paul Henry, whose breakfast show in Australia was axed this week, will be onboard, but there's plenty of speculation). Sunday, Fair Go and 20/20 will also be returning early in 2013.
Period dramas are de rigueur at present, and One has a couple of newbies on its schedule. Jeremy Piven will lead the cast in Mr Selfridge, a 10-part drama chronicling the story of American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, the flamboyant founder of Selfridge's department store, and there's also A Place to Call Home, which takes viewers back to 1950s Australia.
The lid is lifted on the world of country music divas in the new series Nashville, starring Connie Britton as legendary country music superstar Rayna Jaymes, whose fading career forces her to team up with rising teen star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). And Golden Globe winner Kevin Bacon stars in the new thriller The Following, which the Huffington Post called "The most suspenseful...the most action-packed...the best new show of the season".
Natural history has been solid fior TVNZ this year, and it hopes to replicate the success of the amazing Frozen Planet with Sir David Attenborough continuing his exploration of the globe and narrating the new series, Africa. He's also involved in The Kingdom of Plants and there's also Galapagos.
New to TV One, comedy/drama Agent Anna stars Robyn Malcolm as embattled solo mum Anna Kingston, down on her luck and turning to the world of real estate to reverse her fortunes; Showtime is a warts-and-all look at the world of NZ suburban theatre groups; Meet The Frockers is an observational documentary series which combines the humour and hysterics of a bride's search for the perfect wedding dress; Women In Blue follows the lives of seven female police officers working on the streets of New Zealand; Beyond the Bombays, which is from the makers of South and Intrepid Journeys, is a series that celebrates the beauty of the New Zealand landscape and the characters who dwell in it; and Rhys Darby puts on his khakis for Short Poppies.
Local productions The Food Truck,Global Radar and Auckland Daze are back. And from further afield, Call The Midwife, Mrs Brown's Boys, Person Of Interest, Criminal Minds and Miranda also return.
Coming to TV2, the new action series Arrow reinvents the DC Comics superhero for a new generation; 666 Park Avenue gets creepy; Mistresses is the provocative new series from the makers of Desperate Housewives about the scandalous lives of a sassy group of four girlfriends; and a bizarre twist of fate pulls ER's Anthony Edwards into a race against time to save his missing wife and the human race in the ticking time bomb, Zero Hour.
Go Girls will return for a fifth series, with a whole new gang of characters pursuing their destinies. And the line-up wouldn't be complete without all-new episodes of Shortland Street, now in its 21st year and still the number one show in the 7pm weeknight timeslot. 2013 also sees the return of popular primetime series Revenge, Once Upon A Time, My Kitchen Rules and Grey's Anatomy.
"The mix of leading international dramas, all the big comedies, the return of much-loved reality and entertainment shows, and the best of local programmes gives us confidence that in 2013, TV One and TV2 will continue to be the channels of choice for our key demographics," Latch says.