Rivals hunt winning formula as on demand grows apace

  • Digital
  • March 27, 2014
  • Amanda Sachtleben
Rivals hunt winning formula as on demand grows apace

TVNZ is offering on demand content 'first and fast', Sky has more live streamed channels in the pipeline and is working on adding video on demand to its app, while MediaWorks has found dangling the viewer carrot of the Netflix series House of Cards has driven up adoption of the recently-revamped 3Now platform.

It's a space to watch as on demand becomes about more than catching up on your favourite show as you sit on the bus or your couch.

TVNZ has reached 10 million streams for its OD platform so far this year and was on track to hit five million streams by the end of the month, a rate that's double what was being achieved at this time last year.

Recently-appointed general manager of On Demand Jason Foden expects those numbers to be boosted by Firsts which offers shows it says viewers can be the first to watch in country, and Fasts, offered On Demand two days after becoming available overseas.

"It's a compelling story for viewers and it's a growth area with people spending more time and more people viewing," says Foden. "The new proposition is not just about catch up but about being first. There a market of people who want to see content as soon as it come out in the US. We're just taking away that hurdle. You don't have to look at an illegal site to look at this content."

Making shows available in this way also has a halo effect as early on demand viewers talk about episodes and encourage others to watch on broadcast TV, says Foden.

Sky says it can't supply streams for the Sky Go app since it launched last December, but says it's been downloaded 85,000 times.

Viewing numbers are similar between the web and the app, but internet viewers watch longer, it says. With an Android version of Sky Go set to launch next month, the company is working on several on demand developments, says spokesperson Kirsty Way.

They include extra live streamed channels, for example pop-up channels for the Commonwealth Games and Formula One, the addition of video on demand to Sky Go, new search functionality and a personalisation and recommendation engine.

Mediaworks, meanwhile, recently said the 3NOW app, launched about a month ago, had been downloaded more than 134,500 times. The number one 3Now programme was House of Cards, the Netflix political thriller it offered viewers as a box set until 23 March, had reached more than 100,000 streams.

MediaWorks' director of interactive Siobhan McKenna said at the time it had received positive user feedback about the app's features, content, look and feel and ease of use.

TVNZ's platform saw unique audience growth of 58,000 this February over the same month last year, with Sky Go (formerly iSky) achieving a unique audience of 85,000 this February, with mobile apps excluded, according to Nielsen data.

Content first

On Sky it's sport that takes a clear lead in live streamed channels, with movies and SoHo leading the pack in terms of Sky Go across desktop and TV.

Between 24 February and 9 March, the period following the launch of 3Now, the top ten shows via the app were House of Cards, Big Brother Australia, Jono and Ben at Ten, The Blacklist, The GC, Seven Days, NCIS, CSI, Sons of Anarchy and the 6pm 3News bulletin.

TVNZ on demand users continue to favour serialised content, says Foden. Its top ten shows for February and March were Shortland Street, Home and Away, Coronation Street, The Bachelor, Peppa Pig, Masterchef, The Big Bang Theory, Step Dave, Revenge and Marvels Agents of Shield.

Based on data from the first week of First and Fast, Foden expects shows performing well there to join that list. They include The Mentalist and Criminal Minds, along with The following, Wonderland and the Bachelor.

The broadcaster says telcos are potentially a friend when it comes to distribution as well. Foden says he hasn't been privy to any conversations with Telecom, but believe they've taken place. Telecom already puts its name to TVNZ's Ondemand Firsts website.

"TVNZ has spoken internally and externally that we would entertain a conversation with Telecom. We distribute on Sky and Freeview and Igloo so there's no reason we wouldn't look at another partner," he says.

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