It is fair to say that the initial version of the 3Now app wasn't exactly a marvel of technological brilliance. 'unusuable', 'pile of garbage' and 'crap' were just some of the colourful descriptions chosen by users to describe it since its release. However, over the last few months, MediaWorks made a concerted effort to iron out the kinks and today announced the official launch of an upgraded version.
According to MediaWorks’ chief information and product officer Tom Cotter, the app, for Android and iOS, includes a number of improvements, such as an improved front end, better design and a new viewing experience built very much with the user in mind.
“We are really trying to bring in a smooth experience, not just from a navigation point of view but also for the ads,” he says.
“We have worked with Brightcove on one of the first deployments of its kind, where we can deploy across iOS and server-side ads.”
He says this means every stream it delivers is completely unique to each individual and the ads are stitched seamlessly into the piece of content, also making them unskippable.
“So it defeats ad blockers, which is a growing scourge for online publishers. About 20 percent of the market are using ad blockers.”
MediaWorks also recently enabled 100 percent viewable banner ads.
Cotter says a long-form stream provides a really smooth transition of content to ad breaks, without any lagging.
“It’s a very TV-like experience. And by putting this backend platform in with Brightcove and having the server-side ad insertion and the Apple ecosystem in place, it enables us to tackle one of the biggest complaints that broadcasters get, and that’s ‘Why doesn’t it enable Airplay?’,” he says.
“So within our product set you can go to the Apple TV and go directly to the 3Now app and you can find it and watch it directly on your big screen.”
He says live-streaming of key shows is also available.
MediaWorks believes its ability to have ads delivered through Airplay and within Apple TV to be a world first, he says. “And that’s something that we have arranged in a partnership with them. It’s a good nod to New Zealand being a test and trial market where they deploy often relatively new technologies with us.”
He says the redesign and improved functions were part of MediaWorks going out and solving one of those major areas for customers and enabling people to sit down and watch TV where it’s supposed to be, on the TV.
Another change lies in the login system, with users now being required to sign in.
“Again, we want to do as much as we can to reduce the barrier for people to get onto the platform. So, it allows users to log in through Facebook.”
He says the login will provide strong advertiser benefit, connecting them with the most relevant audience, as well as providing audience benefit for content targeting.
“Because you logged in and we know you, without being creepy about it, we are giving you what you want and in a space where we can deliver something compelling so we have listened to the audience …”
TVNZ has also enabled mandatory login for its on demand service, which apparently hasn't impeded its audience, with over one million verified users signing on.
He also says if a viewer hasn’t got to the end of a piece of content, the video will pause and the user can continue watching from where they were in the video at a later time.
MediaWorks corporate communications manager Will Seal said he couldn't confirm how many downloads the new app or previous app had, but did say it's "currently the number one free entertainment app in the New Zealand app store."