Masterchef NZ falls on its spatula to make way for new shows, NZ on Air dishes out cash for next year’s content—UPDATED

After five successful seasons, TVNZ has decided to pull the plug on MasterChef NZ to focus on other multi-night formats, including new drama Filthy Rich and new DIY porn Our First Home. And while TVNZ basks in the soapy ratings sunlight of Home & Away and Shortland St, MediaWorks is looking to follow suit and is asking for submissions for its own multi-night soap. 

Jeff Latch, TVNZ’s head of content, says local content is always the most watched on air and online and it underpins its success as a business. But viewers are increasingly demanding new content formats. Helpfully, NZ On Air has committed over $25 million to upcoming projects for TVNZ in its latest funding round across drama, comedy, special interest programming, children’s TV and docos (it received around $4 million for its own productions). 

The biggest single investment is $8 million towards Filthy Rich, a new multi-night drama series for TV2, helmed by writer/producers Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan (Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls) and produced by Steven Zanoski (Shortland Street).

A follow up doco on the Gloriavale community will also go ahead (the first rated a 21 with HHS with Kids 0-14) and Tagata Pasifika, Neighbourhood, Attitude, Fresh, Rural Delivery and Praise Be have also had their funding renewed for 2015.

ANZAC day celebrations are also funded across TVNZ and Maori TV and in the local documentary and factual category, Peak Antibiotics, Deer Devils and Making New Zealand — Mining and Drilling will be on Prime (Back Benches also got another round for Prime, although TVNZ gets the money to make it).

As for MediaWorks, it certainly didn’t get $25 million, but it got $2.6 for JABAT, 7 Days and the new series Funny Girls (Best Bits and Word Up got funding and will screen on TVNZ). Arranged, returning series Both Worlds and The Moe Show also received funding, so all up there’s $7.4 million in funding for projects that will screen on MediaWorks

MediaWorks’ ratings have suffered from the loss of Home & Away, which acted as a big funnel of viewers to its news programming. And, after the consistent ratings domination of Shortland St over the years, it’s inviting local production companies to submit ideas for a long-running daily serial drama set to launch on TV3 in 2015.

As it says in the release: 

The brief is for a broad appeal, five-day-a-week soap that is firmly rooted in contemporary New Zealand, and connects with TV3’s 25-54 demographic. 

The series should be family-centric (and suitable for a G timeslot), bright, entertaining and compelling, with appealing, accessible characters and rich, dramatic narrative.

Proposals should include ideas for integrating content across MediaWorks’ digital, social and radio platforms.

The request for proposals was sent to industry groups and individuals today, and can be downloaded at www.mediaworks.co.nz/news.aspx

So get your ideas in. Or just have a look at The Spinoff’s seven horrible pitches instead. 

From the digital media fund, Ignite, NZ On Air has supported K Road Stories, ten short films centred on the communities and cultures of Karangahape Road in Auckland, and a second year of funding has also been confirmed for The Wireless, the website run by Radio New Zealand for the yoof, and TheCoconet.tv. 

“Catering for special interest audiences is a core part of our remit under the Broadcasting Act,” says NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson. “In the old days it was on television and radio. Today, while we continue to fund many popular special interest programmes for television and a wide range on access radio, we are also seeing great results with online content for niche audiences. We will continue to explore and innovate in this area.”

But TV networks cannot live on government handouts alone. They also need corporate hand-outs. And TVNZ also has a number of commercially-funded local productions on the go. 

“We’re delighted with the performance of our first series of My Kitchen Rules NZ, which is the most watched show in a highly competitive timeslot and is successfully holding The Block and X Factor’s performance in check,” says Latch.

  • Check out some ratings comparisons here.

And adding its name to that is the new multi-night show Our First Home. The show is being made by Eyeworks (which also makes The Block NZ) with the support of BNZ, Toyota and Fly Buys. And TVNZ says “the ground up approach to production partnerships will take programme integration to the next level”. 

“Their early support has opened up a lot more creative opportunities that will add value to the viewers’ experience of this show,” says Lyndsey Francis, TVNZ’s general manager of media solutions and insights. “It’s going to be fantastic to see how their involvement will come to life in and around the show, across digital and in store. BNZ, Toyota and Fly Buys are a fantastic fit for Our First Home as they share a common desire to see Kiwis realise their dreams. We think our viewers will really respond to that and it will do great things for their businesses.” 

Over at MediaWorks, The Block NZ is moving towards its conclusion—and ensuring the audience gets its fair share of Wild Bean pie stops, gratuitous Honda establishing shots and Bunnings trips—and it has recently announced its commercial partners for the next season of X Factor NZ, with broadcast sponsor McDonald’s being joined by Fruttare, 2degrees and VO5 (last season’s sponsors Ford and Coca-Cola have decided against it). 

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