Want to reach Kiwis? NZ On Air media consumption study shows the old dogs are still dominant, but digital is nipping at their heels—UPDATED

When it comes to reaching New Zealanders, ye olde traditional broadcast media is still on top, with the results of NZ On Air’s independent media consumption study showing the majority of Kiwis are still consuming lots of linear television and live radio every day. But music audiences, the young and the Asian community are leading the charge to digital platforms. 

  • Read the full report here

“As technology expands and evolves, and audiences fragment in the face of ever-widening choice, it becomes more difficult to measure consumer behaviour across all sources,” says the study, which was conducted by Colmar Brunton. “… NZ On Air therefore needed to establish its own measure of how New Zealand audiences are accessing video content and music, and a means for tracking changes in behaviour over time.” 

To do this Colmar Brunton surveyed 1,400 New Zealanders (1000 by phone and 400 online) aged 15-plus in April this year about their media consumption.

“Two difficulties face survey-based measurement of media consumption: 1) Consumers’ memories of actual behaviour can be vague or misleading if they are asked to state their behaviour over an extended period of time (eg. the last week). And 2) consumers are poor witnesses to their own behaviour when asked about what they ‘typically’ do. To overcome these difficulties and provide a more accurate, survey-based measure of actual behaviour, respondents were asked about their behaviour yesterday within specific time periods from 6am to midnight. In this way respondent reporting of media consumption is both fresh in their minds and within specific parts of the day.”

NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson says most of us carry a screen in our pockets these days and have multiple devices in our homes for consuming media.

“As the main funder of local content we wanted to know if the chatter about viewers turning off mainstream media and tuning in to online media was true,” she says. 

No methodology is perfect, of course, and the results of the study are still based on what people thought they did, not what they actually did, which can often be quite different. But, largely, the old dogs still rule, with the survey showing 83 percent of respondents watched live television daily, while 67 percent listened to live radio. 

According to this study, New Zealanders watch more than two and a half hours of linear TV each day (162 minutes), and they listen to an hour and three quarters of broadcast radio (107 minutes). 

All media is fragmenting, says the study, particularly online, but TV still offers the biggest concentration of audiences. The daily reach of TV One (48%), TV3 (35%), TV2 (27%), Prime (15%), Sky Sport channels (combined 14%) is massive. And while radio is still popular and reaches 67 percent of New Zealanders every day (it is more fragmented than other media, but four stations—RNZ National, The Edge, ZM and Newstalk ZB—reach approximately one in ten New Zealanders each day), music is moving online faster than other content and young people are leading the charge.

When asked where they became aware of new music, 60 percent of all respondents said on the radio and 36 percent said via streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud. Among 15-24 year olds the latter figure jumps to 67 percent. Newer market entrants Spotify and iHeartRadio have already achieved a weekly reach of 12 percent and five percent respectively.

Newspapers and magazines, both in print and online, were also high up the list, reaching 78 percent and 53 percent of Kiwis respectively over a week.

Different media suits different times and radio and newspapers (including online) typically start the day until TV takes over at 6pm​. 

12 percent of New Zealanders use an New Zealand Ondemand site each day and the most popular Ondemand site, TVNZ, reaches seven percent of New Zealanders each day, so it’s catching up with the linear channels in terms of reach. Six percent used overseas online TV sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu (Slingshot is aiming to grow this group with its legally dubious Global Mode).

Digital evangelists—many of whom seem to work in this industry—have a habit of thinking they are normal or representative of society. They’re generally not, of course. Combine that bias with the excitement of the new and it means there is plenty of discussion about the death of *insert traditional media here* and the rise of everything else, despite the fact that, as this survey shows, many of them remain strong in the face of fragmentation. As an example, when we spoke with Sky chief executive John Fellet for a feature in NZ Marketing, he said: “The internet brings forward a lot of challenges but also a lot of opportunities. We would never even have considered doing SkyGo three or four years ago, but we’re slowly moving to a much more on-demand world. But even in Silicon Valley, which is the heart of the internet, you’d guess that no-one watches linear TV anymore. In fact, 94 percent of all TV watched in San Jose is linear. Streaming has a huge high profile and to expand our subscriber base, especially with the younger ones, we’ve got to be there. But the subscriber is almost confused with how many options there are. So we want to be the trusted entertainment brand and we want them to lean towards Sky.” 

Not surprisingly, it’s among the younger generation that the move to online is most obvious. While 76 percent of 15—24 year olds watched linear television daily, 66 percent also watched videos online (YouYube or Vimeo) the previous day.

The primary differentiator of media consumption is age. This is intrinsically and inseparably linked to lifestage (ie. kids vs no kids, studying vs working, single vs married, renting vs mortgage etc.) which also has a strong influence on consumption patterns.  The secondary differentiators are ethnicity, and access to enabling technology such as smartphones, tablets and  smart TVs connected to the Internet. And thirdly for some media, gender, socio-economic level, and region play a role in influencing behaviour. The effect of these differentiators is strong, but there is only one sub-group in the population (Asian people) among  whom linear TV does not enjoy a lead over all other media.

Asian consumers demonstrate significantly different behaviour, the study says, and, unlike other groups, online video is equally as popular as linear TV. There are also some major difference in the Maori community. 

Online video such as YouTube reaches the same number of Asian people each day as linear TV (62%). This is the 
only sub-group in the population among whom linear TV is not clearly most popular. Asian New Zealanders are also more likely than average to consume online TV such as Netflix and Hulu, online New Zealand radio, and music streaming. These trends will be driven by cultural, language, and also technology factors. For instance Asian New Zealanders have greater access to enabling technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs connected to the Internet.

Māori consumers also exhibit different media consumption patterns. This group are less likely to listen to New Zealand broadcast radio, and more likely to watch linear TV, use New Zealand Ondemand sites, watch online video, and stream music. 
These differences will be driven by a range of factors including the age profile of this group. Māori are a very 
young cohort in the population – 44% are aged under 20 according to the 2013 Census. Given that age is the 
primary differentiator of behaviour, this age profile will be strongly influencing the media consumption of Māori.

While there’s plenty of talk by broadcasters about audience engagement via social media, it’s still fairly niche, with one in five New Zealanders (20 percent) ever talking about a TV show on Facebook (15-24s were 43 percent) and 25-34s were 33). Just three percent of New Zealanders and six percent of 15-34s have ever used Twitter to talk to about a TV show. 

Other online content such as webseries like Loading Docs still have a small audience. But NZ On Air says it will continue to take a close interest in this area given the opportunities for innovation and experimentation. 

“NZ On Air has always said that we will go where the audiences are. By and large, the audiences are still in front of the television or listening to radio, but they are consuming all sorts of other media as well,” says Wrightson. “With music it is clear that if not a ‘revolution’, then certainly a fast-moving ‘evolution’ is taking place. For this reason we are increasingly shifting our music promotions focus to online platforms, to ensure that people looking for New Zealand music online can easily find what they enjoy.”

Conversely, the study shows that “the most effective single means of informing audiences of new New Zealand TV shows is via an on-air TV promo, rather than targeting key audiences via other media”. 

NZ On Air intends to repeat the research at intervals to show trends over time. 

Agencies and advertisers weren’t invited to the presentation, even though some were keen to attend, simply because they are not NZ On Air’s stakeholders. 

TVNZ says the study gives it a great insight into New Zealanders’ media habits and advertisers are clearly on to it. 

“If you look at these consumer trends and compare them with the latest ASA ad revenue figures you can see just how closely aligned the two are. TV takes the top spot in both reports with online coming up through the ranks.” 

Responding to the results of the survey, TVNZ’s ​general manager of commissioning, production and acquisitions Andrew Shaw says:

The NZ On Air report reinforces our continued confidence in the TV business. It reflects what we see every day – that while consumption habits are changing TV continues to draw the biggest crowds. It captures the big trends, that Kiwi viewers turn to TV as their primary source of information and entertainment and that online is a relatively small but growing part of our everyday lives. There’s no real surprises about what it says about younger audiences’ media habits. Watching TV is their favourite pastime and they’re more likely to stream content than their parents. We know they don’t like to be kept waiting for content – they demand immediacy – and they’re more likely to seek out extra content online about the shows they’re watching. They’re the future core of our business so we’re acutely aware of the need to pay close attention to what they’re doing so we can continue to maximise our audiences across all screens in the future. It’s why we’re fast tracking more content on TV2 and TVNZ Ondemand than ever before. We’re gearing up to broadcast the final of The Voice Australia live on TV2 later this month, which means the increasing numbers of these connected viewers will be able to share in the event at the exact same time as their Australian cousins.

MediaWorks TV director of sales & marketing, Liz Fraser says:

This is a valuable study for us and for our clients – and I think it’s a fantastic initiative for NZ On Air.  The outcomes are very much in line with what broadcasters and advertisers already know, and the study gives us valuable extra information on how digital currently sits in the media mix. 

The biggest outtake for MediaWorks is the combined power of the television and radio broadcast platforms.  Add in our constantly evolving group of digital assets and the MediaWorks Group reaches 97.2% of New Zealanders aged 10 and over.  That’s a powerful business advantage, and the results we deliver on integrated projects like The Block NZ and The X Factor NZ show what can be achieved.

Digital is an incredibly important area of development and we’re constantly to working to make our content available everywhere our audience wants to be.  

Chief executive of MediaWorks Radio, Wendy Palmer says: 

It’s great to have a study that encompasses the many different media platforms. These results reinforce our understanding of where radio, and in particular the MediaWorks brands, sit in the wider market.  It’s no surprise to see The Edge is the #1 commercial radio brand, or the broad reach of The Rock, RadioLIVE and MoreFM.

As Liz says, this study really underlines the strength of the MediaWorks Group; New Zealanders spend most of their time with TV and radio but also use a wide range of smaller media, and MediaWorks is uniquely able to leverage radio, TV, and digital. Importantly for our audiences and clients, MediaWorks can offer access to high-reach media at every point in the day; radio in the morning, TV in the evening, and digital wherever and whenever the audience chooses. That means Jono and Ben weekdays 3-7pm on The Rock, Fridays at 10.30pm on TV3 and anytime on twitter, therock.net.nz or their huge Facebook page.

We’re acutely aware of the way our audiences consume media, especially the younger generation who engage with brands like The Edge and Mai FM. The Edge TV is a great recent example. We’ve ensured The Edge TV viewers can stream it LIVE on their mobiles and tablets as well as online – the first free-to-air TV channel to be available on all those platforms.

Yesterday we announced the latest TV/Radio/Digital crossover, a new pop culture show SMASH!  A collaboration between FOUR and The Edge TV, which will screen on both channels, hosted by Marty & Steph from The Edge Night Show, and feature extensive social media integration. 

The Highlights 

  • Traditional broadcast platforms (TV & radio) still deliver the biggest audiences in New Zealand, including hard to find 
  • and targeted audiences. 
  • More New Zealanders tune in to these media, more often, and for longer than any alternatives. 
  • Radio and newspapers (including online) typically start New Zealanders’ day, and TV takes over at 6pm 
  • All media exhibits audience fragmentation and it is extreme in some online media, but significant audience concentrations still exist on linear TV channels, and to a lesser extent broadcast radio stations and New Zealand Ondemand sites. 
  • Digital media is taking small bites of the pie. 
  • Overall media consumption patterns hold true across all sub-groups in the population, but there are some significant generational, technological, and ethnic differences in behaviour. 
  • While radio is still most popular, music is moving online faster than other media. 
  • Use of unauthorised distribution platforms (including illegal) is undoubtedly growing but currently very few participate 
  • frequently. 
  • Combining extra content online with linear TV extends engagement with TV shows for some consumers 
  • Using social media to talk about TV shows is as common as looking for extra content online. 
  • Webseries benefit from being on a strong online platform to generate awareness and reach their audience. 
  • One in nine (11%) use captioning while watching TV, and 2% use audio description. 

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