Samsung deal brings TVNZ Ondemand to smart TVs

Korean technology giant Samsung has announced its latest Smart TVs now play nicely with TVNZ’s Ondemand video service.

Using a downloaded app, owners of Samsung’s 2011 and 2012 Smart TV models can browse and play streaming videos from TVNZ’s catalogue of shows. According to Samsung’s PR agency, the app was live at the end of last year, but there was a delay in distributing the announcement.

Samsung says TVNZ Ondemand has more than 435,000 unique viewers, and its most popular show, Shortland Street, had more than 500,000 streaming views in November 2012.

The TV app was signaled last year by TVNZ’s general manager of digital media, Tom Cotter, as part of a larger strategy to expand Ondemand availability to more platforms. Previously Ondemand was only supported on Flash-capable computers, Playstation 3, and some Samsung Blu-Ray players.

“The genuine intention for us is to change the perception of what a broadcaster is from free-to-air to free-to-screen and making sure there’s that choice there,” said Cotter at the time.

One of the major complaints of the Ondemand service, and one which could eventually hit TVNZ’s bottom line in an increasingly mobile-first society, is its lack of iPhone and iPad support. 

TVNZ Ondemand uses a Flash video player unsupported by iOS devices. Workarounds like Skyfire, which converts Flash to a format playable on iOS, do not work either because TVNZ’s geolocation locking service identifies it as coming from overseas, and blocks it to comply with programme licenses. 

Cotter says a TVNZ Ondemand iOS app will be launched in February.

As someone whose Samsung TV sits gathering dust except when the sports is on, it’s good to see Ondemand jumping on other platforms, giving me legal avenues to catch up with TVNZ shows on my own terms.

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