Early on in yesterday’s presentation for the new season launch, chief executive Kevin Kenrick made reference to ad contrarian Bob Hoffman’s quote: “TV isn’t dying, it’s just having babies”.
It sums up TVNZ’s mission to “provide more content in more places”–another line thrown about throughout the presentation.
However, despite the number of platforms–TV, online and mobile–one of the first announcements was about TVNZ’s holistic approach, in order to make viewing content easier for audiences.
“Nobody wants to work hard to find content. We’ll consolidate all our entertainment content in one place online that will deliver live-streaming of all our TV channels,” Kenrick says. “And from this Sunday we’re simplifying the presentation of TVNZ’s brands to make it easy for viewers to find all the content we have to offer whether you’re watching TVNZ 1, TVNZ 2, TVNZ DUKE, 1 News Now or TVNZ OnDemand.”
TVNZ.co.nz will be combined with TVNZ OnDemand so one website hosts the live-streaming of all TV channels, OnDemand content, information about coming shows as well as content from third party partners.
This holistic approach to content follows NZ On Air’s announcement of a shake-up of its funding model. From July next year, it will replace its multiple funds with one single New Zealand Media Fund that will be platform-neutral. The four streams will be factual, scripted, music and platforms.
This means money won’t be designated specifically for radio, web or television. Instead, when an idea is commissioned, its performance across all platforms will be considered from the get-go.
About the model, TVNZ director of content Jeff Latch says: “That will mean the entire local slate will have more opportunities and will be thought of much more as a truly integrated multi-platform property, rather than a TV show or an online show.”
One of the big announcements of the day was the New Blood initiative, which represents TVNZ’s recognition of the new wave of viewers who aren’t traditional TV audiences.
Blacksand digital creative director, Aime Mills introduced it by saying: “The next generation and the ones to come are growing up with a completely different relationship to the television than we had, so this is trying to say, ‘okay, how are we going to do things differently? And how are we going to try and create different types of content that we actually know they are going to love and want to watch?’”
Those ideas came from the two hundred TVNZ staff under 30 years old. Mills says those individuals come from all different departments within TVNZ, from tech right through to legal, and have talked to all levels right up to the executives.
The first initiative is a webseries competition in collaboration with NZ On Air. Kicking off in January, anyone in New Zealand can submit a pilot and from those a shortlist will be created and shared on TVNZ OnDemand. The reins will then be handed over to New Zealanders to have their say on what they love and want to see made into a full web series. The winner will receive $100,000 of production funding.
The second, is a New Blood content lab, which Mills says is all about creating lots of different forms of content, from podcasts to comedy skits.
The third is a New Blood talent scheme, designed to foster the talent that’s already out there, giving them more opportunities, as well as finding new talent out there, giving them a voice.
On air vs online
Kenrick says there are key differences in how people view content online, and TVNZ is responding to that by stepping up its TVNZ OnDemand offering.
It will increase its stacking rights online, meaning viewers will be able to binge-watch programmes. This is different to rolling rights, which sees episodes go online and then taken down shortly after.
It will also offer more chances for the audience to watch US drama and comedy programmes at the same times as American audiences. These include: Quantico, Two Broke Girls, Once Upon a Time, Super Girl and Grey’s Anatomy.
Of course just as important as its platform strategy announcement is the previewing of the programmes to come, because, as general manager commissioning and production Andrew Shaw says: “We look at it and think, irrespective of where people see it, on what device, it is actually about the content”.
Among the big international hits, TVNZ has continued its championing of locally produced content.
Filthy Rich is set to return to screens after a successful first season. Not only was it a hit here, it was also streamed internationally and has since seen its production crew commissioned to make content for overseas viewers. It proves that NZ On Air’s investment in locally-made programming is not only about entertaining Kiwis, it’s about showing our talent off to the world.
New to screens will be Dear Murderer, a drama based on one of the most flamboyant and outrageous men in New Zealand legal history, criminal lawyer Mike Bungay.
And for a dose of local reality TV, Survivor New Zealand will also be coming to screens in 2017, meaning host Matt Chisholm (left) survived the challenges and spiders in Nicaragua.
My Kitchen Rules NZ will also return to TVNZ 2, with celebrity chefs Pete Evans (on left) and Manu Feidel (on right) of My Kitchen Rules Australia at the judging table.
About the new judges, Shaw says: “We are teaming up with format-owners and producers Seven Productions, to turn up the heat on MKR NZ and serve to [TV] 2 viewers in 2017.
“We could not be happier to have legends Pete Evans and Manu Feildel joining the series to travel our country and dish up the drama to a bunch of new Kiwi home cooks.”
Of course Shortland Street also got a shout out in the announcements, with it soon to mark its 25th birthday. “What would New Zealand TV look like without Shortland Street?,” Shaw asked as he boasted it’s half-a-million people reach every night.
1 News may have had a name change (albeit a spelling change) but Shaw emphasised how news and current affairs will remain the cornerstone of TVNZ 1’s content offering.
Head of news and current affairs John Gillespie was also on hand to talk up the recent changes to Breakfast, which have seen Hilary Barry and Jake Tame take to the couch.
“The change we’ve done for Breakfast was really a response to our audience change and we are really proud of what we’ve done for Breakfast. We started Breakfast 19 years ago and we have won breakfast for 19 years and will continue to win it. So really happy with the team and it will get better. There was some pre-publicity questioning that but I think they’re fantastic.”
The first new programme off the rank was the UK period drama Victoria, which Shaw championed as a cross between Downton Abbey and House of Cards. High impact drama 24 Legacy will be coming to 2, as well as Time After Time.
Victoria and Time After Time
On TVNZ Duke, Full Frontal starring Samantha Bee from The Tonight Show was given a showing and with the protagonist played by a female, it’s a sign that the channel is not quite as male skewed as it was introduced as being.
In fact, Latch says the latest data around its audience shows its 52 percent males and 49 percent females. “The whole male-skewing thing – that’s kind of gone,” he says.
Also new to Duke and TVNZ OnDemand will be eLeague, one of the most successful online gaming competitions in the world. eSports as it is called, is booming overseas and Duke is hoping to get a share of the millions of people watching it around the world.
One of the advantages of Duke is it doesn’t have the same restrictions the other channels do around certain programmes at certain times of the day, so TVNZ has more opportunity to air new things.
“They would always clash with Breakfast or they’d clash with the six news or they’d clash with our fixed commitment to Shortland street,” Latch says. “With Duke, we don’t have that same restriction. That’s been a real game changer for us; so we can do eSports, and put it out free to air. We can do the NBA; we can do the NFL; we can do major sporting competitions, whether they’re e-sports or traditional sports; and other events.”
Also returning to the screens will be Cold Feet, and the popular whodunnit series Doctor Foster and Broadchurch.
The new programme line up includes:
The Naked Choir
The DNA Detectives
Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty
Coast New Zealand
One of Us
Walliams and Friend
Survivor New Zealand
My Kitchen Rules NZ
The Big Bang Theory
First Dates NZ
Time After Time
The Blacklist: Redemption
Life In Pieces
Extreme Russia With Reggie Yates