Last night, TVNZ announced its new season line up for 2020. This line up brings both local and international offers at a grand scale, with large, ambitious content cutting through to all audiences. A healthy mix of new mass productions and a hint of classics we’re rolled out as executives showcased their new offerings.
Over two million New Zealanders tune into TVNZ every day, with the range of content consumed flitting between international and local shows. According to Cate Slater, director of content for TVNZ, upping production of local shows was necessary to cut through to masses of content delivered to audiences daily.
“Kiwi’s just like really good content, the beauty of local is you can make something you now that will resonate with your audience. Our viewers don’t watch things just because they’re local, they have to stand out against international content. Our local content is strong, but it does need to cut through, that’s why you see these big projects with these big names attached.”
One such example is TVNZ and BBC’s immersive adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s novel, The Luminaries, an account of the Bain family murders based on, and named after, the award-winning podcast, Black Hands.
“Black Hands I think is going to be a huge hit after the very successful podcast. It’s an absolute ripper of a story, it’s stranger than fiction. It’s a real inside look into the Bain family, and it’ll be the drama that everyone will be talking about next year.
“Then we have The Luminaries, which is our big BBC co-production and that is epic in scale, and that one will be huge both here and internationally.”
Some international fan favourites, now with a local spin include, comedic show Task Masters, Horizons will be expanded with landmark series Origins, hosted by Scotty Morrison. While Japan with Rhys Darby, Spiky Gold Hunters and Eat Well For Less NZ will inform and entertain.
Slater says returns of shows which follow and international format, such as The Bachelorette, with a plot-twist host Art Green, Bake Off, Treasure Island and Have You Been Paying Attention, need continual focus to make sure they’re still locally relatable.
“When you’re buying international formats, you are buying something that is proven to work. But you still need to make sure it’s going to resonate with the local audiences.”
While the focus is local, hit international shows will sit alongside homegrown productions. TVNZ is excited to be the official home of BBC’s landmark natural history documentaries, securing a multiyear deal for wildlife and David Attenborough series from the broadcaster.
“Those series are massive, and they’re huge budget very ambitious productions, and they’re very important productions from a social perspective which highlights our world. So we’re thrilled to be able to give viewers that long term offering with the BBC,” says Slater.
TVNZ also brings back fan classics such as Friends and Seinfeld, which Slater says is now starting to appeal to younger audiences who weren’t around when it was first aired.
“We’re finding these shows can deliver to existing and new audiences. And they have so much volume in them which keeps people coming back, which acts as a gateway for our other content.”
Although a large focus for TVNZ has been on informing and entertaining, the sports portfolio is also increasing, which is looking promising after record-breaking viewing numbers due to this year’s Rugby World Cup.
“We’ve definitely seen our sport resonating with those key audiences, it kicked off this year with Black Clash, which saw audiences of one million tuning in to see that charity match of Cricket vs Rugby,” says Slater.
“We’ve obviously had the biggest sporting event on the planet which was the Rugby World Cup. Over three million Kiwis tuned in over the course of that coverage. As well as that we had a record-breaking number of 25 percent of the New Zealand population tuning in to watch that semi-final. A rating which we haven’t seen since 2008.”
The new sport padfolio comes in time for the lead up to the 2021 America’s Cup, this time on home soil which Slater admits will benefit ratings, which she is expecting to climb significantly during the competition.
“It’s not about the sailing, it’s about Kiwi pride, innovation and ingenuity, it’s about us against the world in a way that really resonates with all New Zealand viewers.”
Alongside record-breaking viewers for live sport, TVNZ had another milestone when TVNZ OnDemand hit 184 Million streams in 2019. Slater says the numbers are a show of hard work to provide mass content towards the platform.
“We have been working hard at making that a reality, through buying the best international content specifically for OnDemand. Through making sure all our own channel shows are available OnDemand as well, and through investing in local shows specifically for the platform.”
“There is a lot of shows that have appeal for commercial partners, the likes of Celebrity Treasure Island, The Bachelorette, Eat Well for Less, they’ve all got opportunities for commercial partners. In a way that is really natural in organic in the way we integrate them into those shows.”
For Slater, new content, traditional offers and mass-produced big-budget shows are expected to bring in the masses for 2020.
“Our content has been designed in a way that has the specific aim of reaching large and broad audiences. It’s all about the scale, the variety, and the cut-through. So, we’ve got a really diverse content slate that I know is really going to resonate with our local viewers.”