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The future gazer: How TVNZ is incorporating augmented reality into its production

Kym Niblock

“A lot of the work we do now in the consumer space has parallels with futurism,” says Kym Niblock as we sit down for a discussion about her new role as TVNZ’s chief product and information officer.

“It’s about considering what we’re going to look like in 2020, 2030 or 2040 and how things are going to come together.”

In her new role, Niblock now finds herself future-gazing again, looking at where consumers are likely to move in the future and making sure that TVNZ is in the right place to catch them when they relocate.

“There’s no question that audiences are changing and that everything is fragmenting, and you can’t just treat everyone the same,” she says.

“You now have to segment your audience and make your experience relevant to their lives or at least add to the relevancy they already have.”

One way TVNZ is accomplishing this is through incorporation of augmented reality in news, allowing 1 News journalists to tell more interactive stories.

“It brings the news to life,” says Niblock, comparing it to the CGI effects often employed in filmmaking. Through the tech, a presenter could for instance be projected walking through snowy mountains pinpointing the exact location where a group of climbers might be missing.

TVNZ tech experimentation was also recently showcased during the ambitious, multi-platform special ‘What Next?’, which was live-streamed and featured a range of interactive elements.

Niblock says investing in this type of cutting-edge programming is worth the expense because it gives viewers another reason to stay tuned in, regardless of whether it’s live broadcast or online.

“It’s time we stop worrying about whether stuff is live on-air or online and just focus on telling the story. It might be a factual story, it might be a great piece of entertainment and it might even come from overseas but it’s always about what audiences want to use their time for.”
She extends this challenge to advertisers as well, who similarly should be looking at how to better reach viewers across different channels.

“We have the segments clearly defined and the opportunity is now there for you to use your creativity to engage them.

In the modern media context, the tech is important only insofar as it improves the viewer experience. To Niblock, there’s no point in doing something unless it improves the viewer experience immediately.

“I see myself first and foremost as a consumer advocate. I’m about putting customers at the centre of the product and what you do and if your product doesn’t meet your customer needs, then you’re probably going to have a problem.”

Finding out what works and what doesn’t work will invariably necessitate a few more risks along the way. But as shown in TVNZ’s experimental ‘What Next?’ and its investment in AR tech for 1 News, the broadcaster is willing to experiment on a grand scale if it means keeping its two million daily viewers hooked. 

This story is part of a content partnership with TVNZ.

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