By David Turner (Head of Investment – Media)
In the last twelve months, two key content genres have emerged as vital to the success of local television network offerings. MediaWorks have found success with entertainment reality (championing shows such as Married at First Sight and The Block), while TVNZ have recently made it clear that their focus is sport (securing the rights to the 2018 Commonwealth Games and next year’s Rugby World Cup). Though these styles of content differ dramatically, they have both successfully delivered solid audiences and offered opportunities for revenue growth.
TVNZ’s recent success with the Commonwealth Games only reiterated that sport means a lot to a large portion of New Zealanders. It also highlighted that when this content is offered on a free-to-air platform, it drives significant interest: TVNZ1’s AP 25-54 ratings lifted 54% versus the three weeks prior to the Games. The only barrier faced by TVNZ was having to send audiences online if they wished to watch sports which weren’t scheduled to run on TVNZ1, DUKE or TVNZ Games Extra. Due to the lack of available broadcast channels, the viewing experience wasn’t as seamless as the likes of what SKY could offer, eliciting some negative feedback from viewers. However, this didn’t turn off audiences: New Zealand watched the Games in great numbers, with almost 3 million viewers tuning in throughout, and TVNZ’s OnDemand registrations lifted by 42,000. Not only was TVNZ’s coverage exceptional, but throughout all it, they also found time to test the Alternative Commentary Collective on Duke – a huge leap of faith for the network.
TVNZ and Spark’s successful bid for the Rugby World Cup 2019 came as a surprise – however, as the competition does not require production and filming, it’s clear that the IRB’s sole decision criteria came down to the highest offer. In this context, SKY wasn’t able to compete with the likes of these two major players. However, the SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) contract will be a different story, remaining the jewel in SKY’s crown. From my perspective, the joint bid for the RWC has made it harder for much of the country to watch New Zealand’s most-watched sporting competition. Frustrations will appear when those who live in regional rugby strongholds can’t watch HD games via their substandard internet connections. (That said, a year and a half is a long time for technology, so I hope I’m proven wrong.)
On the other side of the fence, MediaWorks have developed a great brand in The Block. When they started to see a slide in performance, they successfully revived the property to become one of 2017’s strongest shows. Reality relies heavily on talent and MediaWorks successfully turned around the franchise when they placed a greater focus on this element. We expect that this year’s season will have another solid performance, and grow share as the other networks struggle to compete. Another show which also relies heavily on talent is Dancing with the Stars. Yes, it’s an old format, but with the right stars it will perform. Launch night was a success, beating the competition to achieve a 29% share against AP 25-54 (ahead of both TVNZ channels).
Married at First Sight was a surprise hit at the end of 2017, leaving viewers wanting more. Enter the Australian version, which exceeded everyone’s expectations with a plot that just couldn’t be written – and proving highly successful for MediaWorks’ ratings. It comes as no surprise that MediaWorks have commissioned a second local season this year, and of course, the next Australian version will no doubt offer some very entertaining viewing too.
Both live sport and entertainment reality are key genres in the local market, and will remain vital in the fight for audiences. Of course, live sport will live on for many years. Though entertainment reality won’t, it will nonetheless serve as a key genre over the next few years.