Kiwi viewers turn to internet for TV fix

By Bevan Hurley

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Our two biggest television networks are streaming 500,000 episodes over the internet every week as Kiwis increasingly go online to watch homegrown drama.

TVNZ's online OnDemand services attracted 320,000 weekly views during the past year. Shortland Street drew about 75,000 hits in its best week last year - still only a fraction of the 600,000 viewers who tuned in to watch on one Tuesday night last month.

TV3 said its website attracted 180,000 views in a "good week". Next Top Model, as well as old episodes of Outrageous Fortune and The Almighty Johnsons, were among the most popular.

MediaWorks announced a second series of The Almighty Johnsons this week.

Networks say it is only a matter of time before more people are watching TV online than on the box.

"Whether that's 20 or 30 years away it's hard to say," said TVNZ's general manager of digital media, Tom Cotter.

"But there is a beauty about live television that binds us together as a community."

Both broadcasters have pumped millions into improving online services but cite commercial sensitivities in refusing to say how much they have spent or whether the websites are turning a profit.

MediaWorks interactive director Siobhan McKenna said it had gained 20 per cent more viewers each month since launching Video On Demand last June. "We've spent a long time getting smart about our approach to running it well and that means we haven't needed to continue throwing millions of dollars at it.

"The big shows from [TV3] and Four are what we throw most resources at."

McKenna said television was a great medium for promoting new shows and the internet gave the viewer control over when and where they watched. "And let's face it, it's easier to discreetly watch Californication again at work online."

Shows aimed at teenagers rate particularly well, such as Vampire Diaries and Top Model.

- Herald on Sunday

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