Earlier this week TVNZ engaged in some good, old fashioned smack talk.
"There aren't that many great shows on Netflix," claimed Andrew Shaw, TVNZ's deputy director of content, in a splutteringly misguided and ignorant statement that made it sound entirely like he had no idea what the hell he was talking about.
Hepped up on gawd knows what - hubris would be my best guess - he lashed out, labelling the online streaming service "a fad", accused the media of "overhyping" the brand and likened it to a family pet that's "nice to stroke" and leaves you feeling "warm and fuzzy".
"If you search for longer than four minutes there's actually not that much out there," he frothed. "So let's not get carried away."
I don't know what Shaw's been watching but it hasn't been Netflix.
Netflix were too classy to respond to Shaw's fighting words but I'm not. I thought I'd put his preposterous hypothesis to the test.
During his little rant he made an estimate that of the 500 "great" titles that would be produced this year "maybe 12 of them will be on Netflix".
It was time for a top shows showdown. TVNZ vs Netflix. Mano-a-mano.
To make it as fair a fight as possible I opened both TVNZ OnDemand and Netflix in my browser and gave myself Shaw's allocated four minutes on each site to find 12 shows worth watching. I treated the exercise like I was looking for something to watch right now, as opposed to looking solely at their premium titles. This instantly ruled out a lot of Netflix's big name shows because I've already watched them, and it ruled out a lot of TVNZ's reality dreck because I would never watch them. This left both sites somewhere near the middle of the road.
Shaw's four-minute time limit is best described as an act of self-harm. OnDemand is not set up for fast browsing. The homepage highlights four shows in each genre, there's no hover info, and you have to click through to a new page to see the full selection of titles. This ate up precious seconds as pages loaded. I gave TVNZ a sneaky advantage by opening these in new tabs but even that didn't help much. After four minutes I had just seven shows to watch. And a couple of those were just there to make up the numbers.
Their film selection was dross, as were most dramas. My list was solely comedies and the Batman prequel Gotham. TVNZ's big win, however, is detailed in their name. The local content is plentiful. Indeed, four of my seven shows were homegrown; Radar Across the Pacific, Rhys Darby's Short Poppies series, the Terry Teo episodes I didn't finish last year and new chat show Banter.
How did Netflix get on? With its easy nav, slideshow menus and pop-up synopses it was a lot quicker to browse. In four minutes I had 14 things on my list, double TVNZ's amount, with a superior and more diverse mix.
There were comedies (Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust, Glow), drama (13 Reasons Why), and an action series (Fauda). I jotted down a couple of classic films (The Terminator, Jaws) that I'd happily watch again right now and the raved about new movie Okja. I had a superhero cartoon (Ultimate Avengers: The Movie) and the political documentary Get Me Roger Stone.
At the risk of sounding like I'm overhyping it, Netflix trounced OnDemand. Wasn't even a fair fight. The four-minute challenge an absolute king hit to OnDemand and Shaw's nonsense argument.
Sounding punch drunk Shaw implored us to "not get seduced by the fact that Netflix is a ubiquitously available service at a reasonable price". I don't know about you but I'm sold because that, friends, is a helluva sales pitch.
I'm never gonna choose to watch Filthy Rich over Fargo or Survivor New Zealand over the Judd Apatow-produced dramedy Love, the quality difference is vast.
Still, you have to admire Shaw's moxie and the fact he's not going down without a fight.
TVNZ does possess a few advantages; it's free versus around $180 a year for Netflix, the abundance of local content across many genres, and the appearance of sports like NBA, an area Netflix has conceded.
TVNZ have some good stuff in the pipeline as well; Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's upcoming comedy series Paranormal Response Unit being the most anticipated.
New Zealanders need a place for our stories to be told and our state broadcaster is absolutely the right platform. So I'm glad the comparatively little Kiwi battler isn't throwing in the towel. But pick your battles, TVNZ, and do us all a favour by reining in the trash talk, eh.
Below are the two lists compiled during the 4-minute challenge.
Radar Across the Pacific
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
Stephen King's A Good Marriage
Marvel's Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
Fargo - (series)
13 Reasons Why
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt