A revamp of Maori Television's website has boosted its visitor numbers by 60 per cent in the past year as more New Zealanders living overseas tune in to its archive of local video content.
The broadcaster is not revealing visitor numbers but says the site has been accessed from 188 countries and attributes the strong growth in interest to a slick new design and the 300 hours of programming it now has available for viewing online.
Online manager Sandy Hodge says the number of visitors viewing the site from Australia has trebled and now accounts for 20 per cent of the total audience. Overall, visitors to the site are staying three times longer than before the revamp and are viewing more pages.
The site's growth in traffic has happened despite the constraints of a tight budget and the limitations of having the equivalent of only 2 fulltime staff working to keep content updated.
"When Maori Television started [in 2003] we had a pretty static website, and while it did the business in terms of allowing visitors to find information such as what was on the schedule, it didn't fit with the strategy the board had set which was to expand, enhance and internationalise [the broadcaster's reach]," says Hodge.
Maori Television says the amount spent revamping the duel-language site is commercially sensitive but it is a fraction of that spent by Television New Zealand on its online initiatives in recent years.
"What we've always said we'll do is work smarter, not harder - you don't need to spend as much money as everyone else has spent. So we looked at the way things were moving and we felt we could look at the website as an alternative broadcasting platform, first, to enhance and support what we do in New Zealand, and then expand our audience reach to those expat communities offshore," says Hodge.
The small size of the broadcaster's online team and its tight budget have led to some innovative approaches when it comes to improving the site. Hodge says her 7-year-old twins have been used as guinea pigs to test the site's usability.
As well as providing a computer-savvy "digital native" generation's view of mum's works, one twin is left-handed and the other right-handed, so they bring slightly different perspectives to how easy the site is to navigate.
"If the twins can work it out I knew the navigation was okay," Hodge says.
Maori Television plans to expand the site further over the next couple of years by adding more news content, aiming to become a "one-stop-shop" for visitors - locally and internationally - seeking Maori-focused news and information.
Hodge believes adding more news content will help drive visitor numbers even higher.
"The challenge for us will be making that [news content] accessible and usable."
No doubt the twins will be called on from time to time to assess progress.
GROWING FAN BASE
Top five locations of Maori Television's website visitors
1 New Zealand
ON THE WEB