Data from the team at Horizon Research has revealed which streaming services are winning the fierce battle for Kiwi eyeballs.
The results - based on a representative panel of 1047 New Zealanders - has TVNZ OnDemand at the top of the pile, reaching a total of 2.1 million Kiwis in 987,000 households.
Snapping at the heels of the state broadcaster is Netflix, which now commands an audience of two million viewers across 935,000 households.
The only other streaming players in the local market to reach more than a million New Zealanders are Sky TV and Three Now.
Similar research by Nielsen last year showed Netflix was reaching only 1.2 million Kiwis at that time, showing how quickly the platform has become a staple in many households.
Interestingly, the timing of arrival does not determine success in the streaming contest. Netflix launched in New Zealand in March 2015, arriving seven months after Spark's Lightbox service, but the local player sits well outside the million-viewer club with an audience of 636,000 viewers across 295,000 households.
Despite a huge marketing push and bundling Lightbox subscriptions with broadband services, Spark could offer little to match the international streaming giant, whose name has essentially become shorthand for streaming. What would Spark give for the sexual euphemism to be "Lightbox and chill", rather than the alternative?
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When it comes to subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, the viewership or even the household numbers are not indicative of the number of subscriptions, largely because many accounts are shared between friends and family members.
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So far, SVOD providers have been tentative about clamping down on this, for fear of alienating viewers, but Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters did recently say the company was monitoring the situation and "looking at some consumer-friendly ways to push at the edge of that". Whether that results in an eventual clampdown is yet to be seen.
But as the competition in entertainment streaming becomes ever more intense, with the likes of Amazon Prime and Hulu starting to pick up viewers in this country and Disney set to launch in November, there is certainly an incentive for providers to ensure that those using their platforms are paying for the privilege.
In light of the intensified competition, it comes as little surprise that Spark has shifted at least some of its attention to prying local sports content rights from the clutches of Sky TV.
In that battle, Sky remains well ahead of its ambitious telco competitor. Sky Sport's streaming service reaches 427,900 New Zealanders in 198,000 households as opposed to Spark Sport's tally of 194,200 viewers in 90,000 households.
The research did, however, indicate a larger reach for Spark Sport's Rugby World Cup offering, with 255,300 users spread across 118,200 households.
These figures are somewhat lower than the numbers Spark released on 9 October, when the company reported a total of 186,000 Spark Sport Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass subscriptions.
"The number of Tournament Pass holders has continued to grow throughout the tournament, with new subscriptions outweighing cancellations by a ratio of four to one since the New Zealand vs South Africa game on match day two," Spark said at the time.*
Spark Sport has built this audience rapidly off a low base, largely thanks to the Rugby World Cup – and its financial clout has certainly caught the attention of Sky.
However, keeping its growth ticking along will prove a major challenge for Spark Sport now that Sky has managed to pen a blockbuster deal with NZ Rugby. This essentially means that Spark has to look beyond New Zealand's favourite sport to continue bolstering its streaming audience.
Spark's coup in landing the New Zealand cricket rights will help to retain some of its audience, but this is in a different league to the Rugby World Cup. It's also worth noting that Sky has tied up many of the international All Blacks games – meaning that Kiwi fanatics now face the added frustration of having to sign up to multiple platforms to get access to all the games.
In 2018, Sky renewed its Rugby League rights for five years and the company also recently stitched up the Netball NZ rights – which safely puts another pair of tier 1 sports out of Spark's reach.
The telco does look intent on playing the longer game, though, and it will likely continue snapping up what it can around the edges to bolster its streaming service bit by bit. Every win that Spark claims does a little to undermine the notion that Sky is the "home of sport".
One of Spark's smartest longer-term moves lies in nabbing the rights to the Premier League, which, while still relatively niche, gives the company access to a sport with enormous growth potential – particularly as participation rates in cricket and rugby continue to slide.
No stream, no worries
One of the most surprising numbers to feature in the research was the fact that a total 550,000 New Zealanders - or around 15 per cent of the population older than 18 - still do not use any streaming services whatsoever.
This shows there is still a large contingent reliant on traditional broadcast TV for their evening entertainment.
As is to be expected, this group does lean to the older side, with 72 per cent of people who do not stream aged 55 and older.
With the future of MediaWorks TV left hanging in the balance, this substantial percentage of Kiwis could face having one of their options removed from their viewing experience.
The question is whether this will provide enough incentive for this half-million-strong group to finally embrace streaming.
*This comment from Spark was added after publication.