TV One appears to have adopted a "kamikaze programming" strategy by scheduling My Kitchen Rules to clash with TV3's The Block and diminishing the audiences for both, according to advertising consultant Martin Gillman.
Gillman said the clash of the two "event shows" was unprecedented.
Both were advertiser highlights of the 2014 schedule.
The decision to play MKR opposite The Block was aggressive programming.
He said that the long term aim of what he called "Kamikaze programming" was to damage the impact of The Block by splitting the audience while diminishing the MKR brand.
The approach would lead advertisers to be wary about investing in this type of programming in future, he said.
TVNZ has acknowledged that it planned the clash of the two big event shows to counter The Block, which made a big impact on TV ratings in 2013 and ate into TVNZ revenue.
"We made it clear last year that we gave it a free run and we would not do the same in 2014," said spokeswoman Georgie Hills.
Both formats face big audience losses this year compared to last. The audience has been split. Both networks could not comment on how the clash affected their return on investment, though sponsors with product placement pick up viewers through on demand services.
TVNZ has previously showed the Australian version of My Kitchen Rules, with strong results.
The 2014 season of twice weekly MKR was local but it would have cost more to make than it did buying the Australian show.
Despite the big loss of viewers Hills said that the broadcaster was "very happy" with its performance.
TV3 spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer acknowledged that the scheduling of MKR had an impact on ratings for The Block, which is currently into its seventh week running four times a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
However she said that when counting "on demand" online, the ratings had stood up for advertisers and sponsors.
"It's fair to say that TVNZ putting MKR New Zealand into Tuesday and Wednesday nights has made the time slot a lot more competitive, but The Block is winning the battle for audience," she said. "We're seeing big Video on demand streams this year as well."
Comparing year by year: in week six of the show in 2013, The Block NZ did a 31.7 per cent share of 25-54 on September 30.
This year The Block NZ did a 24 per cent share on the same date (also week six of the show).
TVNZ pointed to figures for the audience aged 25-54 that differed with TV3 estimates. Its figures from Nielsen TAM showed My KItchen Rules just 14000 lower than The Block.