More reality TV, less American drama and a commitment to local shows and sport — they're central planks of TVNZ's strategy to compete with the inexorable rise of international streaming services.
The network tonight released details of its new and returning shows for 2020 at an annual set piece involving a glitzy ceremony on Auckland's waterfront followed by a star-studded after-party.
Key plays include the first homegrown series of international franchise The Bachelorette — with the host revealed as former winner of The Bachelor, Art Green — Celebrity Kiwi Bake Off and the already-announced adaptation of Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries, which will also air on the BBC in the UK.
A continued focus on innovative local content is key to competing with overseas services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, which launches later this month.
"Our advantage is that we are a Kiwi service," says Director of Content Cate Slater.
"So we're able to cherry-pick what we think will work for a New Zealand audience, whereas the other globals are more focused on what's going to work for a global audience.
"We want to have the best compelling content selected and curated specifically for New Zealand."
Trends identified by Slater include Kiwi loyalty to event television, and a falling interest in mainstream US drama.
"The numbers for the Rugby World Cup were phenomenal, with 25 per cent of New Zealand tuning in for the New Zealand semifinal. So I think those trends will continue, with people wanting those big kind of TV events to rally around.
"The US network drama, which used to work a few years ago, has really fallen away and it's more that British style of drama that is really resonating for our audiences and local comedy."The opportunity to showcase Kiwi comedy talent continues with more of current affairs game show Have You Been Paying Attention, a third season and Christmas special for Wellington Paranormal, and a second season of On Demand secondary school-set favourite Educators. A partnership with The New Zealand Comedy Trust means Kiwis will bring more standup to our screens, says Slater.
TVNZ's partnership with Spark Sport, birthed during the Rugby World Cup, will continue with international T20 cricket and matches from the domestic Super Smash league. The network will also air the Paralympics and competitions building up to the Auckland-hosted 2021 America's Cup.
From Bachelor to Bachelorette
Art Green's announcement as host of the first series of The Bachelorette is the headline news in a deep line-up of reality TV shows.
The show will see a line-up of men trying to win the heart of an eligible, and still-to-be-revealed young woman.
"I'm absolutely stoked to be hosting The Bachelorette New Zealand," says Green, who is happily married to his Bachelor match Matilda Rice."It's going to be great to have a front row seat as our Bachelorette embarks on a journey to find love. I can't wait!"
Hosts Matt Chisholm and Bree Tomasel are returning to Fiji to find another winner of Celebrity Treasure Island . A new group of Castaways will battle it out for the $100,000 prize for their chosen charities. Time will tell if anyone can match the competitive nature of this year's winner Sam Wallace.
Another highlight is Eat Well For Less, like Glow Up a Kiwi take on a UK show.
Kiwi chefs Mike van de Elzen (The Food Truck) and Ganesh Raj (owner of The Tasting Shed and co-owner of The Maori Kitchen) will team up with dietician and nutritionist Angela Berrill to help a range of Kiwi families. The TVNZ 1 series will help Kiwi families from all walks of life eat well on a budget.
"We've got a little bit of love, a little bit of cooking and a little bit of stranded on a desert island," says Cate Slater. "It's wanting to all be part of the same conversation, it's watercooler currency."
Anika Moa is getting a second On Demand show, with the aim of reuniting her favourite bands. It follows the ending to her last show Anika Moa: Unleashed where she reunited girl band True Bliss.
Moa, who co-host the Hits drive show, told The Herald: "Musicians are so fascinating and this show will capture just how quirky we are."
Hits breakfast host and former Seven Sharp presenter Toni Street will be back on our screens, dipping her toes into the reality TV waters for a Celebrity Christmas special of Great Kiwi Bake Off.
"My fear is I might come across as the Sam Wallace of the bake off, which, you know, no one wants that," Street joked, referencing Hits breakfast co-host Sam Wallace's victory in this year's revived Celebrity Treasure Island.Street says the experience of the show, which had one day of filming, gave her a "newfound respect for bakers".
Her rivals at the oven include National MP Paula Bennett and former Art Green.
The number of streams through the On Demand platform surged from 100 million to 184 million in the 2018/19 financial year.
Several streaming only shows were announced, including a second series about Boss Babes Iyia Liu and Edna Stewart, House of Drag, the aforementioned Educators and Glow Up, a reality show about the quest for new make-up artist talent based on a hit UK format and hosted by ZM host Megan Papas.
"We've been investing in a lot of local and original content for On Demand, and it's been hugely successful for us," says Slater. "Six out of the top 10 titles on On Demand are local.
International On Demand shows include season three of Emmy-award winning Killing Eve and critically acclaimed Hulu drama Ramy.
Viewers are enjoying the nostalgia of US comedies Friends and Seinfeld too.
Slater doesn't deny local content is expensive to make.
"There's a lot of content that wouldn't see the light of day if it wasn't for New Zealand on Air or the funding agency Te Mangai Paho and the New Zealand Film Commission.Drama titles — largely noticeable by their absence — in particular are expensive: "The cost of making a local drama is about 100 times [more than] an international drama for us on a cost-per hour basis."
So while there's plenty of local content to sink your teeth into next year, it's reality TV-heavy for economic reasons.
"I think we've got an incredibly strong lineup coming to all our channels and platforms, and 2020 is going to be really exciting," says Slater.