Mouse that roared: TV fans go online

Remotes are being replaced by the mouse as Kiwis increasingly take control of their televisions.

More people are turning to on-demand television as they increasingly want to decide when and where they watch their favourite shows.

Figures made public by TVNZ yesterday show the state-owned broadcaster recorded a 78 per cent surge in OnDemand views in the past financial year, with 4.5 million average monthly views. That’s up from just 2.5m in 2012-13, and 1.4m in 2010-11.

The most popular online show was local drama Shortland Street, followed by Australian soap Home and Away, while talent show New Zealand’s Got Talent and One News were the most-viewed among people sticking to traditional television screenings.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the figures reflected a changing environment where people were watching shows across a variety of screen types.

“People are watching a hell of a lot more TV shows, they’re just not so concerned about TV as a box.”

That was exemplified during the America’s Cup, when on race days the first race would mainly be watched on television sets, but then the second and third races saw more people watching on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones as people headed into work.

People wanted the ability to choose when they watched favourite shows, he said. The challenge now was to make sure people could watch on demand content on their larger screens.

“People tend to want to watch things on the biggest screen that’s available.”

There was also a need to respond to demand for content to avoid people pirating, which meant more and more shows would be put directly online and screened later on television to give people a choice of when they watched it.

That also meant TVNZ was buying more shows with both on air and online screening rights, he said. “Ultimately it’s all about choice . . . The future for our business is all about being first and fast with the new content.”

Mediaworks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said its TV3 and Four networks had also seen “excellent growth” with their on demand service, with 300,000 downloads of their 3NOW App in the past six months.

Wellington web developer Raquel Moss watches television only on demand.

The 23-year-old said the digital switch-over last year was a driving factor, because she did not want to pay for a dish for the digital system in a rental property. She mainly streamed current affairs programmes, and particularly enjoyed being able to live stream and participate in events such as Thursday’s election leaders’ debate despite not having a television.

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The freedom of on demand was another bonus, she said.

“It’s great being able to catch up later . . . I can just watch it whenever, I don’t have to be sitting down.”

The only downside was it took up a lot of bandwidth, she said.

Kenrick said it was increasingly common for homes – particularly flats – to not have televisions, and people to watch shows on laptops or tablets.

There would be a shift towards more one-on-one advertising, with registrations for online content likely later this year, allowing advertising to be personalised to people’s tastes and profiles.

– The Dominion Post