Switching over and switching off colour boxes

The last analogue television broadcast switched to digital today, but a growing number of viewers couldn’t care less.

Thousands of cord cutters, as they are dubbed, are dumping the television in favour of their phones, tablets and computers.

Parents are among the vanguard of the digital revolution, making children’s shows like Peppa Pig a big hit on mobile devices.

Auckland woman Kim Davidson turned off her television six years ago and has never looked back.

“I really like not having a television because it means I don’t have ads. On television, it felt like ads were forced on you and I got fed up with that.”

Now she streams television online so she can fit the screen-time in with her lifestyle.

“I don’t have to get through Shortland St to watch Revenge,” she said. “More people are also realising you can watch TV online. People are definitely talking about it more.”

The average daily reach of television fell by 92,000 people over the past year, according to the latest Nielsen viewer figures. The number of people using televisions and average viewing time also dropped.

Meanwhile, the number of people tuning in to online television such as On Demand is sky rocketing.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the appeal is through all ages – the children’s cartoon Peppa Pig is a big hit online, especially on mobile devices.

“I imagine it’s because children can’t wait and parents need entertainment immediately on occasions.

“This makes it really easy.”

Viewership of TVNZ On Demand set a record in October with 4.7 million streams of TV shows.

Some television shows are also traversing the various screens. Actor Martin Henderson guest-starred in the television series Auckland Daze, which began exclusively online.

“There wasn’t the pressure of ratings. It was just for the web and it found an audience by being loyal to its own creative instincts,” he told the Star-Times.

The show has now made a successful switch to TV One after its popularity online. In another sign of the digital revolution, Nielsen announced people who watch television on computer, tablet and smartphone screens would soon be counted in ratings.

For some television viewers, they may have no choice but to join this digital revolution.

Analogue televisions in Auckland and the upper North Island were switched off at 2 this morning. The Government estimated up to 49,000 households could be left with a defunct television. Analogue televisions can be made digital by using a set-top box like Freeview.

Ad Feedback

The South Island and lower North Island made the switch to digital television earlier this year.


1973: Colour television broadcasts begin. A 26-inch colour TV set cost about $840 in the mid-1970s. In today’s terms, that’s about $7500.

1990: Pay television arrives. Sky TV starts broadcasting an ultra-high frequency network to some regions in May 1990.

2002: The old-style CRT colour television sets become dated. Flat-screen televisions are so popular they are now tracked in the consumer price index (CPI).

2004: LCD television sets cost about $3500 on average.

2007: On Demand television arrives.

2008: Freeview arrives. The old televisions are cut from the CPI, and free-to-air digital television receivers make their entrance.

2013: In an end of an era for television in New Zealand, the last of the old analogue televisions are switched off to make way for digital television.

Source: Statistics NZ