Television viewers are likely to need to sign in with a username and password to watch TVNZ OnDemand and One News online from later this year.
Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the registration requirement would let Television New Zealand provide a more “personalised” service for viewers, but acknowledged it could also be a money-spinner.
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It would help TVNZ better target more relevant advertisements to viewers and could pave the way for it to introduce online programming that viewers would need to pay a subscription fee to watch, he said.
Coalition for Better Broadcasting chief executive Myles Thomas described the plan as a bolt from the blue and said the lobby group believed it was a sign TVNZ might be readying itself for privatisation after the election.
“Setting up a log-in is clearly a step in the direction of becoming more commercial, and the problem with it is they are just creating another barrier for New Zealanders to access our content,” he said.
Kenrick said the registration requirement would have spin-offs for viewers.
It would mean they would be able to stop watching a show on one device and resume viewing it at the same point on another.
It would also let TVNZ create personalised watchlists, viewing recommendations and alerts, he said.
Making usernames and passwords mandatory was probably the “cleanest” approach.
“If you have got too many options you make it too confusing,” he said.
“Whether it is music streaming services or video services, a rudimentary form of registration is pretty common these days.”
TVNZ said more than a million programmes a week were being viewed online through TVNZ OnDemand, up 78 per cent on a year ago, with online advertising revenue up 30 per cent.
“Online revenue is currently a modest component of total revenue, but it’s a major driver of future growth,” Kenrick said.
The broadcaster today reported a 25 per cent increase in its net profit to $18 million, which was achieved despite a 0.4 per cent drop in revenues to $361m, thanks to belt-tightening and asset sales.
Sky Television last week reported a 22 per cent jump in its annual profit to $161m, thanks largely to lower programming costs, price rises and a 1.1 per cent rise in subscriber numbers which grew at a slightly slower pace than New Zealand’s population.