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Will you pay for TVNZ content?

11 May 2021

Apparently TVNZ is trying to do a Netflix on us.

The government-owned broadcaster has stated that it is planning to launch an ad-free subscription-based streaming service, perhaps even before the end of the year.

In a market that is already awash with ad-free subscription-based streaming services one would have to wonder why they'd even think of doing this.

Has the advertising market really dried up to such an extent that the current "OnDemand" service isn't making a profit?

Is this a step towards a possible future where free-to-air broadcast TV no longer exists, at least for the state broadcaster?

Certainly there is a degree of "be there or be square" involved in this decision, as Net-based VOD streaming seems to be the medium of the future.

One can only wonder whether such a service will be any more successful than the current TVNZ offerings, especially when you look at the degree of competition they will be facing.

Certainly TVNZ can't hope to compete against Netflix when it comes to the range of content they'll offer and with SkyTV already carving out its niche, perhaps the best that can be expected is "also ran" status from the state-owned broadcaster.

Do we really need another subscription based service?

Aren't we already tired of signing up for yet another monthly fee on top of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Neon and the raft of others all touting for our automatic debits or credit card numbers?

If they go ahead with this subscription-based service, what will that mean for users of the current ad-funded one? Can they expect to see a significant increase in the numbers and frequencies of ads -- both as a way to hike revenues and a method for pushing people into a monthly ad-free subscription?

It strikes me that the average Kiwi is becoming a lot more discerning in their viewing habits and the days when we all plonked our backsides on the sofa in front of the TV set at 6pm and, the occasional comfort break notwithstanding, remained there until bed-time, have gone. There is now such a huge range of entertainment options available that I think TVNZ will have an uphill battle convincing Kiwis to part with another $10-$20 a month just to watch their content online without ads.

To be fair however, I have to admit that I haven't watched a single second of state-funded TV content in almost 15 years so perhaps it has improved significantly since then. Maybe a reader can enlighten me and others who may similarly have abandoned the dross that was FTA TV a decade and a half ago.

The annoying thing about this move by TVNZ is that it will likely lock up more content, such that certain series or sporting events will not be available to the more mainstream content streaming services. You can be pretty sure that those very few bits of premium content and sports will be held back from the ad-funded streaming service for just long enough to force folk into a subscription.

To be honest, I'm starting to watch less and less video media these days -- and that includes YouTube. The intolerable levels of advertising and the ever-worsening signal to noise ratio simply does not provide an adequate return on the time invested.

I wonder what the next "big thing" will be when others also tire of the relentless flow of dross and advertising that the video medium has become. Any thoughts?

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