TVNZ promise game-changing apps

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 18:30 14/11/2012
Arrow

ON DEMAND: Overseas-made productions like Arrow, based on DC Comics' Green Arrow character, should be available on TVNZ's new On Demand app.

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Television New Zealand is set to launch game-changing iPhone, iPad, android and Smart TV applications for its online video channel in the new year.

Until now accessing prime-time free-to-air video content "on-demand" in New Zealand has been restricted to home computers and laptop devices.

While using TVNZ On Demand had proved popular for viewers who wanted to "catch-up" on a show that they had missed when it was originally broadcast, people increasingly wanted flexibility in where and when they watched their favourite content, said TVNZ's general manager of digital media Tom Cotter.

In the same five-year period that On Demand had been available, the use of Apple and Android-powered mobile devices had exploded, he said.

TVNZ estimates almost 50 per cent of New Zealanders now have smartphones and 12 per cent of those owners stream video at least once a day, according to a 2011 study by research company TNS.

Average weekly stream views on TVNZ's On Demand service were up 42 per cent for the 2012 year to date over 2011, but allowing Apple users in particular to access the online content was expected to bolster the service's use significantly in 2013.

The long wait for an On Demand app was due to the technical task of building a more powerful application capable of streaming standard definition video at a speed of over 1 megabits per second with a "buffering ratio" of less than 2 per cent, said Cotter.

The need to place territorial restrictions on programming content has also been a stumbling block, as international programme distributors look to protect the exclusive deals they do in each country.

The network has also announced new season line-ups for its TV One and TV2 channels this afternoon, including DC Comics super-hero adaptation Arrow and serial killer thriller The Following starring Kevin Bacon.

TVNZ's acting head of digital media, digital channels and licensing Thor Bayer said geographic restrictions on the apps would satisfy rights-holders requirements and the shows would be available under the kind of digital distribution agreements which were becoming standard between studios and broadcasters.

TVNZ has already developed apps for locally-produced shows such as My Kitchen Rules, New Zealand's Got Talent and Shortland Street for iPhone, as well as One News apps for both iPhone and iPad.

3 News has matched TVNZ in the app-battle with its own news & current affairs applications so far for the iOS platform.

However Bayer and TVNZ's general manager of digital media Tom Cotter said the state-owned broadcaster would be the first commercial broadcaster in Australasia to deliver video on demand for smartphones and tablets.

Australian networks ABC and SBS have apps but are non-commercial broadcasters and the Ten Network has an app with "a limited range of local content", said TVNZ.

TVNZ's On Demand app for the Samsung Smart TV is due to be up and running before Christmas while the iPhone and iPad apps would come on line in February, and Android devices would follow soon after.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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