Viewers are ditching large, high-definition televisions in favour of smartphone, tablets and personal computers screens and they are using them to watch soaps.
Kiwi broadband users chewed through 50 per cent more data in June than they did in the same month last year, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand figures, when average monthly usage rose from 15 gigabytes to 23GB.
Statistics manager Hamish Hill said that was enough to stream HD videos for about an hour each day "and still have some to spare".
"As a country, this means we are now consuming about 41,000 terrabytes (TB) a month compared with 26,000TB in 2012. This is equivalent to downloading all of the data held by Google maps twice in a month."
TVNZ Ondemand has grown by 37 per cent, according to product manager Richard Beniston.
"Shortland Street and Home and Away are usually our biggest rating shows online," he said.
"We just did a record-breaking month in September with 4.5 million videos viewed."
He put some of the growth down to this year's launch of TVNZ Ondemand apps for smartphones and tablets, which claimed a third of viewers.
TVNZ has produced a data calculator to help people keep tabs on their data usage.
Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Brislen said Kiwis were buying larger data blocks to allow themselves the freedom of using the internet without worrying about data limits.
"Data caps are really quite crippling in New Zealand," Mr Brislen said.
He said Kiwis learning how to access more content was one of the reasons we were using more data nationwide, along with internet piracy.
Watching programmes online or downloading them was easier and more convenient, he said.
"It's easier to download something than to figure out how to set your recorder."
Mr Brislen said New Zealand was far behind other countries when it came to internet plans.
"We should not have data caps at all. What you want is just to pay for what you use. We should be talking about cents per gig, not dollars per gig."
People were so nervous about hitting their data limit that they did not enjoy their internet as much as they should, he said.
"We are so used to paying through the nose that people still treat it as a scare resource."
Wintec student Logan Brown lives with his parents and his house is on a 30GB-a-month data plan that they switched to only last year after spending around six years on a 10GB plan.
It was only once the 21-year-old Hamiltonian bought a laptop at the start of 2012 that they started going over their data limit.
"Now that we're on 30GB, we hardly ever go over," Mr Brown said.
"We'll be likely to use 15 or 16GB a month."
He thought it would be fair for internet providers to charge per gigabyte used, as they were paying full price for a block of data they only used half of.
"I think that's quite a good idea," he said.
"If you're in a flatting situation, you can easily divvy that up."
- © Fairfax NZ News