Kiwis want more NZ-made content, but not ads - research

Kiwis want more New Zealand-made content to watch, but don't want to watch the ads that would fund it, new research has found.

When it launched 30 years ago - the same year as Three first hit the airwaves - NZ On Air commissioned research into our viewing habits and tastes. To mark the end of its third decade, NZ On Air did a similar survey to see how we've changed.

"The core values of New Zealand haven't changed, which is really weird," chief executive Jane Wrightson told The AM Show on Thursday.

"The population has changed 50 percent, aged a bit, way more multicultural than we were, obviously. But we still see ourselves as friendly, genuine and straight-up. 

"That was the thing that surprised me the most - that's almost gong back to Barry Crump days, isn't it? But it's still there."

The media landscape has changed irrevocably since 1989. Linear TV is now largely just for "older people, no question", Wrightson says, while Generations Y and Z watch the same stuff, but "all over the place, all the time - but on devices at the time that they want to do it, and where it is".

"Linear is hard... linear of course is the bread-and-butter of New Zealand media. But the extension of services to online, on-demand, doing things like podcasts - the same content but in different forms is the trick."

Nearly three-quarters of people surveyed said there were too many ad breaks. The older the viewer, the less likely they were happy with the sheer number of commercials on free-to-air TV nowadays. Separate research commissioned by the Better Public Media Trust, which wants a public service television channel like they have in the UK, found 60 percent of Kiwis want TVNZ1 to go commercial-free.

"But what's really unclear is how they think they want to pay for it," said Wrightson. 

"I don't think [they realise the cost]. It depends what it is. If it's a BBC One, you're talking about a quarter-of-a-billion pounds; generally speaking the Government doesn't have that sort of money available."

The previous Labour-led Government did set up an ad-free TV channel, TVNZ7, which was scrapped in 2012 after then-broadcasting minister Jonathan Coleman pulled its funding. 

The NZ On Air research also found many young people - 38 percent of teens and 34 percent of people in their early 20s) don't think enough local content is being made which appeals to them. About half admitted they weren't even aware of what it was available.

"They're not as aware of local content as we would like, and that has always been the case," said Wrightson.

"We've always had a deluge of global content in New Zealand... that's increased because 30 years ago there wasn't a thing called the internet, streaming services, all that stuff. The challenge for agencies like NZ On Air and content creators and broadcasters is to try and find audiences in a better way. 

"The hardest audiences to find are young ones - they're always really annoying. When I was young, all I watched was Radio with Pictures and absolutely nothing else - I'm hoping things change."

Making content available without ads was consistently cited as the number one factor that would encourage people to watch more New Zealand-made content.