Wake Up And Smell The Streaming Coffee, TVNZ

July 5, 2017
3 mins read

TVNZ reckons Netflix has limited content choice. And incredulous PAT PILCHER replies to Andrew Shaw’s eccentric tirade.









UPDATE: TVNZ were swift to respond after Witchdoctor reported on Andy Shaw’s comments around streaming services. TVNZ’s GM of corporate communications, Georgie Hills, was quick to reassure the Witchdoctor team that TVNZ see streaming as a significant part of their future. Here’s her response:

“I read your piece on Witchdoctor following on from the Netflix comments reported in Stuff today.

“Lest there be any doubt: We are smelling the streaming coffee!

“TVNZ has been streaming content for more than a decade and we believe it’s a big part of our future which is why the revamped TVNZ.co.nz now live streams all our channels together with our popular OnDemand offering.”

Here’s what all the fuss was about:


According to Stuff.co.nz, TVNZ’s deputy director of content, Andy Shaw, has said that he considers streaming video on demand services a fad.

Wake up and smell the coffee, Andy.

Streaming media is here and it leaves pretty much anything on offer from TVNZ for dead.

While the newly wed and nearly dead are occupying their viewing time with broadcast TV, our state broadcaster has probably already lost many tech savvy viewers, most of whom had set up a VPN and were streaming content from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia some time ago.

Shaw also said that Netflix was overhyped “…it’s a brand that is over-hyped by the media and frankly if you search for longer than four minutes there’s actually not that much out there. So let’s not get carried away.”

Shaw and his cronies seem to have forgotten that they are still a state broadcaster, and as such should be airing NZ-made content that reflects New Zealand’s culture. In effect, they are supposed to be the voice of New Zealand.

Sadly, they should be named TV Auckland. While Wellington still gets the odd mention in the news, that’s only politics. Take that out of the picture and there’s not much left that isn’t Auckland.

Still, none of this seems to matter to Shaw, who was quoted as saying: “There’s great drama and great comedy being produced across the world, 500 titles this year possibly… Maybe 12 of them will be on Netflix.”

Hate to tell you this Andy, but in my books that’s 12 more than TVNZ has made.

When the high point of locally made drama consists of Shortland St, you know we’re in trouble. TVNZ, TV3 ands Sky are all obsessively burning vast piles of cash buying exclusivity rights for offshore content, while locally made content is dying.

TVNZ’s Andrew Shaw

Several years ago, I produced in-store videos for Dick Smith Electronics. Every 3-4 months I’d get tenders from video production companies to film the next in-store clip. Each time I went to tender there were fewer and fewer video production companies. I dread to think how few (if any) are left nowadays.

Wouldn’t it simply be smarter to produce some quality content locally that wasn’t trashy reality garbage or yet another yawn-inducing and over-earnest current affairs show (of which we have far too many already?) I wont even mention somnambulistic documentaries.

Shaw’s ill-thought-through outburst might make TVNZ staffers feel a little better about the woeful state of TV in New Zealand, but as the old saying goes, don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house. TVNZ are clearly in sad shape, and the stampede online to streamed content is well underway.

As for Netflix NZ, Shaw is ignoring several very important considerations.

First and foremost, Netflix already stream HDR-encoded UHD content. If you’ve just invested a tonne of cash on a new HDR 4K capable TV, it’s a logical move to look for content that’ll show off your new TV capabilities. TVNZ use the superb Freeview platform, but 4K telly it ain’t.

The other thing is that Netflix isn’t the only streaming game in town: there’s Quickflix, Lightbox, Neon, Apple’s iTunes Movies, Google Movies, Amazon Prime and YouTube. This doesn’t take peer to peer file downloading into account, or the massive number of offshore streaming services available to anyone with a VPN and a little patience.

Next is content. While Shaw is right that Netflix NZ’s content is thin compared to its American master, savvy viewers are using DNS tools and VPNs to stream content directly from offshore. Netflix also operate an economy of scale that most TV networks can only dream of. This sees Netflix producing a lot of top rated content. TVNZ could talk up Netflix’s lack of locally made shows, but the reality is that TVNZ still won’t look too crash hot by comparison.

Clearly Shaw and other TV execs need to stop obsessing about platforms and start looking at content and their role as a state broadcaster. Having paid a bucketload of money for offshore content, the reality is that most savvy viewers have already seen it months ago online. What we need from our own broadcasters is less locally made cringe-inducing garbage, and an emphasis on local content.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

1 Comment

  1. TVNZ says it’s been streaming for decades, but fails to mention how clunky and useless its OnDemand service has been: Third World-type drop-outs during ad breaks, regular freezing and reloading issues, not being able to pick up on a programme where you leave off, etc. By comparison, Netflix is a breeze and so intuitive to watch. But Andy’s key contention that Netflix is lacking content is surely silly. As a fan of good drama, I can’t find anything on TVNZ I want to watch. By contrast, I’m overwhelmed with choice of quality drama on Netflix, Lightbox, etc. I’m not saying that there aren’t issues with the streaming services. As usual, NZ is let-down by a more limited choice than their international versions, but this is also true of NZ iTunes, etc. I look forward to finding out if TVNZ’s new live internet TV service is a step-up on its previous offering, but won’t be watching it much unless they improve their programming.

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