The New Zealand Herald

Sky must be laughing as TVNZ look to be well off pace with viewers

- Chris Rattue comment

Be careful what you wish for. TVNZ had a golden chance to strike a blow for free-to-air sports coverage at the Commonweal­th Games. Five days in, they’ve just about knocked themselves into oblivion.

There are people who are seriously pissed off with TVNZ. Free coverage was never going to rule again, but done well it can have a significan­t place in the new order, satisfying a bulk audience and even keeping a sport like rugby in better contact with the masses.

But people at under-fire subscriber sports giant Sky TV will be leaping with optimism over TVNZ’s Gold Coast coverage and public response. Their share price might even be leaping.

I was a big critic of Sky TV’s packages, which were inflexible and became comparativ­ely expensive in the rapidly changing media landscape.

But Sky’s one-stop-shop is actually

There are a lot of people who still see their computer as an advanced encycloped­ia and a stream as something with water in it.

very impressive if they can sort out their billing policies, which they have started to do.

From the moment TVNZ started hitting viewers with massive slabs of adverts during the Gold Coast events, it was time to think again.

TVNZ is now being hit with criticism over the decision to stream Kiwi gold medal attempts over the internet when lesser contests, some not even involving New Zealanders, are on their traditiona­l channels.

For example: A colleague who was desperate to watch Joelle King go for gold in squash was apoplectic. With the match being streamed, and not

wanting to watch it on a little phone screen, he initially went to bed with the radio commentary on. (TVNZ decided to show only the final stages of the clash between King and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry on air).

His response is typical about the coverage, it seems.

Maybe all the techno boffins at TVNZ are out of step with middle New Zealand on that one. There are a lot of people who still see their computer as an advanced encycloped­ia and a stream as something with water in it.

Not everyone is a natural when it comes to linking the internet with their big TV monitor.

I have some sympathy with TVNZ on this one, because streaming is the way of the future. But in New Zealand for now, technology and knowledge haven’t quite hit the point where streaming can be regarded as mainstream.

Sports broadcaste­rs face huge challenges, one of them being that many of the so-called millennial­s regard it as normal to get virtually everything for free off the internet.

Sky have tried to address the cost issue with a fairly decent price reduction if you are prepared to cut the basic package in half. And subscriber­s who do stay on the old package now get the excellent Soho channel for “free”.

In other words, Sky have responded and will also soon have a new boss for a new era.

Ironically, it is suddenly TVNZ which looks out of date, flooding the coverage with advertisem­ents for an audience used to watching a wide range of major sport largely uninterrup­ted. Sky, sensibly, prefer to bombard viewers with advertisem­ents at other times.

A lot of those advertisem­ents on Sky are about Sky. The best advertisem­ent for Sky Sports coverage right now is TVNZ.

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