TVNZ’s on-demand ambitions have taken a quantum leap forward with this evening’s announcement it’s acquired the first Doctor Who series to star a female Time Lord.

The broadcaster has yet to confirm which channel season 11 will screen on but says it will stream episodes at the same time they appear on the BBC’s iPlayer.

This will further drive traffic to a platform that TVNZ’s been beefing up with significantly more premieres, many of which will remain exclusive to TVNZ OnDemand.

It’s not clear yet if the coup includes Doctor Who’s back catalogue adventures but it is a stand-alone deal — meaning the BBC isn’t tagging the sale with a bundle of lesser series that TVNZ’s obliged to run.

And if earlier seasons are part of the deal, then it could be a potential goldmine for TVNZO

UPDATE: TVNZ has confirmed it has rights to only season 11.

It’s been 22 years since Doctor Who aired on TVNZ. Prime has been the show’s home since its new-millennium reboot but despite often airing it within hours or days of the UK, the ratings have never rewarded the investment.

Another BBC series that Prime may have lost is The Durrells. It’s screened only one of three seasons and the BBC is in talks with other broadcasters about where subsequent seasons may screen.

Also on the open market is A Very English Scandal, the highly acclaimed BBC dramatisation of British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe’s downfall.

Here’s the full press release:

The Doctor is coming … Back to TVNZ

Doctor Who is returning to TVNZ after a 22-year absence.

The iconic BBC programme, which last appeared on TVNZ channels in 1996, is returning in time for the Thirteenth Doctor’s appearance. The highly anticipated eleventh season casts Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch, Trust Me) as the recently regenerated, time-travelling extra-terrestrial known as The Doctor – the first woman to occupy the legendary role.

TVNZ Director of Content, Cate Slater, says: “Doctor Who has a special place in popular culture. It’s a global juggernaut with a faithful following. This upcoming season marks the beginning of a new era for the extraordinary Time Lord, with the first ever female Doctor at the helm of the TARDIS.

“The time felt right to bring the series back to TVNZ. We can’t wait to share all the action, adventure and humour the show is known and loved for with our viewers, as well as the exciting new twists and turns that are coming their way.”

The announcement of the programme’s return to TVNZ was teased to viewers with a new 40-second promo released earlier today in the UK appearing simultaneously across TVNZ 1 and TVNZ 2 shortly before the evening’s 6pm programming. The promo, now available to stream at TVNZ OnDemand, showcased the new Doctor and her friends.

The new season of Doctor Who features ten 50-minute episodes, including a feature-length opening episode. TVNZ will stream episodes on TVNZ OnDemand immediately following the UK broadcast (at the same time episodes appear on BBC iPlayer), allowing New Zealand fans to engage in worldwide discussions on the show without the fear of spoilers.

Episodes will also play on broadcast TV the same week as the UK. Further details confirming the channel, day and date will be released closer to the season’s premiere.

Irene Read, Director of Content Sales for BBC Studios in Australia and New Zealand, says: “We’re delighted that Doctor Who is returning to its original New Zealand home, with TVNZ being an excellent partner to join us for the new era of The Doctor.”

Doctor Who is a BBC Studios production.

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