TVNZ OnDemand Streaming to Improve But Still Not HD

Shortland Street’s Pua Magasiva

A day after Spark announced a year’s free Lightbox access for its broadband customers, TVNZ has unveiled a revamped ondemand service — but not one that includes HD streaming.

However, the broadcaster is promising better streaming quality by the end of March.

“Shortly after the release of our redesigned OD service we will offer an improved stream quality to our viewers across the majority of end points [streaming devices],” OnDemand general manager Jason Foden told Screenscribe.tv.

“Soon after that, we will be improving our source files to again increase quality.

“Further to this, we have plans to constantly improve streams ongoing.

“We understand Lightbox is belting out a high bit-rate stream which does offer good quality but can lead to some buffering and issues with viewers’ bandwidth.

“We are looking to provide comparable stream quality without taking the same path.

“While we may not use the label ‘HD’ when promoting our streams, the quality will be improving and will be comparable to our competitors.”

Another factor is HD costs more to deliver, which is why OnDemand last year used Shortland Street to trial HD streaming.

“With Shortland Street we didn’t have to negotiate HD rights so it was easier to run a trial,” Foden says.

“I’m not sure the trial was that meaningful at the time we ran it as most customers didn’t have a requirement for a higher quality experience than we provide given most are on desktop, mobile and tablet.

“We do need to ensure we get our device detection right so a mobile user doesn’t get a stream that drives excess data usage.

“It’s something we manage well today on different platforms as a concern has been how much data consumers are using – fortunately, this concern is diminishing as caps get lifted by ISPs and mobile carriers.”

TVNZ OnDemand will relaunch in February with a new interface and the ability to personalise and optimise viewing, including create watchlists, marking favourite shows and exclusive content, getting recommendations, and being first to know when the latest shows are about to drop.

“For us it’s not just about keeping up with our viewers, but staying ahead of the game, and these new personalised features will bring much more individual control to the viewing experience,” Foden says.

TVNZ says there also will be a NZ first: a ‘Pick Up and Play’ feature where viewers can start watching a programme and pick it up later on their smartphone, laptop or tablet where they left off.

TVNZ OnDemand hit a high in October, with 6.3 million streams, while December 2014’s were up 52% year-on-year.

TVNZ has been using its service to express-from-the-US ahead of their free-to-air runs series like Criminal Minds, Mike & Molly, Resurrection, The Mentalist (the final season), Person of Interest, Once Upon a Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, The 100, The Vampire Diaries, Red Band Society, The Last Ship, Constantine, Black-ish and Selfie.

In September, OnDemand notched up a million streams for seasons one and two of Orange Is The New Black.

“We’re committed to premiering more content across our TV and online channels, as it’s receiving a huge response from our viewers, and lets them join a global conversation,” Foden says.

“Viewers have responded very well to having the shows they love available directly after they air in the US. Premiering has been hugely successful but the two big hitters of the OnDemand world continue to be Shortland Street and Home and Away, which are catch-up only.

“Viewers love their serialised drama. Shortland Street was briefly knocked of the number one spot by Orange Is The New Black but is a consistent performer.”

Upcoming TVNZ OnDemand premieres include iZombie, One Big Happy, American Crime and new seasons of Castle and The Following.

Pre-registration for the new site is now open at: www.tvnz.co.nz/pre-register.

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3 Responses to “TVNZ OnDemand Streaming to Improve But Still Not HD”

  1. A complete let down. Why can’t streamers have the option of HD? Aside from that, the new redesign sounds good and I’m glad iZombie is coming soon.

  2. No HD, not interested.

  3. ^ ditto !

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