Will TVNZ Hit a Homer Run With Fox Coup?

If revenge is a dish best served cold, TVNZ’s snapping up of key Fox hits from MediaWorks couldn’t be sweeter.

The deal covers the six-part X-Files revival (which will go to air in the last week of January), 20 remastered episodes culled from the show’s original run, and the latest seasons of The Simpsons and Family Guy.

It’s not clear if the pact includes new Fox ‘toons like Bordertown, which premieres this weekend in the US, or how deep will be the library for The Simpsons and Family Guy.

But expect it to cover enough back-catalogue episodes of The Simpsons for TV2 to refresh its early evening weeknight strip with a 6pm successor to Friends.

No doubt the ‘toon’s 27th season will premiere in a Sunday evening slot to help rejuvenate a zone where TV2 has uncharacteristically struggled for the past year.

Chances are it will be sandwiched between The Muppets and Family Guy, with the more adult episodes of the latter reserved for a later slot (as TV3 did when it briefly paired the two) — although TV2 may save the series to try to challenge 7 Days’ 9.30 Friday supremacy.

The Fox deal is a gratifying coup for TVNZ given MediaWorks poached The Simpsons from TV2 in the late ’90s, when it snared an output deal with Fox.

When it was forced to relinquish this two years ago because of fall-out from the global financial crisis, The Simpsons and Family Guy were among the few Fox shows it retained — only to then undermine their potential by switching them back-and-forth from TV3 to TV4, and in and out of different time slots.

“MediaWorks could learn from [Sky/Prime’s] Karen Belieski about how to build an audience through fine tuning and not moving things around in a dramatic fashion,” veteran media buyer, John Dee, of JDee Media, says.

He believes losing The Simpsons will be a “major loss” for MediaWorks. “It rates well on Four, thus attracting advertising dollars.”

While TVNZ’s Fox acquisitions date back to the 1990s, “they are not necessarily spent properties and could build some audience for TV2,” Dee says.

“But I suspect with a younger viewing audience on TV2, the challenge is this audience is the most likely group to embrace non-traditional TV viewing options.”

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18 Responses to “Will TVNZ Hit a Homer Run With Fox Coup?”

  1. I hope they are a ratings disaster for TVNZ. SO there :)

  2. Gosh, Trevor, what’s TVNZ ever done to you?

  3. Great article, Phil. Ideally the catalogue for both will go right back to the start. Seasons 1-3 of The Simpsons haven’t been shown on NZ TV for many a year and if they went right back to the start that would be a nice selling point.

  4. Yes, Trevor. Not very nice of you. As someone who was at TVNZ at the time I can tell you it was a blow losing The Simpsons. TVNZ have simply taken an opportunity to get the show back.

  5. Thanks for the context, Brian, and for your comments, Clint. I agree seeing vintage Simpsons after so long would be a point of difference but believe TV2 will want to focus on the HD seasons, from midway through the 20th. The SD quality of the 25-year-old eps would look shabby in primetime and I imagine Sky probably has the rights to many of the earlier seasons for perpetually re-running on The Box, where the compression is so bad that PQ issues scarcely matter.

  6. This deal for me signals the end of Four’s viability as a channel. What is MediaWorks plan for Four this year and what programming have they managed to secure for its future? Without a new season launch last year it remains unclear if MediaWorks will invest in Four or just load it up with repeats from TV3. The end of key shows from there former CBS deal and the end of some of its Fox properties leaves holes in the schedule. Also, with a new year, going HD can’t be as expensive as, say, five years ago. Happy late new year, Philip. Looking forward to more great posts for 2016 and hopefully more ratings analysis after the demise of Throng.

  7. Bit of an error in the article, The Simpsons moved from TVNZ to MediaWorks in 2002 or 2003. It definitely wasn’t in the ’90s since there was a block for awhile named “Super Saturdays” that consisted of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Smallville and The Simpsons. Smallville didn’t even premiere in NZ until at least 2002, so yeah… MISTAKE! :P

  8. I happen to agree with Tony on this, give TVNZ a chance. They will deliver. They have way better content than last year, don’t you think, Phil?

  9. Friends is getting very old, why don’t we get some thing else to succeed our soaps?

  10. You may be right, Brad. I’ve checked with the former TV2 programmers running the network when it lost the Fox deal and neither can confirm which side of the millennium it happened.

  11. Not a biggie, but it was 2004. TV3 played numerous trailers over summer promoting they had the rights and incorporating the fact they were showing every episode. I recall TV2 burning off some episodes at 2-3am in the morning once it started on TV3, presumably to fulfil some rights obligations or to try and tarnish TV3’s acquisition. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=3546699

  12. D’oh!!!! But thanks for clearing it up, Clint.

  13. Yes I remember when TV3 cheekily had removal men take The Simpsons away from TVNZ’s HQ to help promote the move. Those were better times for TV3. This older Herald article details the non-exclusive Fox arrangement that TVNZ and MediaWorks had before TV3 gained an exclusive output deal.

  14. Oh, I just get fed up with how TVNZ gloat when they pinch shows off TV3, it’s annoying :(

  15. Trevor, they are rivals and this is what they do for better ratings. Just go with the flow, just see what will unfold between both channels. Who knows — TV3 may pinch something from TVNZ and hey, it’s 2016, so get with it.

  16. I used to think only TV3 could flog a dead horse, much like they did with Home Improvement at 7pm when I was a kid! But I must admit, TV2 are flogging the Friends horse into the afterlife and beyond! They definitely need a new show, I’ve stopped counting how many times Friends has been repeated. The Simpsons classic episodes would be good to put on at 6. As for TVNZ poaching The Simpsons and Family Guy, well thems the breaks in the TV industry! By far their best poach was definitely Home and Away – that one stung TV3 big time. TV3 and MediaWorks have gone down hill ever since.

  17. I could be wrong but I’m sure I saw a snippet of Scream Queens in the latest TV2 showreel. Looks like TV2 scored a bunch of other shows from its Fox deal. Another nail for FOUR’s coffin.

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