NZ On Air has announced that the MediaWorks application for a new soap “was given serious consideration but was not supported”.
Under the teasy title “NZ On Air supports local prime time drama” the agency’s release confirmed support for a third season of SPP’s Brokenwood Mysteries while delivering the bullet to the back of the head for MediaWorks’ proposed soap.
It’s been well over a year since NZ On Air announced its openness to consider supporting another soap. MediaWorks appears to have missed the boat, at least in part, by taking so long to get it together to present an application. The broadcaster’s RFP for the soap closed in October 2014.
Today’s NZ On Air announcement noted, “The project was unable to be considered a priority due to constrained funding and competing priorities. The proposal required an ongoing financial commitment from NZ On Air that the Board felt was unsustainable in the current climate of a static budget but increasing demand.”
MediaWorks was reportedly “extremely disappointed with New Zealand on Air’s decision”.
Ahead of NZ On Air announcement, Throng published an article on this year’s ratings for Shortland Street and Home & Away, noting that both have lost viewers this year.
While the drop in numbers mirrors general trends in the falling numbers tuning into broadcast TV (figures don’t include ondemand viewing), it doesn’t encourage serious levels of ongoing investment in new projects. The last time NZ On Air invested in such a project, the launch of Shortland Street in 1993, the show was born into a much more favourable broadcasting environment. It received three years of agency support before it stood on its own feet.
Over the last two years local broadcasters have failed to turn established formats such as X Factor and Got Talent, made with NZ On Air support, into commercially viable programming. That’s also unlikely to have encouraged NZ On Air to take a punt on MediaWorks’ soap. The broadcaster, which lost Home & Away to TVNZ during its financial problems, has also lost goodwill with viewers this year over some of its decisions around NCA programming, especially Campbell Live and 3D.