On 20 June a Herald article by Russell Blackstock noted that TVNZ had decided to pull the new Terry Teo from the 6pm Sunday slot. The decision was made before the show began its run.
TVNZ has begun to roll out the series on TVNZ OD last week, and said that it will air the show in a different slot at a yet-to-be determined date.
This morning another Herald article (by Matt Heath) praised the show and again questioned the decision-making at TVNZ, saying the network had “chosen not to back it”.
Whether or not TVNZ’s decision to pull it from its scheduled slot (6pm, Sundays) is a good decision isn’t really that important. If it ends up not screening against the day’s highest-rating programme it might get better ratings.
While it’s no doubt frustrating for all involved that the show isn’t on air as expected, it’s not “gone” as some mainstream media articles have implied. The broadcaster is obliged to screen it on TV under the funding agreement with NZ On Air, which put $1,335,781 into the production late in 2013.
The timing is unfortunate as the “removal” of Terry Teo from TV screens has coincided with MediaWorks changeover of FOUR to Bravo. That change has removed a lot of kids’ programming from TV screens and provided the stimulus for an 8,000 signature petition against the change.
Bravo, indeed, for MediaWorks. The changeover is another in a growing line of decisions that might or might not make financial sense but which have done little for ratings, less for customer-relations and even created ill-will inside the network. TVNZ could have garnered some positive coverage for the debut of a new kids’ show at a time MediaWorks was culling them for its schedules, but contrived to miss that boat.
The NZ Children’s Screen Trust Janette Howe said the decisions were “cynical”, symptomatic of a lack of respect for younger viewers and a missed opportunity to engage with younger viewers and build relationships with the TV audiences of future years.
“Our kids deserve a variety of programming,” Howe said. “There needs to be a a serious look at public broadcasting for children.”
Online, discoverability is an issue for children with NZ On Air-commissioned research showing that kids don’t exactly flock to OD services in the numbers or manner in which they engage with easier-to-access platforms such as YouTube.
The challenge of discoverability is that it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. A show isn’t on TV, is is less likely to be found online, delivers smaller viewer numbers which deters commercial broadcasters from supporting and investing in more such content.
The roll-out of Terry Teo on TVNZ OD is also a bit of a missed opportunity. Rolling out two episodes a week means kids are unable to binge-watch the six-episode series during the school holidays.
Online, it’s certainly positioned with other shows that appeal to older children. Chaz Harris’ webseries End of Term and Greenstone’s Cul de Sac (which recently aired on TV2 in the 6pm Sunday slot).