Embracing the digital era

Since 2007 NZ On Air has been funding innovative projects for online audiences.

Digital media investments are targetted at niche audiences that are not otherwise well-served by mainstream media.

The first NZ On Air digital strategy was developed in response to a change in the Broadcasting Act allowing us to consider online and mobile initiatives.

Back then it was about better access to existing content; and encouraging some experimentation with content and platforms through the creation of a special fund with relatively few boundaries.

Since 2007 there have been significant changes to the digital landscape and they continue at pace. We have easier and faster access to online platforms. We can now consume media content anywhere, anytime. The roll-out of ultrafast broadband is further enhancing New Zealanders’ online access.

Early digital media projects

One of our earliest successful funded projects was the 2009 online interactive drama Reservoir Hill.  Produced by Wellington company KHF Media, the series allowed its young adult audience to become involved in the plot through text messaging and social media interaction.

Reservoir Hill won NZ's first International Digital Emmy Award in 2010 and a Gold World Medal at the 2011 New York Festival's International Television and Film Awards.

You can watch it on TVNZ On Demand or NZ On Screen.

Reservoir Hill- KHF Media for TVNZ OnDemand

Serving niche audiences

HeArt of Nelson - app developed by Kiwi AR

Digital media funding initiatives encourage producers to think outside the square and consider how to reach niche audiences not well-served by the mainstream.

So we see projects like Sign Ninja which is an online game teaching young people New Zealand sign language.

And HeART of Nelson - an augmented reality app that allows visitors to historical sites around Nelson to view archive photos and text on their phone or tablet, essentially bringing the museum to the streets.

Our digital media fund has also provided a boost for content for Pacific audiences. In the 2012 we wanted to find and fund projects that would appeal to Pacific audiences. 

The first of these projects was The Factory Story - a Pacific musical drama webseries with a transmedia twist. Inspired by the popular musical stage show, The Factory Story went to the South Auckland community to find talent and stories for the webseries.

We also funded TheCoconet.TV -  connecting Pacific youth with their culture through music and video as well as blogs, and interactive and informative content.

The Factory Story - Jump Film and Television

It's child's play

Children love to use modern technology - any screen, any size. So creating content they can interact with through multiple devices is a great way of getting local content in front of an increasingly fragmented audience.

Our digital media fund has supported the first NZ webseries for children Nia's Extraordinary Life, which is in English and Te Reo Māori. The story follows Nia who makes her ordinary life extra ordinary with her vivid imagination.

An app for pre-schoolers, Kiwi ABC provides a fun interactive way to learn the alphabet using uniquely New Zealand images and words.

Two more apps, Let's Get Inventin' and Little Legends, encourage children to create and innovate. 

The webseries wave

Webseries have really taken off in recent years.

An early webseries we funded - the first series of Auckland Daze later became a television programme, while others such as My Story in 2007 pioneered a mobile format. Woodville, saw the funny side of small town NZ.

In 2013 we created the webseries fund in response to the growing appetite for this form of short format story-telling.

While many people are producing excellent webseries with no budget, or through crowd-funding, NZ On Air's contestable fund encourages more ambitious productions. See Season 2 of High Road or Season 3 of Flat3 for our latest examples.

Woodville - Clayweaver Productions

You can find out more about digital media projects NZ On Air funds here.

Next Article: Then and now

NZ On Air (officially the Broadcasting Commission) was born in 1989. In the 25 years since, broadcasting has changed significantly and audiences today have more choice of local content.