Subscription Video on Demand: Viewing Preferences Among New Zealand Audiences

Daniels, Rachel
Frommherz, Gudrun
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

With the development of digital television platforms in New Zealand and the launch of Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix NZ, Lightbox, Quickflix and Neon, a more discerning television audience is emerging. SVOD services are influencing a change within the television broadcasting landscape in New Zealand, fragmenting audiences away from traditional linear television, appealing to viewers in new and innovative ways and changing viewing behaviour.

This thesis provides qualitative and quantitative analysis of SVOD viewers’ experiences, expectations, and behaviours with respect to viewing content on the digital platforms and services available to New Zealand subscribers. Quantitative data was collected from an online survey; participants were drawn from readers of the New Zealand Herald online. The quantitative data was collected in order to help position and supplement the qualitative data, which was obtained through focus group interviews. A thematic analysis was used to identify key themes and draw insight from the data sets.

The thesis identifies that viewers place a high degree of preference and value on the freedom and opportunities that SVOD provides in personalizing their own viewing practices. Key preferences among these was the ability to control content selection and engage in the practice of anytime viewing, i.e. to choose from an increasingly broad selection of content wherever they are, whenever they like and on whatever device they prefer to view it on. New routines of individual consumption and changing selective television viewing practices are identified. Self-scheduling of programmes provides viewers with the ability to ‘lean forward’ and engage with programme discovery in innovative ways, ‘binge watch’ and foster social connections. With increasing competition between television services, viewers’ emphasized the importance of high quality original content and high production values in their content selection with expectations that an SVOD provider must meet these standards to be considered. The thesis concludes with recommendations for further research to enable the New Zealand television industry to identify ways to address fragmentation and evolving television consumption practices.

On-demand , Television viewers , Television , SVOD , Subscription Video on Demand , Broadcasting , Digital platforms , Binge watch , Original content , Netflix , New Zealand Television audiences
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