TVNZ Launches Portal

AUCKLAND (03/10/2000) - Television New Zealand (TVNZ) is preparing to launch, its long-awaited "home page for New Zealanders".

The launch, which sees the various strands of TVNZ online content -- including news, sport, home and gardening -- aggregated and combined with content and resources licensed from NBC Internet's, has been preceded by a substantial expansion of the broadcaster's new media division.

TVNZ's general manager of strategy and marketing, Simon Aimer, says the company's Internet operation has gone from being "a swingshift for Teletext" to a dedicated team of about 50 people, including 20 journalist and content staff, in addition to Web coders and designers.

TVNZ partially incorporated content into its site late last year, and registered the domain at the same time, but has been holding back its new branding for the relaunch, which will take place sometime this month.

Aimer admits the move to a single large, consistent Web site has provided particular challenges and required some internal changes. "You can conceive of ideas in the Web world much more quickly than you can implement them. The hardest thing is actually those boring old business things."

"There's not a lot of new content -- mainly the entertainment and technology sections -- in the initial launch, but it looks that way because it's been aggregated and given new navigation."

Although not ruling out a role for products such as subscriber-based video services -- with which it has been experimenting for about a year, along with Real Networks and RPK Security -- Aimer says TVNZ's core Internet revenue model is straightforward.

"We hope it grows like the Internet's growing. Our strategy is a very boring, 'unsexy' media model, which has surprised everyone. There was always the presumption by people who weren't very close to it that you'd have to charge for content, have a subscription approach -- or that you'd have to have a lot of e-commerce as part of everything you did, or have a very stripped-down portal operation."

The relationship with brings various online assets -- including free e-mail services and Snap's optional broadband content. Both of these would have meshed well with any plan by TVNZ to provide Internet service via its now-on-hold digital TV network, but Aimer says the postponement of the TV plans has barely affected the Web strategy.

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