All these ads are killing the TV viewing experience, writes Chris Schulz. Why can’t we pay TVNZ to make them go away?
This column was first published on Chris Schulz’s newsletter Boiler Room.
When was the last time you used TVNZ OnDemand, our nationwide, publicly-funded, free-to-air, big budget online TV-viewing platform?
Maybe, like me, you’ve been bingeing your way through Creamerie, the high-octane post-apocalyptic thriller from Roseanne Liang and Perlina Lau that gets rid of all of the world’s men (btw, an excellent idea), turns Tandi Wright into a sadistic villain, includes all kinds of celebrity cameos, and ends with one hell of a – um – climax.
Perhaps you’ve also been watching Rose Matefeo’s excellent Brit-com Starstruck, in which the ex-pat Kiwi plays an ex-pat Kiwi who falls in love with a famous actor and is forced to wrestle with all of the trouble that situation could bring. It’s also very good – and includes a show-stealing cameo from Minnie Driver.
For both of those shows, TVNZ has done something really quite forward-thinking: timing the first episode’s debut on network television while dropping the entire series for bingeing OnDemand. That should be applauded. If I could use emojis in my newsletters, I’d put three hand-claps in right here.
But that’s not all you might have been using TVNZ OnDemand for.
Perhaps you’ve been using it to catch up with the day’s news, sport and weather, or tuning into Hilz Baz and Newsboy for some light ent lols on Seven Sharp.
Maybe you’ve been judging the supermarket shopping habits of average everyday Kiwis on Eat Well For Less New Zealand, tut-tutting along with the show’s lovely hosts Ganesh Raj (can he become my new best friend please?) and Mike Van de Elzen every time another block of chocolate and bag of jet planes goes into the trolley.
My kids are addicted to the new season of Popstars, picking their favourites, judging their performances and wowing at the moment competitor John-Paul Foliaki called out institutional racism in prime time television, while I shake my head every time Kimbra says something super spacey and naff.
My point is that there is a tonne of great stuff on TVNZ OnDemand. I haven’t even got to all of its big-name overseas dramas which have had our money spent on bringing them here, but they include The Fall, The End, Line of Duty, The Gloaming, The Bridge, Killing Eve, Coyote, Black Sails, UnReal and Happy Valley.
Look at all those shows! The selection is unreal. When you put all of those next to Casketeers, Fair Go, Wellington Paranormal, Black Hands, Educators, Taskmaster NZ and Good Grief, you could probably flag your Netflix subscription, only use TVNZ OnDemand and be pretty damned happy for several months.
Basically, if you’re not using TVNZ OnDemand, you’re an idiot. There are apps everywhere for it, including on Samsung smart TVs, Vodafone TV, and Apple TV. And it’s free.
But if you’re already a heavy user, like my family is, one thing is absolutely guaranteed: you’ve been watching a hell of a lot of ads. You’ve been slammed by them. Over the past three days, I’ve been asked to watch that terrible Mortal Kombat movie, buy my lingerie from Farmers, drink V, and switch to 2 Degrees, multiple times.
I want to do none of these things.
I’m not the only one who has pointed out all of this nonsense…
— Dr Claire M Benson 🔥 (@PyroClaire) April 28, 2021
— Creamerie (@creamerie_show) April 26, 2021
Watching a TVNZ Online show. Every ten minutes the show is interrupted by an ad to buy more property.
— pöst-scött (@buzzandhum) April 22, 2021
At this point, I want to start screaming, because there’s a clear solution to all of this. It seems so obvious I don’t know why it hasn’t been done yet. It’s silly. TVNZ already demands you log into OnDemand when you use it, so turning on an ad-free subscription service seems easy and totally doable.
Someone in TVNZ’s tech department could just flick the switch and turn the whole thing into a Spotify-style service: if you don’t mind the ads, you get the free version; if you hate the ads, pay $10 a month and you get the ad-free premium service.
I would do this, and so would a lot of other people.
Hey @TVNZ when are you going to allow me to subscribe to TVNZ OnDemand instead of having to see annoying unskippable ads?
— Josh Robb (@josh_robb) May 1, 2021
It was rumoured this was happening three years ago. What’s holding TVNZ back?
As far as I can see, nothing. So here’s my plan. I’m going to write this in all-caps and bold in the hope that someone, somewhere at TVNZ sees this and passes it on to their bosses. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own message or tweet or Facebook post, make sure you @TVNZ, and let’s get this ball rolling.
Here we go…
HEY TVNZ! PEOPLE HATE ADS! THEY REALLY DO! THEY DON’T HAVE TO WATCH THEM ON NETFLIX, OR AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, OR NEON, OR DISNEY+, OR APPLE TV+, OR LISTEN TO THEM ON SPOTIFY, AND THEY’RE HAPPY TO PAY FOR THAT PRIVILEGE! SO WHY DON’T YOU DO THE COMPLETELY OBVIOUS THING AND OFFER AN AD-FREE SERVICE FOR THOSE THAT WANT IT? THAT WAY, IT’S STILL FREE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T CARE ABOUT ADS, BUT FOR MAJOR USERS LIKE MY FAMILY, THOSE ANNOYING ADS CAN BE TURNED OFF.
HERE WE GO, ONE LAST TIME: I. DON’T. WANT. TO. WATCH. YOUR. STOOPID. ADS. THEY. SUCK. SO. STOP. IT. FOR. GOOD. PLEASE.
I think that’s a pretty clear message, right?
Let’s hope someone up top at TVNZ hears it so this shit gets sorted out soon.
* An earlier version of this column made the incorrect claim that TVNZ is taxpayer funded. This has been amended.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.