What will happen to nzoom services?

While Television New Zealand executives oversee the revamp of the nzoom portal into tvnz.co.nz, internet companies are watching with interest the fate of unwanted nzoom services.

While Television New Zealand executives oversee the revamp of the nzoom portal into tvnz.co.nz, internet companies are watching with interest the fate of unwanted nzoom services.

The broadcaster announced in May that it would refocus its online division, dropping the nzoom.com portal and instead using the tvnz.co.nz website, due to launch in October, to “complement and extend” TVNZ’s on-air programmes. Clearly in the firing line are nzoom services such as the free webmail service, e-cards, online competitions, travel booking and a New Zealand search engine.

No decision has been made about the future of the nzoomail webmail service, according to TVNZ's deputy manager operations and commercial, Alistair Matthewson, but if it were unwanted in the revamped website a buyer might be found.

“We’d explore any opportunities,” Matthewson says. “At the moment, webmail is continuing.”

TVNZ hasn’t had any conversations with potential buyers yet, he says.

Nzoomail is still accepting new users.

Sean Weekes, operations manager at Iconz, says buyers for the nzoom portal would be interested in building revenue from the traffic the site generates. “People register on to nzoom and it is quite a cool portal really. I think it could have been sold off as a company.”

Weekes says simply dropping the portal services would not be “commercially astute”, suggesting revenue could be generated from advertisement click-throughs and selling services such as broadband or streaming video.

Nzoomail in particular would be hard for TVNZ to abandon, as it would alienate current users. “I’m almost certain that that service will not disappear,” Weekes says. “It would be a strange thing to do.”

Ihug CEO Martin Wylie agrees that another owner might be able to make nzoom profitable, possibly with some kind of collaboration from TVNZ, although he sounds a note of caution.

“Generally I think it’s extremely difficult to work out exactly how the business model works,” he says. “The question is, what access do you get to some of the resource TVNZ has if you pulled it away from TVNZ?” Without TVNZ involvement, “it’s just another portal”, Wylie says.

He had been surprised by TVNZ’s decision to drop nzoom. “I’m staggered really … I thought it was just a sort of information portal on to their business and that really it was a loss that they were prepared to absorb.”

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