Maturing market spells nzoom demise

Hopes of creating a standalone nzoom business have been abandoned as TVNZ plans to relaunch its online presence.

The demise of nzoom.com is part of the maturing of the New Zealand internet says website rating agency Red Sheriff.

TVNZ announced yesterday that from October its online activities will be an extension of its broadcasting business, rather than existing as a standalone portal. The nzoom name will disappear, making way for www.tvnz.co.nz.

Red Sheriff New Zealand managing director Mark Ottaway thinks the decision is the right one.

“Everyone had grand plans for IPOs at the height of the dot-com era but those days have gone.”

Ottaway credits Red Sheriff with being a catalyst for the decision, saying that since it began measuring New Zealand site traffic earlier this year, online publishers have been in no doubt about how they’re performing. In March, nzoom was ranked fourth-most popular site in the country, behind XtraMSN, MSN and The New Zealand Herald.

But TVNZ content manager Stephen Smith places less significance on nzoom’s popularity rating.

“Appearing in the top three wouldn’t have made any difference to this decision,” Smith says. “The site needs to more closely align with our core TV business.”

Smith says the expectation that nzoom would become a capital asset in its own right didn’t work out.

“When nzoom was first set up it was in an environment when many operators thought portals might take on some role that hasn’t been realised.”

TVNZ’s now decided it should be using the web to “complement and extend” its TV programming, along the lines of the BBC and others.

Smith says a first example of that will be seen with the History of New Zealand documentary series, which will be “enriched” with online content.

Media commentator Russell Brown says stemming the site’s losses will be part of TVNZ’s reasoning, but the decision is also a reflection of how the internet has changed.

“I think they’ve moved on from being the home page for New Zealanders to making it the home page for TVNZ.”

Auckland-based Brown says the site markedly trails Xtra and the Herald in popularity, yet the Herald has more modest online editorial resources.

Smith won’t comment on nzoom’s finances but is quoted in a story on the site saying it’s “always been seen as an investment in TVNZ’s future”.

Red Sheriff’s Ottaway, who is the Herald’s former online manager, guesses that creation of the nzoom brand will have cost TVNZ “tens of millions of dollars”.

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