Media giant Discovery has announced it will be launching two new free-to-air television channels in New Zealand.
The company, which owns channel Three, Bravo, Newshub and the ThreeNow streaming app, made the announcements during its 2021 showcase of upcoming content.
The first of the new channels, Gusto, will replace Choice TV and offer a range of local and international entertainment content targeted at 40- to 54-year-olds. Launch titles will include Changing Rooms UK, Big Family Farm and Finding Alice as well as the world premiere of New Zealand production Great Southern Truckers.
The second channel, Rush, will be skewed to a younger, male audience, with a range of popular survival and adventure shows. Launch titles on this channel will include Wheeler Dealers, Man vs Wild, Street Outlaws and Treehouse Masters.
This is the first major showcase from Discovery since the company acquired the television arm of MediaWorks in 2020 and offers a glimpse at the intentions of the company for the local market.
Glen Kyne, senior vice president and general manager for Discovery across Australia and New Zealand, further pointed out there would be a significant increase in the amount of local content from previous years.
He said that nearly 43 per cent of content across all hours of the day would be local content, up from 35 per cent.
In terms of what viewers can expect, Kyne said that Discovery would deliver a mix of the familiar and formats that New Zealanders hadn’t seen before.
Kyne pinpointed a new show called Tracked, which will feature New Zealanders dropped off in a remote location and then chased down by other competitors, as an example of some of the content that New Zealanders can look forward to.
Another show given a splash today was Nadia’s Farm, which will give a glimpse into the life of celebrity chef Nadia Lim as she pursues sustainable living at her lifestyle block.
Asked whether it made sense for a media company to be launching not one but two television channels at a time when viewers were increasingly migrating online, Kyne said he still believed there was room for the network to expand its audience.
“These are very targeted channels,” he said, explaining that the aim of these channels isn’t to capture everyone.
Instead, they are focused on specific audiences that tend to be coveted by advertisers.
Women aged between 40 and 54 tend to make the vast majority of the household shopping decisions, while younger men tend to be a tough audience to reach – even via online channels.
Kyne sees Gusto as a companion channel to reality-heavy Bravo, while Rush will lean into the younger male audience with shows focused on adrenaline junkies and action.
“When you add all of that together with the rest of our portfolio, ultimately what we want to do is use the next year or two to build our portfolio as wide and deep as we can,” he says.
“The future is increasingly digital, but having a funnel of a really large linear audience lets you promote your plans for a digital future to many viewers. And that’s really helpful.”
This also shouldn’t be taken to mean that Discovery is taking its eye off the digital aspect of its business.
Discovery is also investing in developing ThreeNow into a standalone service that’s available across more devices and so that it offers a better user experience.
“There are three pillars to our plan with ThreeNow. The first one is distribution. We want it to appear on more end points than it does now. Secondly, we’re investing in unique content, like Heartbreak Island, which will premiere on ThreeNow but not linear TV. And then we will also do a number of things to improve the digital experience for the viewer.”
The other major announcement to come from Kyne today involved his plans for Discovery’s news offering Newshub.
There have been a number of high-profile departures from this part of the business in recent months, including AM Show host Duncan Garner, political editor Tova O’Brien and dedicated business reporter Madison Reidy.
Kyne said that despite these departures, Discovery still had a good rundown of talent available within the business.
He said the company would also see the return of Samantha Hayes and Kanoa Lloyd from maternity leave shortly, which would serve as a boost.
“Our DNA hasn’t changed,” Kyne said, pointing out that there were various new opportunities for staff to step into.
Discovery will be introducing Newshub Live at 8pm on Gusto, which will take the form of 30-minute bulletin focused on the big stories of the day.
Earlier today, the company also announced that Melissa Chan-Green will join Ryan Bridge as co-host of the all-new AM.
Included among the changes will be the AM Early show, dedicated local and international news, with a focus on business issues.
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