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Telecom open to TVNZ, MediaWorks content partnerships - Paris

Telecom is launching ShowmeTV later this year.

Is the company open to content partnerships with TVNZ or MediaWorks, such as co-bids for content?

NBR put the question to COO Jason Paris after the telco's Spotify launch.

"Look, if they’ve got relationships, and understand the market in a deeper way than we do, we’re open to absolutely anything - even Sky," Mr Paris said.

Of course, TVNZ has Ondemand, and MediaWorks' its recently expanded and rebranded 3Now, and neither is about to give Telecom a leg up for regular content.

But with premium content it might just be a different story. Think about when the All Blacks' rights come up in 2015** - particular if the increasingly internet broadcasting-savvy New Zealand Rugby decides to split online and traditional broadcast rights. If that proved the case, then Telecom could partner with, say, TVNZ, in a similar manner as Coliseum Sports Media (owner of PremierLeaguePass.com) hooked up with the free-to-air broadcaster to win English Premier League soccer from Sky (Coliseum offers all games online, TVNZ offers selected games and highlights on TV One).

It helps that Telecom will make ShowmeTV available to all-comers, not just its own ISP customers. And that TVNZ has the wherewithal for outside broadcasting (covering games is a serious expense, and with Sky TV having brought the main OB contractor, it's seen as a major barrier for over-the-top players like ShowmeTV - at least on a solo bid).

Of course, if the NZRU has other options (including expanding its existing YouTube experiment). And TVNZ and MediaWorks could always go with Coliseum, which is potentially not short on coin (its largest shareholder is NBR Rich Lister Peter Cooper, worth half a billion).

And it doesn't necessarily have to be an A-list sport for Telecom and TVNZ (or MediaWorks) to mount a collaborative bid. They could combine resources for, say, a tilt at HBO progamming - or other premium content which is otherwise out of the free-to-air broadcasters financial reach (or at least financially feasible reach).

For now, Telecom CEO Simon Moutter has said he's not open to any "bet the business" spending on Showme TV (see www.nbr.co.nz/ask-simon), which he's pitching as a Netflix for New Zealand (intriguingly, Sky TV tells NBR it may counterpunch with its own Netflix-style service).

Geography is destiny
As fate would have it, TVNZ has moved staff into one of the towers in Telecom's Auckland HQ (space was freed up in the $280 million complex during Telecom's restructure), and they'll be there for some time as TVNZ's main building is made over. TVNZ staff have been in there for about two months.

The two companies now an entrance, atrium and the cafes that line its interior.  "We have just short of 500 people now at Telecom," TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards told NBR. "We've relocated for approximately two years while our main building is refurbished. Approximatley 300 are still in Television Centre."

The cohabitation means nothing in formal terms. It's nothing more than a deal to sublease some office space. But in everyday terms, it means TVNZers and Telecomers are going to be bumping into each other all the time over the next 24 months. And so often in life, geography is destiny. 

For his part, Mr Paris says he'll talk to anyone - and that indeed many parties are already approaching him.

"We’re open for business. I come from a media background*, and the amount of email I’ve had from people who want jobs, people who want to sell content or people who want to promote the service has been phenomenal."

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

* Paris was CEO of TV3 and Four for MediaWorks, and prior to that head of digital media, marketing and strategy at TVNZ, where he was seen as the driving force behind digital initiatives including Ondemand.

** 2015 will see SANZR rights up for grabs, including Super Rugby and All Blacks games againist Australia and South Africa

More by Chris Keall