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New Insights For NZ Media Platforms And Content Creators Trying To Reach Young New Zealanders

The challenges of reaching New Zealand youth with local content have been laid out in comprehensive new research into what media they’re consuming and why.

NZ On Air’s industry benchmark Where Are The Audiences research has this year homed in on 15-24 year olds, and for the first time is complemented with in-depth qualitative research. Glasshouse Consulting surveyed over 700 people in the age group, while TRA undertook an online ethnographic study with 30 young people to deep dive into their motivations and perceptions.

The combined findings reveal a picture of young people largely not spending time on the local platforms where they might discover local content. Many have preconceived ideas that these platforms are for older audiences, and that the content isn’t going to appeal to them.

NZ On Air Chief Executive Cameron Harland says the research comes at a critical time for local platforms and content makers.

“We’ve been observing the trends of young audiences going to digital and global platforms for several years and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what’s driving this so we can work to attract them to local content.”

“We know that young Kiwis are missing out on great local content that’s being made by, for and about them. There are clearly reasons for this, but what’s really encouraging is that when they are shown a range of local content they weren’t previously aware of, they love it,” said Mr Harland.

Some of the key points of the research are:

  • Each day less than one in three 15-24 year olds watch TV, local on demand sites or listen to the radio – media where they will have a better opportunity to engage with NZ content. Instead they are predominantly on social media, overseas online video sites, SVOD and playing online games.
  • TVNZ platforms have the greatest reach of local platforms – together TVNZ 1 and 2 reach 21% of 15-24s and 18% view TVNZ +. Local online news sites have much lower reach with this age group – The NZ Herald has highest reach at 10%.
  • Most engage with local shows or music several times a week, and feel more proud to be a Kiwi when they do.
    • 8 in 10 enjoy seeing NZ places and faces on shows, but less than half agree NZ shows reflect them or their lives.
    • Three-quarters say NZ music makes them a little more proud to be a NZer, but 7 in 10 also think international music is better.
  • Their media choice is influenced by their perceptions of local providers being skewed to older audiences, and less positive perceptions of local content.
    • They have negative pre-conceptions about local content – but when shown a range of local content they were impressed by the quality, range and relatability.
  • Word of mouth, social media and streaming service algorithms are how they discover new shows – in music TikTok is third most used platform for discovery after streaming service algorithms and word of mouth.
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NZ On Air Head of Funding Amie Mills says this audience doesn’t go out of their way to find content, so the challenge is to get it in front of them.

“Great content needs to be showing up in the feeds and algorithms of the platforms these audiences use so they can discover and share it easily with their friends,” she said.

“We’ll be using this information to inform changes to our funding strategy moving forward and we’re keen to work alongside local platforms to explore how extended content distribution on social media sites can re-engage young audiences with local content.”

The research found that youth audiences want good storylines, writing and humour, relatable information, and they want to feel represented and understood. In addition they seek the same as most other audience demographics - escapism, to relax, have a mood boost and to stay in the know - the old ‘watercooler’ moments.

Cameron Harland says the research also reinforces the importance of an agnostic view of audience behaviours and needs.

“This type of research has become something NZ On Air is known and respected for and we are seeing an increasing need for it. To seek to genuinely understand the audiences we serve, their drivers, their insights and their viewing habits is crucial.”

Further information

**Our two research teams, Glasshouse and TRA, worked closely together on this project. Early learnings from the qualitative work informed some of the questions in the quantitative survey so that these observations could be tested out.

The full individual reports are published on the NZ On Air website at and available to download below:

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