The rise of e-commerce had a major impact upon the advertising revenue of print publications, especially newspapers, encouraging them to move online. In addition the ability of the internet to provide coverage of an event very quickly was a major advantage for online news publication. The 2013 World Internet Project survey found that 81% of New Zealanders regarded the internet as an important source of information – significantly higher than for television (47%), print newspapers (37%), and radio (37%). This figure rose markedly after 2007.
What’s in a name?
The name Stuff was proposed for INL’s news website by advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi. INL had to buy the corresponding domain name from a company that had already registered it.
Media sites rank highly among New Zealand websites. Traditional media companies are prominently represented. The Stuff website was set up in 2000 by Independent Newspapers Limited (INL) as an online brand for its 10 daily newspapers, two Sunday newspapers and 55 community newspapers. By 2020 it was the most popular New Zealand website.
The New Zealand Herald's website, begun in 1998, reaches a far larger audience than the Auckland-based paper's print edition.
Video and print
The boundaries between different forms of media have broken down. While both Stuff and the Herald have dedicated teams producing video for their websites, Television New Zealand and Mediaworks' TV3 provide written news stories, blogs and other content via the internet, in addition to their video fare. Both broadcasters offer local and international programmes on demand via the internet, as does Sky Television, whose skygo service is available only to Sky subscribers.
According to Nielsen Online Ratings, in 2013 the news site most visited by New Zealanders was Stuff, which aggregated Fairfax Media's newspapers and attracted nearly 1.3 million individual visitors monthly. Its chief rival was the New Zealand Herald website, whose monthly audience was just under a million, although the regional network sites of Herald publisher APN attracted an additional 200,000.
Although localised versions of Yahoo and MSN news sites attracted many thousands of visitors, the only other locally-generated news website in the Top 10 was Mediaworks' 3 News, which had a monthly audience of around 210,000. (Television New Zealand's news website received around 190,000).
There were some important independent news websites. The privately owned Scoop functioned in part as a national noticeboard, publishing press releases verbatim – a model which accelerated the move within Parliament to publish releases and statements digitally. Scoop was used by more than 100,000 New Zealanders monthly in 2013, and the website of the country's largest locally-owned newspaper, Allied Press's Otago Daily Times, had a similar audience. The National Business Review had a smaller audience but was significant for pioneering a ‘paywall’ model for subscriber access. In 2020 the NBR went digital-only.
Radio New Zealand International, which broadcasts to the Pacific, had a website from 1995. From 1997 to 2001 Michael Sutton delivered Radio New Zealand National's broadcasts via the web under licence, and an official Radio New Zealand website was created in 1998. Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (later Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision) launched a website in the same year. But only in 2005, after dedicated website funding was granted, was a substantial Radio New Zealand site launched. In 2013 broadcast shows were streamed live and made available on demand as podcasts. The site hosted around 4,000 hours of archived audio content, including drama and New Zealand music features, and was the country's leading radio website.
In the 2010s Radio Live, Newstalk ZB and others published news online, and niche music stations such as 95bFM, George FM and Base FM reach audiences beyond their broadcast catchments with their internet streams.
In 2012 the video for pop artist Kimbra's song 'Good intent' notched up around 4.5 million views online – far more than it would ever have enjoyed on television.
NZ On Air
NZ On Air, the government agency that manages contestable funding for broadcasting, includes the internet in its funding strategy. In the agency’s music-video funding, television play has diminished as a measure of success by comparison with online play.
The agency also funds theaudience.co.nz, a discovery website for emerging artists, and contributes to the cost of interactive applications developed by commercial radio stations.
NZ On Air also backs heritage projects, most notably NZ On Screen, which presents hundreds of hours of New Zealand film and television work, and AudioCulture, which describes itself as ‘the noisy library of New Zealand music’.
A Digital Media Fund allocates funding for new digital-only projects. Early rounds of two digital funding schemes were hugely over-subscribed.