Three
Toru
Current Three logo, introduced in 2017.
CountryNew Zealand
Broadcast areaNational
Programming
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 576i for the SD feed)
Timeshift serviceThreePlus1
Ownership
OwnerWarner Bros. Discovery Asia-Pacific
ParentWarner Bros. Discovery New Zealand
Sister channels
History
Launched26 November 1989; 34 years ago (1989-11-26)
Former namesTV3 (1989–2017)
Links
Websitewww.threenow.co.nz
Availability
Terrestrial
DVB 64-QAM on band IV

Three (Māori: Toru), stylized as +HR=E, is a New Zealand nationwide television channel. Launched on 26 November 1989 as TV3, it was New Zealand's first privately owned television channel. The channel currently broadcasts nationally (with regional advertising targeting four markets) in digital free-to-air form via the state-owned Kordia on terrestrial and satellite. Vodafone also carries the channel for their cable subscribers in Wellington and Christchurch. It previously broadcast nationally on analogue television until that was switched off on 1 December 2013.

Three is a general entertainment channel owned by Warner Bros. Discovery New Zealand, with a significant news and current affairs element under the banner of Newshub. Three carries a significant amount of local content, most of which airs at prime-time.

History

Establishment

Original TV3 logo from 1989 to 2003.
A version of the logo introduced in 1994.

Applications to apply for warrants to operate New Zealand's third national television network opened in early 1985 and closed on 29 March 1985. There were four regional channel warrants - Region 1 serving Auckland and Northland, Region 2 serving Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Hawke's Bay, Region 3 serving Wellington, Manawatu and Taranaki, and Region 4 serving the South Island. Applicants for the warrants included Aotearoa Broadcasting System, Civic Enterprises (region 4 only), Energy Source Television Network, Impact Television, On-Shore Services (region 1 only), Southern Cross Television (except region 2), Tele-Vid Three group, and United Telecast Corporation (region 2 only). Hearings began in August 1985.[1][2]

The Broadcasting Tribunal announced in August 1987 that the Tele-Vid Three group (TV3) had been awarded all four warrants. The four channels would be based in Auckland, Tauranga,[3] Wellington and Christchurch, with a jointly-owned national news and current affairs service and a national advertising service. TV3 was proposed to launch in early 1989, with broadcasts initially covering 80 percent of the population.[4]

There were numerous delays to the launch date of TV3. Litigation surrounded the granting of the warrant, as did the share market crash in October 1987, which wiped out a large proportion of the capital that TV3 required to establish the channel. These problems resulted in the ambitious regional plans being rationalised before being shelved completely. The network was to be based in Auckland with limited studios and news and sales teams in the other main centres.[5]

External videos
video icon TV3 First Transmission, 26 November 1989 via NZ On Screen

TV3 expected to take 30% of the television advertising revenue, rising to 36% by 1994.[6]

TV3 began broadcasting on Sunday 26 November 1989 at 8:00 pm with Governor-General Paul Reeves officially launching the station. This was followed by a two-hour special previewing the network's programmes, featuring comedians David McPhail and Jon Gadsby playing cameramen.[7] TV3's initial slogan proclaimed 'Come Home to the Feeling'; a derivative of the 'Come Home to the Best, Only on NBC' slogan used by NBC in the United States at the time. At launch, TV3 could be received by an estimated 55 percent of the population, in Auckland, Waikato, Western Bay of Plenty, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.[8]

Regular broadcasts began the following day, Monday 27 November 1989, at 7:00 am. The first programme was The Early Bird Show, interspersed by half-hourly news bulletins read by Joanna Paul.[7]

One of the financial supporters of TV3 in its early life was America's NBC (through NBC International Ltd),[9] taking 14.9% of TV3's shares and had the biggest and effectively controlling interest. [10] Existing laws forbade foreign ownership beyond the 15% level, [6] what TV3 considers as "the main block to sell" itself.[11] NBC sold the stake when TV3 was into receivership in May 1990; by this time the share was at 16.4%.[12]

Despite breaking TVNZ's monopoly, TV3 had found itself in an uphill struggle. Its current affairs programmes and sports programmes were axed due to disappointing ratings and poor advertising income. Its staff were also laid off. It also had to face competition with the then-new Sky Network Television. TV3 was ready for any ratings battle. [13]

Westpac ownership

TV3 failed to gain ground against a recently revitalised TVNZ and was placed into receivership on 2 May 1990. TV3 continued to broadcast with the major creditor, Westpac, supporting the network by taking a large shareholding. TV3 was delisted from the New Zealand Stock Exchange in December 1990 because it could afford to meet listing requirements. [14] Its board of directors had lost their confidence when TV3 was into receivership.[14]

As TV3 needed investment during a climate of economic recession, the government liberalised the rules on foreign ownership of television stations (raising the 15 percent cap to 49 percent and later removing all restrictions), allowing TV3 to search for an investor overseas. In December 1991, Canwest took a 20 percent shareholding in TV3 and secured a management agreement allowing it full control to operate the station. Canwest introduced tighter controls on budgets while targeting the lucrative 18- to 49-year-old audience. TV3's audience share and advertising revenue steadily increased, leading to significant profits. TV3 also steadily increased its coverage within New Zealand, adding dozens of transmitters and translators, often with the assistance of New Zealand On Air. By 1998 about 97 percent of the population could receive the channel.

On 2 October 1996, TV3 announced a reshuffling of its broadcast frequencies to enable it to launch a new network, to be called TV4 Network Limited, on the VHF band. TV4, which started on 29 June 1997, is a free-to-air network aimed at a younger audience than TV3. The launch was considered successful, with high brand recognition and ratings significantly higher than MTV, TV4's television rival. TV4's opening broadcast was the controversial Tyson–Holyfield boxing rematch.[15]

Canwest ownership

In April 1997 Canwest purchased Westpac's 48 percent shareholding in TV3, taking Canwest's stake to 68 percent. In June Canwest picked up the More FM Radio network, followed in November with the purchase of the remaining 32 percent of TV3. In April 1998, Canwest announced that it had made Can$22 million in the six months to February 1998 in New Zealand, up a third on the same period the year before. TV4 contributed positively to the result, with some of the increase due to the inclusion of More FM, while TV3 was continuing to experience strong revenue growth.

In September 1999, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) upheld a complaint over TV3's 20/20 story "Sex, Lies and Videotape" in June 1998. The story received twelve complaints and was upheld on the grounds of privacy, viewpoints on controversial Issues, accuracy, fairness and responsible programming. The BSA ordered TV3 to pay $100,000 in costs, to broadcast statements on-air regarding the upheld complaint, and the channel was banned from showing advertising between 6:00pm and 8:30pm on 10 October 1999.[16]

Canwest's investments in New Zealand had developed considerably in New Zealand over the period that it had interests in the country. TV4 continued to be a source of concern for the broadcaster, but the position of TV3 was strengthened by alliances with Sky Television for sport and a series of high-profile mistakes by TVNZ as it dealt with the dominance of Sky in pay television. The election of the Labour government in 1999 refocused TVNZ as a semi-non-commercial broadcaster, no longer ratings-driven and no longer attempting to dominate the free to air television market. As a commercial broadcaster, TV3 was in a position to take advantage of TVNZ's change of focus.

TV3 logo used from 2003 to 2017

During 2004 the station was transferred into the ownership of Canwest MediaWorks (NZ) as a way of listing 30 percent of the Canadian company's New Zealand assets on the New Zealand share market. TV3's parent company TVWorks announced its annual revenue at $124 million in October 2004, which was $13 million up from the previous financial year.

MediaWorks ownership

In May 2007 it was announced that Ironbridge Capital, an Australian private equity firm, was paying $386 million or $2.43 a share for the 70 percent of CanWest MediaWorks (NZ) owned by CanWest Global Communications. It was also offering the same price to minority shareholders under a full takeover bid.

On 1 April 2008, TV3 became the first New Zealand television network to introduce high-definition television, to coincide with the launch of Freeview HD and MySky HDi in New Zealand. The first programme to broadcast in true 1080i high definition (i.e. not upscaled) was that night's screening of Boston Legal.

On 17 June 2013 the parent company of TV3 went into receivership, this being the second receivership for TV3. When TV3's parent company MediaWorks was purchased by Ironbridge Capital they took on $700 Million of debt which could no longer be sustained. Following the receivership TV3 and the radio stations owned by MediaWorks remained on air and all staff have retained their jobs.[17] Shares in the company were gradually and completely bought out by US hedge fund Oaktree Capital Management.[18]

Former 3NOW logo used until 2017

Since 3 July 2016, with the closure of sister channel Four, some of its programming, such as Sticky TV, moved over to TV3 in a new daytime lineup.

On 9 February 2017, TV3 underwent a major re-branding, changing its name to Three and adopting a new logo and on-air imaging. The new brand was promoted as being "vibrant, playful, and inspiring"; chief content officer Andrew Szusterman explained that TV3 as a brand had not evolved with its programming, and that "a channel this strong, with content this strong, should be bigger than the sum of its parts and it should represent the content itself whereas the pieces of content were living in isolation." The new imaging was widely criticised by viewers, particularly the unusual design and stylization of its new logo as "+HR=E".[19][20][21]

A second sister channel, ThreeLife, was launched on 15 April 2018.

On 18 October 2019, MediaWorks announced Three was for sale.[22]

On 25 March 2020, ThreeLife and ThreeLife + 1 went off air, and were replaced by the return of The Edge TV and new channel Breeze TV.[23]

Discovery, Inc. ownership

In early September 2020, MediaWorks confirmed that it would be selling its television media assets, which include Three, to the US mass media multinational company Discovery, Inc.[24][25][26]

On 1 December 2020, Discovery, Inc acquired Three as part of its acquisition of MediaWorks' television assets, which also included the sister channels The Edge TV, The Breeze TV and Bravo, as well as news service Newshub.[27][28] In April 2022, Discovery merged with WarnerMedia to form Warner Bros. Discovery. The Edge TV and The Breeze TV were both discontinued in December 2022, to be replaced with Eden and Rush.

Content

See also: List of Warner Bros. Discovery free-to-air programming in New Zealand

Output contracts

Mediaworks acquired a first-run and re-run contract with HD sourced material for 20th Century Fox Television content (which includes films under the brands 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Animation – 2008 to present, Fox Atomic, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Icon Films – 2007 to 2012, now belongs to Prime Television New Zealand and Regency Enterprises), which was previously held by TVNZ. When TVNZ outbid them for their previous Disney Media Distribution contract. In 2015, they had the rights to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for more recent films.

Exclusive contracts with CBS News, ITV News, and Seven News for international news coverage.

Mediaworks has long held first-option contracts with NBC Universal (which includes films under the brands Focus Features and Universal Pictures) with select HD material from February 2011.[29] As well as until the start of the US 2012 season,[30] a first-option contract with CBS Television Distribution (which included films under the brands Paramount Pictures and non-animated DreamWorks Pictures) with select HD material from the end of 2012, this deal came to an end for new content from the start of 2013. From mid-2013, TV3 secured a first option deal with Sony Pictures Television for new content for TV series and movies that will be scheduled for late 2013 and the 2014 season. This deal signals a move away from the more expensive exclusive Fox deal, which is still under re-negotiation following the broadcaster's change in ownership.[31]

On 20 December 2013, MediaWorks re-signed a revised down scaled exclusive deal with Fox.[32] As a result of their receivership, they lost their first-option rights over NBCUniversal shows, which resulted in TVNZ acquiring the rights to Brooklyn Nine Nine in 2014. They also lost their rights to air 20th Television programmes, which resulted in Prime airing Sleepy Hollow, and TVNZ airing Empire.

Broadcasting details

From launch in November 1989 until digital television transition was completed on 1 December 2013, TV3 broadcast terrestrially using the analogue PAL-B&G. In some areas, TV3's analogue broadcast was on a different transmitter from TV One and TV2's analogue broadcasts, and viewers needed an additional antenna to pick up the channel; these included Hamilton, Tauranga, Taupo, Gisborne, Kapiti, Masterton, and Nelson.[33][34]

Three is a broadcasting member of the Freeview platform as well as broadcasting on Sky. TV3 began screening widescreen transmissions on both platforms on 11 April 2007, although TelstraClear InHomeTV which got most of its content from Sky, switched back to screening the cropped version of TV3 for a couple of months due to non-widescreen customer complaints. TelstraClear resumed broadcasting the widescreen version of TV3 on 24 July 2007. In April 2008 TV3 commenced 1080i high definition broadcasts on the Freeview terrestrial platform and on Sky's HD satellite platform.

Three also broadcasts a livestream of the Auckland feed on its ThreeNow website and app.[35]

ThreeNow

ThreeNow logo

ThreeNow (previously called 3Now) is an on-demand streaming platform, on which select programmes from Three and sister channels Bravo, eden, Rush and HGTV, as well as web-only programmes, are available. ThreeNow is available on the ThreeNow website as well as on iOS and Android devices. It also has live streams of Three and sister channels Bravo, eden & Rush.[36]

ThreeNow's content library hosts several New Zealand and international programmes including Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, Come Dine with Me New Zealand, Below Deck Mediterranean, Dancing with the Stars, Gogglebox, Chicago Med, Australia's Best Houses, and Hawaii Five-O. The streaming service also hosts content from Newshub.[36] The streaming service has announced they have purchased all Warner Bros. shows from TVNZ+ from early 2024 including Friends.

ThreePlus1

ThreePlus1 logo

ThreePlus1 (previously called TV3 Plus 1) is a 1-hour timeshift channel. It was launched on 30 March 2009, as part of Three's contract with Freeview to provide at least four channels. It is a standard hour delayed timeshift channel of the Three broadcast taken from their Auckland feed that was created originally for the Sky platform, meaning the channel broadcasts Auckland regional advertising. ThreePlus1 is available on digital terrestrial and digital satellite.[37]

Defunct

ThreeLife

ThreeLife
CountryNew Zealand
Broadcast areaNational
Programming
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Timeshift serviceThreeLife + 1
Ownership
OwnerMediaWorks New Zealand
Sister channelsThree, Bravo, The Edge TV
History
Launched15 April 2018 (2018-04-15)
Closed25 March 2020 (2020-03-25)
Replaced byThe Edge TV
Links
Websitewww.threenow.co.nz

ThreeLife was a New Zealand nationwide television channel that was launched on 15 April 2018. It aired lifestyle shows. The content aired on ThreeLife was themed, as follows:

Good Chef Bad Chef, Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield and The Home Team were aired from 6pm to 7:30pm every night. During the day, the channel repeated programmes from the previous night. These aired from 9am on Monday through Friday, from 11:30am on Saturday, and from 6am on Sunday. From midnight to 6 am, a simulcast of Magic Talk was broadcast.

ThreeLife was shut down at the end of 25 March 2020, and was replaced by the return of The Edge TV a little over an hour later.[23] The final show to air on ThreeLife was Good Chef Bad Chef.

ThreeLife + 1

ThreeLife + 1 was a 1-hour timeshift channel. It was launched on 1 July 2019, in the place of The Edge TV. The station was shut down at 1 am on 26 March 2020, and was replaced on 16 April by The Breeze TV.[23]

References

  1. ^ "TV3 group in warrant bid". The Press. 30 March 1985. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Hearing begins for third channel". The Press. 16 August 1985. p. 25.
  3. ^ "Tauranga H.Q. for TV3 region". The Press. 5 March 1988. p. 9.
  4. ^ "TV3 to get third channel". The Press. 26 August 1987. p. 1.
  5. ^ Malthus, Nigel (30 March 1989). "New television channel on air in November". The Press. p. 3.
  6. ^ a b "New network to hit NZ airwaves". Business Times. 8 November 1989. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b Brookes, Emily (26 November 2019). "'Run out of money before we got on air': Mark Jennings on Three's first day". Stuff. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  8. ^ "In brief - TV3 in November". The Press. 16 August 1989. p. 8.
  9. ^ "NZ suspends failed private TV". Business Times. 22 December 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  10. ^ "Trouble at two NZ media companies". Business Times. 15 March 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Sale of TV3 Network stalled". The Straits Times. 25 October 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  12. ^ "NBC sells NZ TV3 stake". Business Times. 4 May 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Competition likely to hit NZ's smaller TV broadcasters". Business Times. 12 April 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  14. ^ a b "NZ's private TV channel delisted". Business Times. 20 December 1990. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  15. ^ "aus.tv.history :: TV4". Austvhistorynz.tripod.com. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Diocese of Dunedin and 12 Others and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 1999-125–1999-137". Broadcasting Standards Authority. 9 September 1999. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  17. ^ "TV3's owners in receivership". 17 June 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  18. ^ Paul McBeth (6 June 2015). "Oaktree takes full ownership of MediaWorks". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Backlash begins over TV3's 'playful and inspiring' rebranding to '+HR=E'". The New Zealand Herald. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  20. ^ "So long TV3, MediaWorks announces new channel name". The New Zealand Herald. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  21. ^ "From 3 to Three: MediaWorks re-brands channel". Newshub. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  22. ^ "MediaWorks to sell TV Three: 'Everyone is in a state of shock'". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Downes, Siobhan (11 February 2020). "The Edge TV is coming back, Breeze TV to launch on Freeview". Stuff. Archived from the original on 10 February 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  24. ^ "MediaWorks TV arm sold to Discovery channel owner". Stuff. 7 September 2020. Archived from the original on 7 September 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  25. ^ "MediaWorks confirms sale of TV operations to Discovery Inc". Newshub. 7 September 2020. Archived from the original on 7 September 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  26. ^ Peacock, Colin (7 September 2020). "Global media giant set to be NZ's biggest private TV broadcaster". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 7 September 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Discovery, Inc to combine businesses across NZ, Australia following completion of MediaWorks TV Ltd acquisition". Newshub. 1 December 2020. Archived from the original on 30 January 2021. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  28. ^ Discovery, Inc. (1 December 2021). "Discovery, Inc. Completes Acquisition of New Zealand's Mediaworks TV Ltd y". Scoop. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  29. ^ "TV3 Yet to Get House in HD Order". ScreenScribe.tv. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Prime Coup Bad News for HD Fans UPDATED". ScreenScribe.tv. 30 May 2012. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012.
  31. ^ "New Era for Mediaworks" (Press release). MediaWorks. 7 November 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  32. ^ "Mediaworks TV Inks New Content Deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution" (Press release). MediaWorks. 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014.
  33. ^ "New Zealand Television Transmission Stations in Operation – North Island" (PDF). Kordia. 31 March 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  34. ^ "New Zealand Television Transmission Stations in Operation – South Island" (PDF). Kordia. 31 March 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  35. ^ "Live TV & Guide". Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  36. ^ a b Plesa, Alexandra (25 May 2020). "ThreeNow review: Price, features and content". Finder. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  37. ^ "MediaWorks announce new Freeview channel". 24 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2008.