By Diana Dobson
The Country TV and Jumping New Zealand partnership is a match made in heaven if you ask general manager Helen Ryan.
The channel prides itself in its exposure of equestrian, covering both grass roots local and top-flight international events, and are sponsors of the hotly-contested Country TV Pony Grand Prix Series.
“When I first started this job in 2010 we added equestrian to the channel schedule and immediately received a very loyal and fast-growing following,” says Ryan.
Country TV covers the disciplines – from jumping to dressage, vaulting to eventing, driving and even the European Championships and Spruce Meadows competitions.
“It shows there is a real appetite for it. Equestrian is such a globally-recognised and highly-regarded sport. In New Zealand there are so many people out there riding each week – it is a strong community and we are proud to be the main broadcaster here to carry this.”
Country TV targets rural New Zealand, positioning itself to tap into different communities around the country.
“Equestrian is one of the main ones,” says Ryan.
The channel has three-hour theme nights seven days a week, covering lifestyle, made in New Zealand, rural sport, agribusiness, music and equestrian.
Tuesday is the Alltech-sponsored equestrian night, running from 7.30pm-10.30pm featuring both local and international coverage. The sport also gets plenty more airing throughout the week and over the weekends – some is a repeat of earlier programmes, with others new material.
“We try for around 40% local content,” says Ryan.
Included in the local coverage is the likes of the Matamata Equestrian Group Horse Trials, Rotorua Spring Showjumping and of course, the Bayley’s Real Estate FEI World Cup New Zealand League Series and Horse of the Year Show.
The team at Country TV work closely with JXLive, who do a lot of the local live streaming.
“For us it is about putting the right content on air that attracts viewers, which equates to subscribers.”
An extra bonus for the channel was “Godsend” Kimi Knight, a photographer and competitor who helped the wider team understand the sport.
“The equestrian community is the most vocal of any of our sectors – they are very honest, so it is important to us we deliver that excellent product to air.”
Ryan says they are soon to launch their video on demand and live streaming service.
“We appreciate the loyalty of our viewers and want to hear their feedback.”
Country TV can be found on channel 81, or for more information, head to countrytv.co.nz