Houses to be sold off after The Block NZ axed

By Kymberlee Gomes

Up to 200 production staff could be out of jobs as the 2024 season of The Block NZ is axed.

The decision to not renew the series was made in the past couple of weeks, with the exterior of the four Browns Bay houses in Auckland almost complete.

"We've now got to deal with it," Warner Bros NZ co-managing director Mike Molloy said.

Between 100 and 200 production staff on The Block NZ will be affected, he said, adding it was a frustrating time for the industry.

It was not a reflection of a lack of audience appetite, he said, rather it was "the collapse in the advertising market".

A house on 1042 square metres of land on Beach Road in Browns Bay was purchased for the latest series of the show on Auckland's North Shore in 2022.

The house was demolished and four townhouses of 200sqm each built in its place. Block contestants would complete the interiors and later auction them.

No one had been cast for the show yet.

Molloy was now in charge of selling the houses, which will be finished first.

"They've only just been clad on the outside, there's a lot of work to on the inside before they're ready to sell."

It's hoped the houses will be finished and on the market later in 2024. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro
It's hoped the houses will be finished and on the market later in 2024. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro
He wanted them on the market later in 2024.

"Hopefully, fingers crossed that we can finish them up and get them on the market in the spring."

The homes would have three or four bedrooms and two bathrooms, he said.

Other shows were also facing the axe, but Molloy could not say which ones. Married at First Sight NZ and The Traitors looked set to go ahead, but those decisions were up to the network, he said.

"Warner Bros Discovery have made major cutbacks and that includes major cutbacks in local production to reflect the market they're living in. But as to the whys, you really got to talk to them, not me, because that's their decision."

He said the real impact was on the local production industry - with the loss of "hundreds and thousands of local production jobs".

"There's an amazing resource out there which ... they'll be lost to the industry if they can't get work.

"New Zealand's built up this resource, but if there's no local production, there's no work, which is really sad and frustrating because there's some amazingly clever kids out there.

"It is what it is and we'll live within our means. We'll look forward to the future with some trepidation I suppose, it's hard to know where we're going to be."

In a statement, a Warner Bros Discovery spokesperson said: "When we announced our business restructure earlier this year, we indicated that WBD would no longer make fully funded local shows, which includes The Block NZ".

"Existing sponsors had been told that we would contact them if the show was going ahead, and they would have first right of renewal."

The Block NZ had its first show in 2012, and over 10 seasons, contestants have made massive profits of $660,000 one one occasion, while another time profits for the winning team were as low as $4000 (plus $100,000 in prize money). Some contestants failed to meet reserve and left empty handed.

In April, Warner Brothers Discovery announced the entire Newshub operation would shut down at the end of June, with the loss of up to 300 jobs.

Award-winning Newshub journalist Michael Morrah, who spearheaded a failed attempt by staff to save its news operation, has taken a new job with The New Zealand Herald as a senior investigative reporter, focused on producing online video news content.

Warner Bros Discovery boss Glen Kyne will step down the same day Newshub airs its final show on 5 July.

Stuff will take over the 6pm bulletin on Three from 6 July with Samantha Hayes as the solo presenter.

Broadcaster Ryan Bridge will be the new host for Newstalk ZB's Early Edition programme.

In March, data belonging to 2.5 million Kiwis was allegedly stolen from the MediaWorks website.

It included some private information, such as questionnaire answers, videos and music materials, and votes relating to The Block NZ.