Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The smart secret hidden in M-Net's Survivor SA: Immunity Island call to enter promo video and 8 other must-know things about the new 8th season.


by Thinus Ferreira

There's a smart secret hidden in M-Net's brand-new Survivor SA: Immunity Island video for the season's call for entries on-air promo - here's how it was done, as well as 8 other must-know things about the upcoming 8th season.

M-Net (DStv 101) has renewed Survivor South Africa for an 8th season in 2020 with the entry process that has opened for the new season that is entitled Survivor SA: Immunity Island and that will once again be produced by Afrokaans.

South Africans older than 18 who have a passport that is valid until August 2020 have from now until 20 January 2020 to enter at www.mnet.tv/survivorsa for the change to be marooned and vote people off an island.

Survivor SA: Immunity Island will be broadcast on M-Net in the second half of 2020.

In the new call to enter promo, Nico Panagio who will once again be the host, is seen standing at the tribal council area in Samoa that was used as the setting of season 7's Survivor SA: Island of Secrets.

But how is that possible when filming ended in March 2019 with Afrokaans which had no idea at that time whether there would be another season? M-Net hadn't renewed the show at that stage and only commissioned the new 8th season very recently - 8 months after anything was last filmed on the island.

Indicative of how South African television and local producers are getting smarter and more sophisticated, Afrokaans actually filmed the 8th season's call to entry TV promo months ago and just shot it at the time anyway - in case Survivor SA got picked up for another season.

It means that the production took the initiative and made the effort even if it didn't have to and even if the footage was never broadcast or ever used, just to have the possibility of using the on-location footage to make for a cooler call to entry video in case a promo video would be needed by M-Net at some point in future - meaning now.



About the new setting - which will of course be another island or two - M-Net is only saying that castaways will be left on a "desolate exotic island" but TVwithThinus can reveal that no specific island destination or country has been chosen yet.

"We have not made a final decision about the country of filming and island yet," says M-Net. The pay-TV channel is only going to reveal the island location that was eventually chosen once the castaways have arrived on the island, are isolated from the outside world and have begun playing the game.

Why did M-Net decide to renew Survivor SA? The MultiChoice Group's financial results for the 6 months to end September 2019 yields a clue and is the only local TV show specifically mentioned because of its viewership performance during the period.

"The ratings for Survivor South Africa rose by 36% in relation to the previous season," the MultiChoice Group reveals in its half-year report.

In September TVwithThinus asked M-Net why the format show from the Banijay Group wasn't renewed yet for an 8th season despite the ratings growth.

"What we do as a team, is work out our schedule line-ups three years in advance," said Kaye-Ann Williams, M-Net’s head of local productions and independent films.

"So we have to look at how our budgets are working out, what content is coming in, what do we have the licenses for; do we have the money for it. Obviously ratings and performance help us to make those decisions – but we’re not there yet for Survivor South Africa."

"It’s not that we don’t love it, we absolutely love it. And we’re all dying to do it but the stars have to align." Clearly the stars did align!

Yes, people who had entered before for Survivor SA are allowed to enter again but no - M-Net is not willing yet to say how many castaways will be selected and form part of Survivor SA: Immunity Island and the new season.

For how long will the new season run in on-island days? Survivor SA: Island of Secrets ran for 39 days and individual episodes also had a longer playout time to fit in more story and more tribal council time. While episodes of the new season will once again be slightly longer in length M-Net doesn't yet want to reveal the number of days the castaways will actually compete for.

"We would prefer not to mention the number of story days yet but castaways who are on the jury will be away for about 50 days, including travel," the production says.

And what about the mysterious sounding "Immunity Island"? Where does the name come? Does it mean castaways go there to escape the possibility of getting voted out at Tribal Council? Do they have to search for an Immunity idol or necklace there, or what does the name mean?

"This will be revealed close to the broadcast of the show," says M-Net. "It would be fascinating to hear what our fans think this will mean! But remember, in Survivor South Africa anything is possible. The show has become renowned for its twists."

People have to enter online and submit a 3-minute video "selling" themselves to the producers who are always on the lookout for those surprising, quirky, stand-out contestants who simply pop on screen - people who are able to clearly define them from the rest of the crowd as somebody that South African viewers can't look away from.

So what do people really have to keep in mind when they film and submit their 3-minute video in order to grab the producers' attention?

"We receive thousands of entries, so ask yourself: What will make me stand out from the crowd and persuade the panel that I have to go to the island? Show, don't just tell! Don't fret too much about the technical quality. It's about the content, not whether you're a Steven Spielberg in the making," the show says.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

M-Net renews Survivor South Africa for an 8th season with entries that open for Survivor SA Immunity Island set for 2020.


by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net (DStv 101) has renewed Survivor South Africa for an 8th season in 2020 with the entry process that has opened for the new season entitled Survivor SA Immunity Island that will once again be produced by Afrokaans with Nico Panagio as host.

South Africans older than 18 who have a passport that is valid until August 2020 have from now until 20 January 2020 to enter at www.mnet.tv/survivorsa for the change to be marooned on a "desolate exotic island".

Survivor SA Immunity Island will be broadcast on M-Net in the second half of 2020.

The Survivor SA Immunity Island initial audition process once again takes place online where people have to answer a few personal questions and then have to submit a 3-minute video selling themselves, telling the producers why they would make a great contestant and how they plan to play the game.

"Survivor SA: Island of Secrets was a phenomenal success as a result of the fascinating but diverse group of castaways – from a grumpy granny to a nerdy superfan, beauty queens and our own Aquaman – who were not scared to take chances and give their all to make it all the way to the top," says Lani Lombard, M-Net’s Head of Publicity.

Handrie Basson, Survivor SA executive producer, says "If you love watching Survivor, if you have shouted at the TV in frustration and admiration and if you have said ‘I can do this!’ or if you have thought ‘I will never do that!’… then it’s time to get off the couch and onto the island!"

Thursday, December 5, 2019

StarSat adds Love Nature and the Smithsonian Channel as documentary channels from 10 December.


by Thinus Ferreira

StarSat is adding two new documentary channels Love Nature and the Smithsonian Channel from 10 December.

Love Nature (StarSat 224) and the Smithsonian Channel (StarSat 226) will replace National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD which went dark in late-September after Disney - fed-up with ongoing commercial issues at the StarTimes pay-TV operator - abruptly pulled all of its FOX-supplied channels from StarSat after negotiations failed.

This caused the newly changed ESPN and ESPN2 that used to be Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2 to never materialise on StarSat.

Similarly, the entire group of FOX Networks Group’s supplied channels including FOX, FOX Life, FOX Portuguese, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Portuguese, Baby TV, Voyage, National Geographic French, and Nat Geo WILD French disappeared from StarSat.

The Smithsonian Channel is an American pay-TV channel, run as a joint venture between ViacomCBS's Domestic Media Networks division and the Smithsonian Institution, with different channel brand feeds run in various countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Indonesia and Latin America.

The Smithsonian Channel broadcasts original non-fiction programming that covers a wide range of historical, scientific and cultural subjects with several series as well as once-off TV specials.

Love Nature is a Canadian pay-TV channel owned by Blue Ant Media which also happens to own and operate the Canadian version of the Smithsonian Channel.

Love Nature, available in the United Kingdom, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia, broadcasts documentaries and television series related to wildlife and nature. Love Nature launched in March 2006 originally as Oasis and rebranded in 2015.

Netflix is starting to get rid of its 30-day free trial period and also removed it for South Africa.


by Thinus Ferreira

Netflixhas started to get rid of its 30 day trial period offer with the video streaming service that also cut the free month's browse-and-binge option for South African customers.

Netflix's content costs continue to soar while more global streaming service competition like Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max are coming online as pressure increases to post growing quarterly subscriber numbers.

As a result Netflix, that is also cutting down on password-sharing, is changing tact in how much free window-shopping it is allowing to prospective new customers in certain parts of the world.

Netflix South Africa quietly removed the 30-day free trial period for users in the country. Customers who now sign up are immediately billed the R99 basic, R139 standard or R169 premium monthly fee according to the subscribed plan.

Netflix says free trials are currently not offered in South Africa.

Rival Showmax from MultiChoice's Connected Video division still offers a free 14-day trial - a week more than the 7-day free trial when it launched in August 2015.

Cell C's unsuccessful Cell C black that is shutting down at the end of December initially also offered a free 30-day trial which it cut down to 7 days in January 2019.

Potential customers in the United Kingdom are the next to see the free trial period disappear with the offer that has been removed from Netflix's website there.

M-Net's Mzansi Magic abruptly backtracks on promises to publicly release the Idols season 15 Top 10 voting results as it promised to do and did in the past.


by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net is abruptly backtracking on its decision to release the voting results for the just-completed 15th season of Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) with the channel that suddenly no longer wants to release the voting statistics and percentages of the Top 10 contestants as it promised to do.

M-Net, Mzansi Magic and Idols previously released the Idols voting tallies for the Top 10 weeks after the conclusion of a season.

Over 186 million votes were cast during the 15th season, 36 million of which during the last week, which were both new series records.

Shirley Adonisi, acting Mzansi Magic channel head, as well as Gavin Wratten, Idols co-executive producer at [SIC] Entertainment producing the singing reality competition, again promised at the post-finale press conference of the 15th season that the Idols voting results will be released publicly after the conclusion of the season.

The 15th season, won by Luyolo Yiba, was once again mired in controversy with scandal that swirled over alleged "vote rigging" after the Top 10 Idols contestant Virginia Qwabe was eliminated for having the least number of votes.

The elimination of Virginia saw her twin Viggy Qwabe quit the show during the same episode amidst a behind-the-scenes physical fight and altercation with a Mzansi Magic publicist that saw police support called in.

Angry supporters of Viggy and Virginia Qwabe claimed that vote tampering was happening and demanded that independent auditors re-audit the votes.

At the post-finale press conference, Gavin Wratten was asked what Idols is going to do to improve the credibility of the voting process under the public.

"Mzansi Magic handles the voting with auditors and we've been doing it the same for every season and it's a really well-controlled, well-done process. All of the results will ultimately be made public," Gavin Wratten promised about Idols season 15's voting results at the press conference.

"I don't think there's a better way to do it. It's totally above board. What's interesting though is that generally everybody is very, very happy with the voting process until they get voted out. To put the authenticity of the voting process in question because you went out is unfair," Gavin Wratten said.

Shirley Adonisi and Gavin Wratten were asked during the press conference why Mzansi Magic and Idols don't release the specific weekly voting results publicly after episodes. They said they always do it after the conclusion of a season in order not to spoil or influence the voting process.

"The reason we don't put it out during the competion is because we don't want to disadvantage a contestant," Gavin Wratten said. "If we put it out and said 'This week so-and-so has got the least amount of votes', people might go "I won't vote' but maybe they had a good performance and could have gotten a lot of votes."

"Likewise if we say who's in the lead, people go 'Ag, I don't have to worry about them because they're in the lead'. That is why traditionally on Idols and worldwide they don't show the percentages during the production but then afterwards Mzansi Magic releases the audited results."

Since last week Thursday and for the past week Mzansi Magic was asked repeatedly in multiple media enquiries for the usual voting statistics breakout and percentages of the Idols Top 10 contestants that Mzansi Magic promised would be released and that was released afterwards in the past for previous seasons.

Philly Kubheka, Mzansi Magic spokesperson, suddenly backtracked on the release of the season 15 Idols voting results and told TVwithThinus on Thursday morning that "the voting results will not be issued to any media and no exceptions can be made".

She didn't respond when asked why Mzansi Magic and [SIC] Entertainment announced at the press conference that the voting results would be released and why the channel no longer wants to make it public as in previous years.

MultiChoice was also asked in a media enquiry on Thursday morning for comment from the pay-TV operator as to why the M-Net supplied channel is backtracking on the promised public release of the Top 10 Idols voting statistics. MultiChoice didn't respond at the time of publication but its response will be added when received.

Star Wars' The Mandalorian now the world’s top TV show as a petition starts for Disney to launch its Disney+ streaming service in South Africa.


by Thinus Ferreira

The new top TV show in the world is one South Africans can't see but that thousands of people across Africa are now pirate viewing - with a petition that has been created for Disney to please make its Disney+ streaming service available in the country so that consumers can watch Star Wars' The Mandalorian.

Just three weeks after Disney+ launched as the new global streaming service of The Walt Disney Company, The Mandalorian - the first live-action Star Wars TV drama series - is the new top television series according to market research from Parrot Analytics. 

The new show is more buzzed-about and sought-after than Netflix's Stranger Things.

With a fascinating new story and new characters - including an utterly adorable "Baby Yoda" whose unknown origins is part of a new mystery - The Mandalorian quickly surged to become the most sought-after TV show in the United States as well as in the rest of the world. 

According to Parrot Analytics' tracking The Mandalorian is 31.9 times more in demand than the average of the other most popular series until now which include HBO's Game of Thrones and Chernobyl and Netflix's Stranger Things and The Crown

On the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes The Mandalorian is rated 95% "fresh" on the average audience score. At a cost of $100 million that Disney sunk into the production it's the most expensive TV show made yet.

Meanwhile thousands of frantic consumers in South Africa and across Africa have resorted to illegal means of pirate viewing new Disney+ content like The Mandalorian, High School Musical - The Series and other shows since Disney+ decided not to make its streaming service available anywhere on the continent.

Disney+ launched with 500 films and 7 500 episodes of various TV series, including new original Disney+ content. Disney chose not to make any of its new content like The Mandalorian available through its international distribution network to any pay-TV operators like M-Net or MultiChoice's DStv.

After launching since 12 November in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany and Italy will get Disney+ by the end of March 2020.

While South African consumers and viewers in sub-Saharan Africa are missing out with no definite launch date, a Disney+ boss has now been appointed for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, which bodes well for a potential future launch.

While its content is being pirated across the continent The Walt Disney Company Africa has no possible launch date to share for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa and says in a statement that "All Disney+ originals are exclusive to the Disney+ service. At this point, we have no news regarding this service launch in Africa".


Disney+ petition started
On Wednesday the South African Aidan Welman started a "Get Disney+ in South Africa" online petition, imploring Disney to bring it streaming service to the country and others, with the petition already amassing signatures.

"Imagine my disappointment when I saw and still see all over social media the 'memes', pictures and videos of people enjoying every bit of Disney+ and me not being able to download the streaming service, PAY for it and use it," says Aidan Welman.

"Spoilers are being posted everywhere and Baby Yoda is the most trending fictional character at the moment. There is a huge market in South Africa and in many other countries where Disney+ is not set to be released in more than two years if at all, for Disney, and I believe that there will be great benefit in releasing it to South Africa and many other countries."

"Netflix was a great success when it was first released in South Africa, there’s not a person I know that doesn’t have the streaming platform. I’m concentrating more on South Africa because I’m from there, we just really want Disney+ to be made available for your loyal South African fans."

"Believe it or not, there are thousands upon thousands of us here. Go have a look at box office sales for all the Marvel movies in South Africa, I’m pretty sure it should give an idea of how many Disney fans there really are," Aidan Welman writes in his petition.

Production set to resume on SABC2's Muvhango after embarrassing 3-day shutdown following the non-payment of its cast and crew that Word of Mouth Productions and the SABC blame on each other.


by Thinus Ferreira

Production will resume today on SABC2's Muvhango after an embarrassing 3-day shutdown in which the production company blamed the SABC for not paying it for two months and with the public broadcaster saying that its payments to Word of Mouth Productions has been up to date.

Production on Muvhango shut down on Friday afternoon after Duma Ndlovu'sWord of Mouth Productions told the prime time soap's crew, cast and writers who were not paid for two months in October and November that the "SABC did not have money to pay them".

In prime time the public broadcaster's Venda weekday soap lured 5.62 million viewers in October as SABC2's most-watched show and the 5th most-watched show overall on South African television.

Last week Muvhango told the SABC that it's shutting down production with no further work being done by the writers, cast and crew.

Leo Phiri, Muvhango's line manager, told the crew and cast in an email last week that "In the absence of a payment guarantee, we have sent correspondence to notify the broadcaster that we will be shutting down production at 14:00 this afternoon Friday 30 November 2019 and we will reopen when we have been paid. Sincere apologies for this unfortunate development".

In more emails Muvhango said that the production company has been "in constant communication with various players at the SABC responsible for our payment but have not received assurances that payment will be made on time to reflect in everyone’s accounts".

Muvhango told the cast and crew that the production "will be shutting down and will only re-open when we have been paid".

An insider told TVwithThinus that "the Muvhango writers have been waiting for payment for work delivered for 2 months already, and now it's going into a third month - over Christmas!" Writers were told they would be paid for September and November on Tuesday, 3 December after they got some payment in October.

Muvhango producers apparently met with SABC executives on Friday evening.

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, told TVwithThinus that the Muvhango shutdown is not the SABC's fault, that the production had been paid and that the soap has in fact been renewed for another season already.

"The SABC can confirm that the corporation has met all its financial obligations for the current series of Muvhango which will be on air until 2 January 2020".

"In addition the SABC has concluded a new contract with Word of Mouth Productions for the new series of Muvhango which will broadcast from 3 January 2020. It is imperative to state that the SABC pays the production house, which has a responsibility to pay its cast and crew."

On Wednesday Word of Mouth Productions and Muvhango publicist Karabo Disethle-Mtshayelo was emailed questions in a media enquiry through the SABC about the week's production shutdown but there's been no response yet. The production's answers will be added when received.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Sky announces plan to create its own Sky Studios Elstree complex with 14 sound stages to open by 2022, will create 2 000 jobs.


by Thinus Ferreira

The Sky pay-TV operator in the United Kingdom on Tuesday announced that it's creating its own Sky Studios Elstree as a Hollywood-type film and TV studio that will create 2 000 jobs and that should open its lot doors by 2022.

Sky Studios Elstree northwest of London and besides the existing Elstree Studios will encompass 14 sound stages and will become the European production base for Sky and NBCUniversal.

Sky, the parent firm of Sky News (DStv 402), said that the hope is that Sky Studios Elstree would also be used by other broadcasters and producers and will result in £3 billion being spent on TV and film productions in its first 5 years.

MultiChoice in South Afica has created the MultiChoice Studios name but doesn't have a huge studio lot called MultiChoice Studios.

Sky in a statement said that "development is expected to open in 2022 and will be able to facilitate the production of several films and TV shows simultaneously, with each of the 14 sound stages covering over 20 000 square feet".

"Once complete, the site will include production offices, a set construction workshop, a screening cinema and state-of-the-art post-production and digital facilities. Sky is also committed to supporting the next generation of young and diverse creative talent and will use Sky Studios Elstree to build on its existing work."



Sky said that "the creation of Sky Studios Elstree will provide a new home for Britain's flourishing creative sector and much needed space for Europe’s brightest talent. It will provide significant capacity for Sky Studios to produce more original content in-house, while continuing to work with independent production companies across Europe".

"The new studio space will also play host to major film productions from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, and television series from NBCUniversal Content Studios. It will also have capacity to host productions from third-party producers." 

Jeremy Darroch, Sky group CEO, says "Sky Studios Elstree will play a pivotal role in bringing the wealth of United Kingdom and European talent and creativity to the world."

"We know our customers love our award-winning Sky Originals like Chernobyl and our investment in Sky Studios Elstree will enable us to bring more unique stories to more viewers. We are proud to be working with our colleagues at NBCUniversal and Comcast".

Production shuts down on SABC2's Muvhango after crew and cast goes unpaid by the SABC for 2 months.


by Thinus Ferreira

The crew, writers and cast of SABC2's most-watched show, Muvhango, has stopped working after Word of Mouth Productions shut down production because the South African public broadcaster once again failed to pay Word of Mouth Productions.

SABC executives last had a meeting with Muvhango producers in a Friday evening meeting after the SABC failed to pay the production company for the past 2 months.

In prime time the public broadcaster's Venda weekday soap lured 5.62 million viewers in October as SABC2's most-watched show and the 5th most-watched show overall on South African television.

Muvhango told the SABC that it's shutting down production with no further work being done by the writers, cast and crew.

Leo Phiri, Muvhango's line manager, told the crew and cast in an email last week that TVwithThinus saw that "In the absence of a payment guarantee, we have sent correspondence to notify the broadcaster that we will be shutting down production at 14:00 this afternoon Friday 30 November 2019 and we will reopen when we have been paid. Sincere apologies for this unfortunate development".

In more emails Muvhango said that the production company has been "in constant communication with various players at the SABC responsible for our payment but have not received assurances that payment will be made on time to reflect in everyone’s accounts".

Muvhango told the SABC that the production "will be shutting down and will only re-open when we have been paid".

An insider said that "the Muvhango writers have been waiting for payment for work delivered for 2 months already, and now it's going into a third month - over Christmas!" Writers were told they would be paid for September and November on Tuesday, 3 December after they got some payment in October.

TVwithThinus was told that Muvhango producers met with SABC executives on Friday evening.

Muvhango publicist Karabo Disethle Mtshayelo said the payment and shutdown chaos is the fault of the South African public broadcaster and said the SABC has to comment.

TVwithThinus asked the SABC for comment on Tuesday evening with the response that will be added here when or if received.


UPDATE Wednesday 4 December 2019 14:20: 

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, says: "The SABC can confirm that the corporation has met all its financial obligations, for the current series of Muvhango which will be on air until 2 January 2020".

"In addition the SABC has concluded a new contract with Word of Mouth Productions for the new series of Muvhango, which will broadcast from 3 January 2020. It is imperative to state that the SABC pays the production house, which has a responsibility to pay its cast and crew."

MultiChoice appoints Reggy Moalusi as new executive boss of corporate affairs in South Africa.


by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has appointed Reggy Moalusi in the position of executive head of corporate affairs for MultiChoice Africa.

Reggy Moalusi previously worked as a journalist at publications like Mail & Guardian and Sunday World after which he became editor-in-chief of both Sunday Sun and Daily Sun.

Reggy Moalusi also held roles at other companies in roles ranging from content director to media adviser at companies like Standard Bank and Exxaro.

Recently he served in the position of secretary-general Gauteng Convener at the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) and was also a council member of the press organisation.

Reggy Moalusi has a BA Hons in Journalism and Media Studies from Wits University and other certificate courses from Stellenbosch University and the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.

MultiChoice and M-Net rebrand its Magic in Motion film academy in South Africa to MultiChoice Talent Factory ZA to fit in with MultiChoice Africa's film school initiative.


by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net and MultiChoice are rebranding M-Net's Magic in Motion film academy under the new name of the MultiChoice Talent Factory ZA to fit in and align with MultiChoice's MultiChoice Talent Factory film academy run by the pay-TV operator in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

M-Net launched the Magic in Motion Academy in 2014 with Bobby Heaney as academy director.

Copying M-Net's very successful film academy blueprint, MultiChoice launched the MultiChoice Talent Factory as a similar programme for the rest of Africa outside of South Africa in 2018.

MultiChoice Africa runs The MultiChoice Talent Factory with three different academy hubs in West, Southern and East Africa in Lagos, Nigeria; Lusaka, Zambia; and in Nairobi, Kenya.

After 5 years the South African Magic in Motion Academy is rebranding to now take on the name of the film academy is spawned for the rest of Africa, although it will still remain a separate localised film school for South African film students and interns only.

Bobby Heaney remains MultiChoice Talent Factory South Africa academy director, while Cheryl Uys-Allie remains MultiChoice Talent Factory director for sub-Saharan Africa.

Femi Odugmebi is the MultiChoice Talent Factory director for West Africa, Njoki Muhoho is the MultiChoice Talent Factory East Africa director, and Berry Lwando is the MultiChoice Talent Factory Southern Africa director.

Neither MultiChoice nor M-Net issued a press release regarding the name change and rebranding, or gave a reason for Magic in Motion academy name change.

M-Net on its corporate website says that "After a very successful 5 years of empowering the next generation of storytellers through on-the-job training and the opportunity to work with experienced producers for hands-on experience, M-Net's Magic in Motion now starts a new chapter as MultiChoice Talent Factory ZA".

The Magic in Motion and MultiChoice Talent Factory has been helping aspiring young filmmakers with one year internships in the form of a bursary programme that includes academic study as well as practical experience on various productions across the multitude of M-Net channels and SuperSport in South Africa as well as across the African continent.

Students get the opportunity to gain experience in directing, cinematography, content commissioning, art direction and various other practical TV and film production skills, and go on to produce student films as well which are broadcast on M-Net's set of channels on DStv.

Monday, December 2, 2019

MultiChoice Kenya takes financial TV channels CNBC Africa and Bloomberg away from DStv Compact subscribers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Kenya has taken away the business news TV channels CNBC Africa (DStv 410) and Bloomberg (DStv 411) from DStv Compact subscribers as part of what the pay-TV operator calls a "refresh" of the DStv Compact package in the East African country.

MultiChoice gave no explanation for removing CNBC Africa and Bloomberg from DStv Compact. Since December the two news channels are now only available on the DStv Compact Plus and DStv Premium packages in Kenya.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our customers' television viewing experience and delight them with content that resonates with them, MultiChoice did a content refresh to its DStv and GOtv offerings on 13 November 2019," MultiChoice says in a statement.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The SABC cancels Isidingo The Need on SABC3 after 21 years, final episode to broadcast on 12 March 2020 as dismantling of the struggling channel's legacy schedule continues.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC no longer sees any need for Isidingo - The Need with the show that is the next legacy show on SABC3 getting the cancellation axe and will broadcast its final episode on 12 March 2020.

In response to a media enquiry on Friday morning the SABC told TVwithThinus that Isidingo is over with the 21-year old local soap, now produced by Pomegranate Media, that won't be renewed for a further season.

The SABC blames Isidingo's "poor audience ratings during the time slot, decline in revenue and poor return on investment" for the weekday soap's cancellation, although SABC3 as a whole remains deeply mired in financial trouble, ratings problems and almost insurmountable programming challenges as the South African public broadcaster's only commercial TV channel. 

Over the past three years the SABC has dismantled and cancelled basically the entire legacy programming schedule of SABC3, including the local telenovela High Rollers, the American daytime soaps Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, 3Talk with Noeleen as well as its replacement Real Talk with Anele, as well as the longrunning Top Billing

SABC3 keeps saying the bulk cancellations are part of "the channels' future strategic direction" but fails to explain or answer media enquiries about what it means. 

On Friday the SABC confirmed that Isidingo will "be airing its final episode on Thursday, 12 March 2020."

Created by Gray Hofmeyr and making its debut in July 1998, the soap that was originally produced by Endemol Shine Africa was once a once cutting-edge local soap that included quick-filmed ripped-form-the-day's-headlines scenes and groundbreaking storylines ranging including HIV-positive and gay characters who inhabited the fictional Horizon Deep mining community. 

"In line with SABC3's future strategic direction, Isidingo has been one of the programmes that will not be recommissioned for the new fiscal from April 2020," says the SABC.

"The decision to decommission Isidingo was informed by a number of factors which includes poor audience ratings during the time slot, decline in revenue and poor return on investment."

"The organisation was faced with no option but to review the performance of all programmes on the channel that are not performing and to ensure that the channel’s content is competitive and commercially viable," says David Makubyane, the SABC's acting head of television.

"SABC3, through its strategic plans will continue to commission and intensify its investment in local productions and content which will allow creatives to come up with new, gripping and commercially viable content for the channel."

"The channel will through its content division welcome any proposals that respond to these plans and channel direction," says David Makubyane.

MultiChoice and Viacom renews channels carriage agreement.


by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and Viacom have renewed its channel carriage agreement for its set of TV channels carried on Africa's largest pay-TV service.

The new contract extension means that the BET, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV Base, MTV Music 24, Nickelodeon, NickToons and Nick Jr. TV channels will remain on DStv in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Fathima Beckmann, Viacom Africa spokesperson, didn't respond to a media enquiry asking about the duration of the new contract period.

MultiChoice recently made news channel carriage news when brinkmanship in carriage renewal negotiations between MultiChoice and A+E Networks International led to MultiChoice announcing that it would end its partnership with A+E Networks and its 3 channels, followed by urgent renegotiations and a new deal that saved the History and Lifetime channels but with Crime+Investigation Network getting axed.

After the new A+E Networks deal, followed by the latest Viacom extension, BBC Studios is the next big contract up for renewal by March 2020 for the set of channels from BBC Studios Africa that are made available on DStv.

Talking about the Viacom carriage deal, Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO for general entertainment, says the Randburg-based pay-TV operator is "pleased to share this market announcement of Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa)".

Alex Okosi, executive vice president and managing director for VIMN Africa and BET International, in a statement about the new carriage agreement says "This continued partnership demonstrates the shared commitment between VIMN Africa and MultiChoice to invest in local and international content that resonates with our audiences across the continent".

"We truly value our collaboration with MultiChoice as it also enables us to consistently deliver great African productions".

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. How quickly and easily things break: After MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic did the best awards show nominees announcement in South Africa in 2018 for the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards it's back to trash and no communication for the third edition.


"It's fragile what we know. It's gone every time we forget. Then someone has to learn it all over again."  - Kim Stanley

A gap year in 2019 is all it took to dismantle what MultiChoice and M-Net started to build up with its new DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2020 which degenerated back to trash and an utter lack of any communication with the media.

After I noted in August 2018 how basically perfect the nominees announcement media event of Mzansi Magic's DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2018 was, entropy, coupled with an apparent can't-care or don't-know-better attitude saw MultiChoice and M-Net regress back to bad when it came time to revive its awards show.

Cue Thursday evening, 28 November, when MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic suddenly decided to have a terrible DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice Awards 2020 nominees announcement media event - one which it didn't even bother to tell a lot of press and media about.

One year of not taking place is all it took for MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic's DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards process, media liason  and interaction with the press to go from terrific back to trash.

Swept away without a trace in the non-year of the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards in 2019 were Reneilwe Sema as boss of M-Net's general entertainment channels division, multiple Mzansi Magic publicists, and several MultiChoice PR people who all left.

Apparently no proper hand-over or reading up were done by anyone at MultiChoice or Mzansi Magic because the the past is the past and the past is cursed to forever be a foreign country.

It was bemusing and borderline irritating to suddenly get a press release on Thursday evening from MultiChoice suddenly announcing DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice Awards nominees for its awards show, something that MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic out of the blue said would take place on 14 March 2020.

After actually communicating and telling the press covering television in South Africa in 2018 that there would be a DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2018 nominees announcement event, and beyond that also inviting press from across South Africa to actually attend, neither Mzansi Magic and MultiChoice - now stacked with new people - could be bothered to give the media any kind of heads up that there'd be a nominees announcement and event on Thursday night for the return of the awards in 2020.

As TVwithThinus remarked in 2018, while the nominees announcement in 2017 of the inaugural DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards in 2017 created some frustration with the press, Mzansi Magic did a course-correction in 2018 and got it perfect the second time round.

Then ... bad to bad this week.

MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic regressed back to only announcing names to the isolated Johannesburg bubble of media and the champagne brigade hangers-on who often don't actually bother to report.

MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic dumbed back down on not bothering to even reach out to media beforehand to say that a nominee announcement for the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2020 would be taking place.

By ignoring the media for its nominees announcement event - after getting it so perfectly right in 2018 - MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic broke and took away from the credibility and perceived importance of the awards show.

How difficult is it to type up an email, or pick up the phone? Apparently very when it comes to the DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice Awards nominees announcement event, which appeared to be something too difficult to do for the array of PR and publicity personnel at MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic.

On Thursday night TVwithThinus did what MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic should have done and can easily do - reached out to multiple journalists and writers across South Africa to ask: Did you know about this? Did anyone communicate or bother to tell you about this?

The responses were 100% and uniformly a resounding no.

"Not covering it," said one, while other comments ranged from "who cares?" to "wasn't the awards cancelled?"

It's inconceivable that MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic would revive an awards show after it was dead for a year and then not bother at all to put in the most borderline basic external media communication effort to talk to the press that a nominees annnouncement event would be happening.

With Reneilwe Sema as Mzansi Magic channel head, as well as Nondumiso Mabece, Ryan van Heerden, Marietjie Groenewald, Kenneth Nxumalo, Bongi Potelwa-Metsing and a flurry of several other MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic public relation specialists all gone and replaced in just the period between the last time the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2018 took place, it's easy to say that it was inevitable that with the destruction of institutional memory the new nominees announcement event would degenerate back to being a mess.

It could have been different. It could have stayed great. The communication with the media could have continued on the way it was previously with this specific awards show: Standard. Normal. Perfect.

In August 2018 I wrote that "The DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2018 nominees announcement event was inspiring - not for the announcements per se, but for showing that yes, South Africa can do things like a nominees announcement right and proper."

Did Pilly Kubheka, the new head of publicity for M-Net's local entertainment channels and her new team, or Joe Heshu, MultiChoice's new group executive for corporate affairs and his new team look back at what exactly - and how - MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic communicated and what was done when the last DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards nominees announcement event was held?

Both teams have a joint interest, presumably, in it since the event has their brands attached to it.

Why did the communication implode again? Why is the media frustrated again?

Why wasn't it possible to say: "Hey, we're announcing DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards 2020 nominees, it will take place on this day, date and time, we're going to issue a press release then and then, is there anything you might need like a logo or interviews that can be set up, this is what is going to happen."

In its press release, Simon Camerer, MultiChoice South Africa's chief customer officer, said that "We are thrilled to break the news of an even bigger and better 3rd edition".

Sadly, as far as the media are concerned, the 3rd DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards for 2020 is off to an embarrassingly and amateurish-looking, back-to-worse start.


ALSO READ: DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards back for a third edition of the awards show in 2020, announces nominees.

After Leigh-Anne Williams leaves her daily Expresso post Cardova says the presenter will be back as the production company is 'keen to pursue new and existing shows and roles with her in 2020'.


by Thinus Ferreira

After Leigh-Anne Williams quietly left her early morning perch as one of SABC3's Expresso presenters some week ago, the Cape Town based production company behind the show says that she will be back in December although it's not clear whether it would again be in a daily role or in what capacity.

On Tuesday TVwithThinus reported that Leigh-Anne Williams quietly exited SABC3's weekday morning show with her name that was removed from the end-credits roll of Expresso.

Prior to Tuesday's reporting, multiple media enquiries were made over weeks with neither SABC3 nor Cardova Productions that responded to questions around Leigh-Anne Williams' exit and sudden absence from the show.

Leigh-Anne Williams' unexplained exit at the beginning of November came after Ewan Strydom left in April for Bravo! on kykNET (DStv 144), followed by Zoë Brown, who was not an original presenter, who left Expresso in July after 4 years without an on-air farewell or explanation.

Expresso added Jamie-Lee Domburg from Plumstead and Kuhle Adams as the show's two new presenters after they won the Presenter Search on 3: The Expresso Edition at the end of October and which made use of Leigh-Anne Williams as the presenter of that prime time reality search programme.

Expresso, which made its debut in October 2010 and was produced from The Equinox Building in Sea Point, Cape Town as SABC3's breakfast show, moved to a new studio complex in Westlake in June.

It's much further away that the picturesque highrise the show had been done from for almost nine years before the move. According to insiders both Zoë Brown and Leigh-Anne Williams had issues with the move with the longer daily travel distance that was problematic and contributed to their decisions to leave.

On Friday morning producer Patience Stevens from Cardova Productions in a statement through SABC3 said that although Leigh-Anne Williams stepped away from her daily Expresso presenting work that Cardova will continue to work with her in the future and in 2020 in existing and new shows.

"Leigh-Anne has been a very important part of the Expresso journey for the past eight years and is a valued member of the Cardova family," said Patience Stevens.

"While Leigh-Anne has been taking a step back from her daily presenting role on Expresso to pursue other career opportunities, this does not mean the end of our relationship with her. Leigh Anne will be back on Expresso in December, and we are keen to pursue new and existing shows and roles with her in 2020."


"While we have missed Leigh-Anne's positive energy every morning for the past couple of weeks, Cardova’s mission statement is to identify, nurture and grow new talent."


"We have recently welcomed two fresh new faces to Expresso, namely the winners of the Presenter Search on 3: Expresso Edition, Kuhle Adams and Jamie-Lee Domburg, who have been adding their own unique dynamic and personality to the show."


"Expresso is a brand which always evolving. We have grown new talent like Leigh-Anne Williams and Zoë Brown over the years and we hope to continue doing so for years to come."

DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards back for a third edition of the awards show in 2020, announces nominees.


by Thinus Ferreira

After an absence of a year MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic are bringing back their DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards in 2020 for a third edition that will take place on Saturday 14 March and announced nominees on Thursday night.

M-Net in South Africa started the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards in August 2017 and held it for a second time in November 2018, to promote and recognise South Africa's entertainment industry but didn't have the glitzy award show in 2019.

The 3rd DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards (DMVCA) will be a live broadcast on Saturday 4 March 2020 from the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, looking to honour biggest achievers across 11 entertainment categories.

Mzansi Magic announced the nominees on Thursday night with Prince Kaybee leading the most nominated list with three nominations for Favourite Song of the Year, Favourite DJ and Favourite Music Artist or Group.

That's followed with two nominations each for Kabza De Small for Favourite DJ and Favourite Rising Star, Sjava for  Favourite Song of the Year and Favourite Music Artist or Group; and Sho Madjozi for Favourite Music Artist or Group and Favourite Personality.

"We are immensely proud of the growth of our industry and we are fully committed to celebrating our local stars, and we congratulate all of this year’s nominees. We look forward to putting on a great show," says Shirley Adonisi, Mzansi Magic acting channel director.

Viewers can vote on www.mzansimagic.tv/dstvmvca. The nominees for the 2020 DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards are:



1. FAVOURITE SONG OF THE YEAR
A. De Mthuda & Njelic – Shesha
B. Prince Kaybee ft Indlovukazi, Supta & Afro Brotherz – Gugulethu
C. Sjava - Umama
D. Nasty C ft Rowlene – SMA (Vol. 1)
E. Kaygee DaKing & Bizizi ft Killer Kau – Kokota


2. FAVOURITE TV PRESENTER
A. Motshidisi Mohono
B. Nomsa Buthelezi
C. Moshe Ndiki
D. Thomas Mlambo
E. Jub Jub


3. FAVOURITE COMEDIAN
A. Mpho Popps
B. Celeste Ntuli
C. Khanyisa Bunu
D. Skhumba Hlophe
E. Siyanda Maphumulo


4. FAVOURITE RISING STAR
A. Kabza De Small
B. Wiseman Mncube
C. Simthandile ‘SimTiger’ Tshabalala
D. Thato Moeng
E. Larona Moagi


5. FAVOURITE RADIO PERSONALITY
A. DJ Fresh
B. Kgomotso Matsunyane
C. Siphiwo ‘Spitch’ Nzawumbi
D. Seipati ‘Twasa’ Seoke
E. Khathide ‘Tshatha’ Ngobe


6. FAVOURITE ACTOR
A. Molefi Monaisa
B. Bheki Sibiya
C. Presley Chweneyagae
D. Warren Masemola
E. Masoja Msiza


7. FAVOURITE ACTRESS
A. Dawn Thandeka King
B. Zola Nombona
C. Florence Masebe
D. Sindi Dlathu
E. Tsholofelo Matshaba


8. FAVOURITE MUSIC ARTIST/GROUP
A. Prince Kaybee
B. Sjava
C. Sho Madjozi
D. King Monada
E. Dr Tumi


9. FAVOURITE DJ
A. DJ Maphorisa
B. DJ Speedsta
C. Prince Kaybee
D. DJ Sumbody
E. Kabza De Small


10. FAVOURITE SPORTS PERSONALITY
A. Thembi Kgatlana
B. Percy Tau
C. Siya Kolisi
D. Bongiwe Msomi
E. Refiloe Jane


11. FAVOURITE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
A. Bonang Matheba
B. Somizi Mhlongo
C. Anele Mdoda
D. Nomzamo Mbatha
E. Sho Madjozi

A black Friday as Cell C shuts down its loss-making Cell C black video streaming service after just 2 years.


by Thinus Ferreira

It's a black Friday on Black Friday in South Africa for the struggling Cell C which is shutting down its loss-making Cell C black video streaming service two years after it launched in November 2017.

The mobile operator poured over R1 billion into the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service that is the next victim in the vicious streaming wars where it tried to compete in the small but growing market against rivals ranging from Netflix South Africa and Amazon Prime Video to MultiChoice's Showmax and DStv Now, PCCW Media's VIU, DEOD, Vodacom Video Play, Acorn TV and others.

Now Cell C black that failed to generate revenue, will shut down on 31 December 2019, joining a list of previous streamers who shuttered ranging from VIDI and the Altech Node to OnTapTV, Kwesé Play and Kwesé TV, and others.

In an SMS to Cell C black subscribers, the company says it's giving customers a Showmax voucher that will give them access to Showmax for free for 3 months and that the service will shutter on 31 December 2019.

"To fill your entertainment gap, we're giving you 3 months' free Showmax on us," says Cell C black in the SMS. 

Cell C launched Cell C black, accessed through its own set-top box (STB) called the blackBOX, as well as through web browsers in November 2017 but in late-August 2019 abruptly shut down the streaming of all of its linear TV channels, leaving only on-demand programming.

The 40 linear TV channels on Cell C black ranged from FOX and National Geographic, to TNT, Trace and Al Jazeera.

At the time Cell C black told its customers and subscribers that it was "experiencing difficulties which are affecting our live TV channels" that the IT-division is trying to solve - a notice still being displayed on the service's website.


"Our decision to reconfigure our product and services is part of putting the business on the right track," Douglas Craigie Stevenson, Cell C CEO, said in a supplied statement three months ago about the radical reduction in the services offered by and investment in Cell C black.

Candice Jones, Cell C spokesperson, told TVwithThinus on Thursday night in response to a media enquiry that Cell C black is shutting down, saying that "Following a review of the company’s product portfolio and decision to redirect expenditure to revenue generating initiatives, Cell C can confirm that it will decommission its streaming content service, black on 31 December 2019."

"Content remains part of Cell C’s broader strategy, however, we have had to carefully look at how we approach this to ensure we provide a sustainable service that customers want while at the same time offer a service that makes commercial sense to the business."

"The company suspended all linear live TV channels on the platform in September. Cell C will not be accepting any new registrations on the black service, and will be refunding customers for outright movie purchases. Existing customers will be able to use the service until 31 December 2019."

"Cell C is in the process of notifying existing customers on black of its decision to end this service."

Cell C poured R523.9 million into Cell C black during its 2017 financial year and another R523.9 million in content acquisition to buy licensing rights to TV shows, films and the streaming rights to TV channels.

In August 2018 Cell C in a statement said that 2.5 million people had "browsed" through the content on the Cell C black catalogue and sampled some of the offering with 60 000 transactions that had been completed and 260 000 customers who had made use of the free trial option.

In January 2019 Cell C black dramatically cut down its free trial period from 30 days to just 7.

In late-September Cell C in its financial report said that it's cutting back spending on Cell C black by at least R120 million and that it is "reviewing the channel options for the black video streaming service – which will ensure a saving of R120 million annually with additional savings expected as Cell C continues to right-size this business unit".

Douglas Craigie Stevenson said that its investment in the creation of Cell C black was a big mistake, noting that "Cell C black was not the right play for Cell C. We didn't have the resources to compete in that environment."



Thursday, November 28, 2019

Whoarr! Netflix commissions Vikings: Valhalla as a Vikings sequel series set 100 years later.


by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has commissioned MGM Television to create and produce Vikings: Valhalla as a sequel drama series that will be set 100 years after the original Vikings series.

Vikings, that was shown on History internationally and on M-Net and Showmax in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa and that will conclude with its 6th season in 2020 after it starts in December, is getting a spin-off.

The new series will dramatise the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived: Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada and the Norman King William the Conqueror who is also a Viking descendant.

Vikings series creator Michael Hirst is also behind Vikings: Valhalla as executive producer, with the spin-off series that will begin 100 years after the original series concludes as a new chapter of the Vikings legend, following the men and women blazing new paths as they fight for survival in an ever-changing and evolving Europe.

"I am beyond excited that we are announcing the continuation of our Vikings saga," says Michael Hirst in a statement. "I know that the millions of our fans across the globe will be thrilled by the belief being shown in our show by MGM and Netflix."

"Jeb Stuart, a truly wonderful writer, will bring new storylines and a powerful visceral vision to stories about some of the most famous Vikings known to history."

Steve Stark, MGM Television's president of television production and development, says "We are thrilled to be partnering with Michael, Jeb and Netflix on the next chapter in the incredible Vikings universe".

"Vikings: Valhalla has been a labour of love for everyone involved and as we look ahead to the continuation of this great saga, we are excited to know that fans the world over will have the opportunity to continue with the series on its new home at Netflix."

Channing Dungey, vice-president of original series at Netflix, says "Vikings: Valhalla promises to be everything that fans love about the franchise: heart-pounding, unstoppable action rooted in rich characters and dramatic storytelling that shines the light on family, loyalty and power. We are thrilled to bring the next iteration of the Vikings saga to life".

MultiChoice Nigeria starts 5 new DStv and GOtv packages for the Nigerian market, revamping the GOtv Max offering.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Nigeria is starting 5 new DStv and GOtv packages specifically for the Nigerian market and is revamping the GOtv Max package.

The new packages by MultiChoice Nigeria that remains under pressure in the West African country, is an attempt to try and combat churn, increase revenue and to provide more different price-options to potential customers who might have money to spend on pay-TV but didn't have an option at the price-point that they can afford.

The new packages with Nigerian-centric names include recently-added DStv channels for sub-Saharan Africa like the educational Da Vinci Learning channel, WarnerMedia's TNT channel for Africa, and Discovery Networks' Real Time.

From 1 December MultiChoice Nigeria will operate 3 new DStv packages: DStv Confam, DStv Yanga and DStv Padi.

DStv Confam has been designed as a "family package" with 120 channels and includes Viacom Africa's BET, Da Vinci Learning and TNT at a monthly cost of NGN 4500 (R183.24).

DStv Yanga has 94 channels including Viacom Africa's MTV Base, Discovery's Real Time, ROK2, EbonyLife and Africa Magic Epic for a monthly price of NGN 2500 (R101.80).

DStv Padi with 51 channels has a monthly cost of NGN 1800 (R73.30).

MultiChoice Nigeria is introducing 2 new GOtv packages: GOtv Jolli with 68 channels at a cost of NGN 2400 (R97.55) and GOtv Jinja with 47 channels at a cost of NGN 1600 (R65.03) monthly.

"The new packages are exclusively curated from Naija and for Nigerians, driven by great programing and affordable prices," says John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria CEO.

"With improved package options available to our valued customers, they can choose a subscription plan that best fits their needs and budget. We remain committed to give millions of television viewers in Nigeria the opportunity to enjoy world-class entertainment."

Existing DStv Access, DStv Family, GOtv Plus and GOtv Value subscribers will get a free 2-week preview of the new packages from 1 December until 15 December 2019.

The Fight Sports channel finally launches on Openview on 26 November with silence and no response from e.tv on the technical issues that scuppered the channel's launch for 8 days.


by Thinus Ferreira

The Fight Sports channel that e.tv has added to its Openview satellite service has finally come back on and started to broadcast on Tuesday 26 November 2019 without any explanation from e.tv about why the channel failed to start on Monday 18 as it was supposed to according to e.tv's announcement, with e.tv that didn't respond with any answers to media enquiries made about it.

e.tv announced on 11 November that it would launch the Fight Sports channel on Openview in South Africa and across Southern Africa where its Openview decoders are being sold, as a so-called "premium fight content" channel that would include championship live events, original programming, reality content, documentaries and unspecified "classics".

Antonio Lee, eMedia Investments COO, said in a statement that "Fight Sports adds to our endeavour to bring a variety of sports to the South African public for free. As our platform continues to grow, we trust that the Fight Sport channel will add further entertainment value".

On 11 November in response to e.tv and Openview's press statement, Lerato Maleto, e.tv publicist, was asked what the programming and show titles on Fight Sports would be, and who the channel has been acquired from and runs it. There was no response.

The TV channel's website says that the channel broadcasts MMA, boxing, kickboxing and martial arts. Fight Sports is distributed by Wide Media which is based in Estonia.

On 18 November when Fight Sports was supposed to go live, the channel launched on Openview but abruptly went off after about three hours and remained unavailable.

TVwithThinus asked e.tv in an emailed media enquiry for the first time about what happened with the failure of the Fight Sports channel on Openview on Wednesday 20 November. Lerato Maleto didn't respond.

On 21 November TVwithThinus again asked Lerato Maleto, as well as Lynn Adams, e.tv's group general manager for marketing, about what happened with Fight Sports and for help, with no response.

Both Lerato Maleto and Lynn Adams were asked again on 25 November what happened with Fight Sports and for help with the media enquiries.

On the morning of 26 November Fight Sports flickered back on on Openview for the first time since 18 November when it was on for only a few hours.

TVwithThinus phoned e.tv and Lerato Maleto confirmed that she and Lynn Adams are responsible for handling media enquiries about the Fight Sports channel as it pertains to Openview. e.tv was again asked to help with an explanation as to why Fight Sports didn't launch and what the technical problems were.

As of the publishing of this article on 28 November 2019 there has still been no answer from e.tv or any response to the multiple media enquiries that were made about the Fight Sports channel.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

MultiChoice pushes the launch of its new ‘Dishless DStv’ OTT service the first quarter of 2020.


MultiChoice will no longer launch its stand-alone streaming version of its DStv pay-TV service before the end of 2019 as promised but has now pushed the evolving plan out to March 2020 as it irons out technical issues and beta-test its so-called "dishless DStv".

With ongoing broadband growth the "internet" version of DStv is part of MultiChoice's ongoing plans to retain and capture pay-TV subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa who are able to and want to watch premium pay-TV content this way and without a physical installation.

MultiChoice is also trying to combat churn and to compete with the proliferation of global OTT players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, VIU and others who have entered the South African and African market and are starting to steal DStv subscribers away with more frictionless online offerings.

Currently "DStv dishless" is still a work in progress as MultiChoice has been testing the DStv decoder-less service internally.

The Randburg-based company has been learning and gaining valuable data and user feedback from updates and technical problems with its DStv Now service. DStv Now is currently available to ordinary DStv subscribers as an added-on bundled service.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO, in mid-May 2018 said that MultiChoice will launch an over-the-top (OTT) version of DStv as a video streaming mirror-service to its existing direct-to-home (DTH) offering that requires the installation of a satellite dish, cabling to a building, as well as a physical set-top box (STB).

Niclas Ekdahl, the CEO of MultiChoice's Connected Video division, at last week's 2019 MultiChoice Content Showcase upfront for the media in Sandton revealed that the launch has been pushed out by a few months and will now no longer happen before the end of this year but has been pushed to the end of the first quarter of 2020.

MultiChoice experienced technical problems in 2019 with the online streaming of popular programming like HBO's Game of Thrones on M-Net and the 2019 Rugby World Cup on SuperSport through DStv Now which raised technical capacity questions about whether it would be possible to launch a "Dishless DStv" version without ongoing technical issues that would negatively impact the user experience.

Niclas Ekdahl hasn't yet revealed the commercial name that MultiChoice might possible use for "Dishless DStv" - for instance DStv Plus, DStv+ or DStv-i - nor pricing, or the way in which this new service will differ from the DTH version of DStv.

Niclas Ekdahl however showed journalists how much the interface and capabilities of DStv Now have already changed over the past few years to develop and make it its own distinct service, with its own look and feel.

DStv Now recently introducing "profiles" and no longer looks like the "satellite DStv" version and which is how it looked like when MultiChoice started this service.