MultiChoice's Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel (DStv 199) is a massive viewership success story for DStv, lifting ratings on the South African satellite pay-TV platform to unprecedented levels, making the channel the 4th most watched TV channel on pay-TV in South Africa since the channel launched on 2 March.
The phenomenal viewership feat makes the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel, which has already earned millions, the most successful pay-TV channel launched in South African television history.
That's due to the short amount of time in which the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel has been able to amass thousands of riveted viewers, get them to watch television for longer - and during timeslots usually suffering from anemic ratings.
The channel has successfully also managed to grow a brand-new social media community and following around a specific topic of interest - people who then also watch the channel and interact with the various TV presenters.
The sensational court trial in the North Gauteng High Court of the paralympic athlete who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day last year, managed to push news coverage of Nkandlagate and South Africa's general election during March and April off of the front pages of newspapers and lifted viewership of the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel to unprecedented numbers.
The court trial since 2 March received major coverage from global media with print and electronic media who have dedicated journalists covering the proceedings.
It's now likely that the upcoming murder trial of Shrien Dewani, now in South Africa, will likewise be televised in a similar fashion, fueling South African TV viewers' obsession for dramatic, televised court room drama.
A staggering 90% of viewers of the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel said they would want to watch the Shrien Dewani murder trial of his wife Anni.
During mid-March the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel, produced by Combined Artistic Productions for MultiChoice's DStv platform, lured more viewers than any other pay-TV channel, taking fourth place on the most-watched channels list, only behind the free-to-air channels SABC1, SABC2 and e.tv which remain the perennial front-runners.
The Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel proved more popular than premium pay-TV channels like M-Net, Mzansi Magic and kykNET which are supplied to MultiChoice by M-Net, and instantly shot up to the coveted top 5 list of most watched TV channels on DStv.
In a phenomenal performance and ratings boost for DStv, the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel managed to pull at certain periods, the same viewership and even slightly surpass it, of a show like for instance Carte Blanche on M-Net - the premium pay-TV broadcaster's number one rated show and which is broadcast during prime time when a bigger possible audience is available.
Even more astounding is that the channel managed this during morning and afternoon timeslots when overall daytime TV viewership in South Africa is usually extremely low.
The channel has pulled one of its biggest audiences on Monday morning between 09:00 and 11:00 for instance - thousands of viewers tuning in during a timeslot where there's usually few people watching, or available to watch TV in South Africa.
It means that the Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel not only brought thousands of viewers more to DStv and during times like mornings and afternoons when they wouldn't have been watching before, but also helped to lift the overall available TV audience in South Africa available to advertisers during those timeslots.
The Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel has also been a spontaneous upsell driver to prompt DStv subscribers to upgrade to higher and more expensive DStv bouquets in order to follow the televised court trial.
DStv subscribers like Cherise de Wet, a practising attorney from George, who decided to upgrade their TV household to a higher DStv bouquet for just a month in April in order to follow to murder trial, has remained on a more expensive package solely to get the TV channel and follow the proceedings.
"The Oscar Pistorius Trial: A Carte Blanche Channel has exceeded our best expectations having gained a large and dedicated audience in South Africa and around the world," Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content tells TV with Thinus.
"The channel features consistently as one of the top 5 most viewed TV channels on the DStv platform since its inception in March 2014, unusual for a pop-up channel".
"We are very excited about the groundbreaking broadcast and social media integration and positive educational feedback we've received," says Aletta Alberts.
"The Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel has been performing incredibly well. It has attracted massive audiences," Chris Botha, the group managing director for leading media agency The MediaShop tells TV with Thinus.
"Most importantly for DStv, it has grown their audience share in non-traditional time channels. DStv's daytime audiences are generally quite small, but the Oscar Trial TV channel has changed it all around. Some of the daytime programmes have performed better than some primetime programmes".
"That is one of the reasons DStv introduced the channel - not to make millions of ad revenue, but to grow daytime audiences that will hopefully stay on the bouquet".
"The channel has done well because the trial is so much bigger than any one media type," says Chris Botha.
"The trial has received massive exposure not only on television, but also on social media like Facebook and Twitter. The interest in the trial then drives TV viewership".
"A lot of clients are still sceptical about advertising on the channel. They don't want to be associated with it, as it polarising to some audiences, and also as it is seen as distateful".
"I don't believe it is a missed opportunity for advertisers," says Chris Botha. "I rather believe it is a grasped opportunity for MultiChoice".
"This live trial has changed the way the world is exposed to real life, and real life tragedies, via the media," says media agency Carat SA which compiled marketing and media insights about the Oscar Pistorius televised trial and TV channel.
Regular TV viewing behaviour in South Africa has been impacted, with viewers shunning their usual schedule as they seek a blow-by-blow account of the highly sensational trial, according to Carat SA.
"This story has gripped the interest of millions, and has taken 'reality TV' to a whole different level, with consumers having access to virtually every comment and development," says Carat SA.
"There is a great opportunity for advertisers to tap into audiences. However it was to be expected that brands would not immediately jump to reach these audiences, because of the sensitivities around this new landscape".
"Yet it is worth considering now what the future strategy will be, should this altered media playing field become a regular feature in our lives. There is already talk about the potential for a dedicated court TV channel, and it is expected that media houses will once again apply to live broadcast proceedings during the trial of Shrien Dewani," says Carat SA.