The viewership erosion of what used to be the SABC and South Africa's most watched TV show, Generations – now retitled as Generations – The Legacy – continues, with the soap which has now dropped to 3,9 million viewers by last Friday, while industry experts wonder "if the numbers will go back up to 8 million" ever again.
Millions of viewers have abandoned the Mfundi Vundla produced soap on SABC1 after it returned, retooled with a new cast in December 2014, after an absence of two months following the SABC and MMSV Productions' firing of the entire principal cast in August 2014 for demanding their promised three year contracts and better remuneration.
Viewers have since taken to the third season of SABC1's Skeem Saam, and there's also high buzz for SABC1's new telenovela Uzalo and e.tv's new local telenovela Ashes to Ashes starting on 2 March at 20:00 in the same timeslot as Generations – The Legacy.
These new shows are all looking to cash in on the millions of viewers who no longer watch the damaged soap.
The SABC moved Generations – The Legacy from SABC1 to SABC2 for the duration of the Afcon 2015 soccer tournament which further dampened the soap's ratings performance.
Generations – The Legacy's ratings fell further from 5,9 million just before the Afcon 2015 on SABC1 for viewers aged 15+ – the viewers most prized by advertisers and the TV industry and worth millions of rand in ad spend – to 4,7 million during Afcon 2015, and declined further to 3,9 million by this past Friday.
According to the latest consolidated ratings information this is how Generations – The Legacy did last week on SABC2 at 20:00:
Monday: 5,107 million
Tuesday: 5,084 million
Wednesday: 4,831 million
Thursday: 4,257 million
Friday: 3,998 million
Average audience for last week: 4,655 million
'Numbers aren't back to where they used to be'
"The numbers aren't back to where they used to be with a current weekly viewership of roughly 5 million," Cheryl Dube, media strategist at Carat SA told TV with Thinus.
"On Twitter and other social media people are still quite upset about the cliffhangers that the previous Generations left behind," says Cheryl Dube.
"Perhaps the storyline needs to incorporate what happened to all our favourite characters like Queen, Dineo, Kenneth and Sibusiso who we left behind 'two years ago'."
Was it a mistake for the SABC to rush the new Generations back on air in December? The soap returned in the month of the year when available viewership is traditionally lowest, and the SABC knew that the just-returned soap would also be shifting TV channels a month later for Afcon 2015 as part of the SABC's "transversal strategy".
Would it have been better for Generations' ratings to rather start the soap in February or March?
Cheryl Dube says "I believe that they wanted to get Generations – The Legacy back on air as soon as possible as Generations is one of their highest earning shows in terms of advertising revenue".
"So despite the time of year it was important to get it back on-air while interest was still high," says Cheryl Dube.
"Only time will tell if the numbers will go back up to 8 million per episode but it will be interesting to watch,” says Cheryl Dube.
TV with Thinus asked the SABC for comment regarding Generations – The Legacy’s viewership trends since the soap returned, and whether the public broadcaster has any context or perspective on the ratings but the SABC didn't respond to a media enquiry.
This morning Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's chief operating officer (COO) at the TNA breakfast briefing told attendees that "Let me tell you, the new Generations is doing well. The Muvhango is doing well".