Monday, January 16, 2017

The SABC's 2017 AFCON schedule disruption for soccer means millions of viewers will lose access to the shows they want to watch from today.

With the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament kicking off, the South African public broadcaster is from today kicking its biggest scripted entertainment shows to smaller SABC channels that can't be received or seen by millions of viewers.

The SABC's latest big schedule disruption will likely again cost the broadcaster not just viewers and TV ratings but also much-needed advertising income.

From today millions of South African viewers will lose access to the shows they want to watch on the SABC as the public broadcaster once again disrupts its TV channels' schedules for the 2017 AFCON tournament in Gabon with matches that's broadcast live and delayed on SABC1.

The SABC similarly disrupted its prime time schedules across SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 in previous years to broadcast the African Cup of Nations but is going further this year with even more bizarre cross-channel programming swops.

The move will put its most-watched shows out of reach of millions of viewers, unable to access shows like Generations, Uzalo and others even if they want to view it.

Although each SABC channel supposedly has its own brand, on-air image and caters to different viewer demographics, the SABC with programming disruptions like for AFCON, treats its channels as if they're the same and interchangeable.

Programmes specifically commissioned for a specific SABC channel and tailored to a specific viewer demo are moved to other channels where the audience demographic - although there is some overlap - is completely different; a move the SABC infamously refers to as its "transversal strategy".

In reach however, the SABC's three terrestrial TV channels are not the same.

SABC1 has the biggest footprint of the SABC's channels - meaning its broadcasting signal can be physically received by the most TV households in South Africa. SABC2 is accessible to millions fewer households, while SABC3 has the smallest reach of all three of its channels.

From today the SABC is moving its two biggest shows overall in terms of ratings, Generations and Uzalo to SABC3 and SABC2.

Another big ratings grabber, Skeem Saam, is also moved from SABC1 to SABC2 (similar to what the SABC did previously).

During previous AFCON tournaments Generations was moved to SABC2. Now it will be moved from the biggest to the smallest channel for an extended period of time. It will mean the loss of millions of viewers for the SABC for this show, for weeks, until 5 February.

A ratings drop-off is also expected for Uzalo and other moved shows.

As a local prime time soap Generations also replaces High Rollers on SABC3 which is another SABC local soap and a local TV production, for an extended period of time.

■ 2017 AFCON matches and coverage from 17:30 daily, until midnight.

■ Skeem Saam (Mondays to Fridays) and Uzalo (Mondays to Wednesdays) move from SABC1 to SABC2 but retain their timeslots on the new channel of 18:30 and 20:30

■ NCIS on Mondays at 20:00 and Afrikaans drama on Tuesdays at 20:00 have been dumped and will only return in February in new timeslots.

■ The Tswana/Sotho TV news bulletin (Mondays to Fridays) that used to be at 18:30, moves to 18:00.

■ High Rollers has been dumped and is replaced by Generations (Mondays to Fridays), now in the timeslot of 19:30 (its timeslot was 20:00 on SABC1).