Thursday, January 19, 2017

The SABC's latest schedule shuffle from 6 February: SABC2's 7de Laan to 18:00, Sesotho news to 20:00, a new Afrikaans timeslot at 19:00; SABC1's Uzalo goes 5 days.

Timeslot-fatigued SABC viewers are in for yet another new round of programme shuffling from February - most notably on SABC2 - that will see Afrikaans soap 7de Laan shunted to 18:00, the Sotho news to 20:00, and the introduction of a new stripped, , hour long, 4-day a week Afrikaans timeslot at 19:00 in an attempt to try and lure back viewers.

The South African public broadcaster will announce yet another dramatic round of show changes to its channels like SABC1 and SABC2 soon.

The new changes will follow the latest temporary disruption of it channels' programming line-ups due to AFCON 2017 soccer tournament coverage,what the SABC calls its "transversal strategy".

The new SABC TV line-up will mark the SABC's 3rd big TV schedules change in a year, not counting the temporary AFCON 2017 schedule disruption.

The SABC's ongoing scheduling changes continue to worry the South African TV and advertising industry, concerned about the erratic nature and ongoing scheduling instability at the public broadcaster that impacts its viewership and ratings, and ultimately its ad income - a big source of the broadcaster's revenue.

After every SABC schedule change viewers struggle to find where shows have moved to. In the past year several shows on SABC2 and SABC3 have showed ongoing monthly viewership drop-offs after certain programmes were moved to timeslot where it struggles to maintain audiences as viewers fled.

The SABC announced dramatic schedule changes to SABC1, SABC2 and SABC2 in February, only to announce schedule changes again just four months later in June. AFCON 2017 is currently upending the SABC's schedules with the broadcaster that is set to announce yet another round of schedule changes that will come into effect from 6 February.

After moving the timeslot of the stalwart Afrikaans soap 7de Laan on SABC2 for the first time ever in its 15 year history in July 2016 from 18:30 to 19:00, the SABC is set to move 7de Laan again after just 7 months to 18:00 from Monday 6 February after the conclusion of AFCON 2017.

An even tougher time finding viewers?
The ratings-battered weekday soap will likely have an ever tougher time finding viewers on SABC2 in the early prime time slot when a lot of its audience - commuting working-class viewers are not home yet.

The fictional Hillside set 7de Laan will now be competing with the Cape Town based Afrikaans soap Suidooster on kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET&kie (DStv 145).

The Danie Odendaal Productions that also publicly announced the 18:00 timeslot move from February to viewers says the change is "unfortunately outside of our control. The SABC is making these changes".

The SABC will also move its daily Setswana/Sesotho TV news bulletin from 6 February from 18:00 to 20:00 daily.

The Sesotho news on SABC2 will now compete directly with Generations on SABC1 at 20:00, programmes that fight for part of the same audience on the public broadcaster and with many viewers who would like to watch both.

The Sesotho news bulletin that was moved, suffered a viewership drop since its move to the 18:00 timeslot the past few months and completely dropped out of SABC2's top 20 most watched shows since November 2016 - the very timeslot 7de Laan is now going to be moved to.

New Afrikaans timeslot block
In addition to the 7de Laan and Sesotho news changes, a new stripped, hour long Afrikaans timeslot is set to be introduced on SABC2 from Monday 6 February at 19:00.

This new timeslot block will run from Monday to Thursday as SABC2 tries to court and lure back Afrikaans viewers.

Trying to create better ongoing scheduling flow and to get viewers to stay tuned in for longer instead of flipping the channel's hotch-potch "language mosaic programming", SABC2 channel head Gerhard Pretorius and scheduling executive Thulisile Nhlapo is essentially creating a 2-hour Afrikaans TV block from 6 February that will effectively stretch from 18:00 to 20:00.

SABC2's latest February schedule from 6 February will start with 7de Laan at 18:00, Afrikaans news at 18:30, and then shows at 19:00 like Vetkoekpaleis and Kliphard (Monday), Fees van die Ongenooides (Tuesday), Geure van die Vallei and Authentiek (Wednesday), and Beter Assie Bure (Thursday).

The Afrikaans entertainment magazine show Pasella will start again on 22 February, now on a Wednesday at 19:30.

Zandile Nkonyeni, SABC TV head publicist, didn't respond to a media enquiry on Thursday morning seeking comment about the changes and was asked why SABC2 decided to move 7de Laan, the Sesotho news and introduce the Afrikaans block at 19:00.

She was asked if SABC2 doesn't consider the 7de Laan timeslot to be too early and why the Sesotho TV news bulletin is made to compete against Generations on SABC1 for an audience, but didn't respond at the time of publication.

As previously reported in December 2016 already, the SABC will also extend the SABC1 prime time soap Uzalo's run from the week starting 6 February from 4 to 5 days per week, adding a Friday episode of the soap in the same timeslot of 20:30 from the start of its third season.

SABC1 publicist Philip Mabitsela didn't respond to a media enquiry on Thursday morning seeking comment about the KwaMashu set soap from Stained Glass Productions being extended to 5 days a week.