The Survivor San Juan Del Sur no-show happened in an evening that saw entire prime time schedule disruption on SABC3 from 19:30.
SABC3, mired in unexplained technical problems behind the scenes, made multiple false promises in an on-screen crawl to start the new 29th season of Survivor, now moved to Tuesdays, only to later abandon it altogether, without telling viewers on-screen what's happening.
Zandile Nkonyeni, head publicist for SABC TV channels, didn't respond to a media enquiry made Tuesday night about Survivor, asking why the show didn't start, when viewers can expect to see the show and what caused the crazy scheduling.
According to SABC insider sources, speaking on condition of anonymity since they're not authorised to speak publicly on behalf of the public broadcaster, the SABC playout division experienced technical issues with the tape, with the first episode that will now be shown next week Tuesday.
Last night, at 19:30, the problems started when instead of Survivor, SABC3 suddenly showed The Hostess with Lorna Maseko, only meant to show at 20:30.
SABC3 promised to start Survivor at 20:00.
SABC3 promised to start Survivor at 20:00.
The Survivor starting time was then pushed to 20:03, 20:08 and 20:13 - all of which came and went as SABC3 cited technical problems and played in-house programming promo fillers, stalling for time to try and fix the tape.
Then Driving in Heels started at 20:25 on SABC3 - meant to show at 21:00. It was however only broadcast for around 8 minutes after it was abruptly yanked, and suddenly replaced by The Hostess starting again with the same episode shown an hour before.
SABC3 kept telling viewers on screen that Survivor will start, but now only said it will start "late". At 21:00 Driving in Heels started - the episode SABC3 showed a portion of, half an hour before.
Then SABC3 fell quiet and stopped updating viewers on-screen. Viewers with no access to social media wouldn't have known that on Twitter SABC3 said Survivor will no longer be happening.
On social media, SABC3 viewers got no answers and no explanations to their specific questions and comments as to what is happening.
@SABC3 why are you repeating this hostess show? It is still as underwhelming as it was when I watched the same episode an hour ago #survivor— Thina Makhathini (@ThinaMak) April 4, 2017
No wonder @SABC3 is in financial crisis. Changed the schedule so much that they've confused themselves. Same show on 2x. No Survivor!— Andre Dorfling (@ADorfling) April 4, 2017
Ok @SABC3 . #Survivor is now an hour late. Unexplained problems should be explained or isn't there anybody home who knows what going on?— FireflyTheTravelGuy (@FireflyAfrica) April 4, 2017
Looks like SABC3 got junk status too...where is Survivor? Cruel to deny us our escapism in a week like this. #sabc3thestageisyours @capetalk— Pippa Hudson (@pjchudson) April 4, 2017
At 21:30 Trending SA started looking at the trending topics of the day on social media, but ignored the TV elephant in the room: the word "Survivor" that trended in South Africa due to SABC3's unsolved technical problems.
The cash-strapped SABC3, struggling with low and falling viewership, will also have to make what the biz calls make-up ads.
The SABC, already owing South Africa's ad industry over R150 million for wrong, incorrectly flighted and unflight TV commercials, will have to give Tuesday night's advertisers free spots after failing to show the programming promised, and other new local shows in the right order.
Even later advertisers from after 21:00 on SABC3, like for instance Clicks, will likely ask for make good ads since lead-in audiences were by then chased away by Tuesday night's chaotic schedule disruption.
Previous Survivor drama
Tuesday night isn't SABC3's first Survivor scandal with the CBS Studios International distributed show.
In September 2009 SABC3 messed up the order of the episodes for the Survivor China finale which led to massive viewer outrage.
Advertisers and the sponsor demanding money back, the final control worker was immediately sent home, and later disciplined; and the issue was even addressed in parliament where the massive mistake was lamented as indicative of the worrying state of the public broadcaster.
In December 2010 SABC3 abruptly delayed the start of Survivor Gabon. Weekly South African entertainment magazines that ran exit interviews worked according to SABC3's planned schedule and already put Christmas and New Year issues to bed.
The result was that multiple magazine covers - complete with inset-photos, gave away who was getting voted out before SABC3 showed it because the broadcast schedule no longer synced up with magazines' on street dates.
In Aprl 2012 SABC3 played a wrong promo during the 19th season showing a contestant already sitting in the tribal council jury although he was still very much in the show - giving away that he is getting voted out.