Saturday, September 23, 2017

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: MultiChoice, M-Net and SuperSport's top bosses reveal their personal TV viewing choices with remarkable candour, humour and insight.

Some of South Africa's top TV executives - the TV bosses of MultiChoice, M-Net and SuperSport - have revealed a bit of what they're personally watching on DStv and Showmax, sharing their viewing preferences with the press with remarkable candour, humour and insight.

At MultiChoice's DStv media showcase held on Thursday at MultiChoice City in Randburg, South Africa, the clever stage-setting opening act revolved around Mark Rayner (MultiChoice CEO), Yolisa Phahle (M-Net CEO) and Gideon Khobane (SuperSport CEO) sitting down and sharing their personal TV watch lists.

The extremely busy top-level TV executives took a big chunk of time out of their busy schedules to talk to the media on Thursday at the DStv media showcase, making a great impression on journalists through creating an immediate, and personal connection with the press.

The TV executive trio told TV critics and journalists covering television and broadcasting what shows and programming they're watching across the various channels available on DStv and Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax that is now being folded into MultiChoice's DStv Digital Media division.

"I'm finishing off House of Cards on my playlist, and I also have a series recording for This Is Us," said the always-affable Mark Rayner, MultiChoice CEO.

"I'm behind the Boks in these dark days, so tuning in to the Rugby Championship. And then, I'm keen to try Taboo on Showmax - I've heard it's a great one."

"Taboo is really edgy stuff, the Showmax team is super-excited about it and it's a cool series. The next time I get some time to binge-watch, the next rainy Sunday, maybe I can tuck in for a few episodes of that."

Mark Rayner said the amount of great TV content coming out of Hollywood and other areas of the world "is staggering". "What the big challenge is now, is try trying to help people to get to the content that they need to watch."

"It's not a case of us saying at 8pm you're going to be happy with what we give you."

"There's so much available content now, we have to help and direct people. And people's TV tastes are becoming more fragmented and niche - and not decided upon by a broadcaster's schedule."

Other mere mortals would have gone and collapsed at home, but up next was a jet-lagged but sprightly Yolisa Phahle who flew back to South Africa from a business trip in Nigeria and literally landed early on Thursday morning in Johannesburg.

Yet she still made time to race over to the cinema auditorium inside MultiChoice City to talk to the media and to answer questions.

"I do love reality shows, so I'm tuned in to My Kitchen Rules SA, House Hunters International, Location, Location, Location and Married at First Sight. And, of course, I've got to keep it local as well, so I'm keeping up with The Queen."

"You know you have parents who say 'we don't let our children watch TV; only weekends," said Yolisa Phahle.

"Liars! They're liars!" the funny Mark Rayner hilariously chipped in, followed by laughter from the press corps.

"My children are brought up in front of the TV, so we'll see how that turns out," said the self-deprecating Yolisa Phahle also to big laughter, who interestingly revealed there's 6 TV sets all through her house - something that seems totally fitting for the person who is in charge of M-Net.

"We've got 4 small bedrooms in the house, so there's one TV set in each bedroom - which people say is also not good for your marriage. We have a TV in the kitchen; we have a TV in the lounge."

"So we literally watch TV all the time," said Yolisa Phahle.

"In fact when I was a child, we didn't watch TV at all. Because my father made me read. And then we had an older cousin who came from Ladysmith in 1975 and they did not have a TV. And they watched television the whole time."

"And my sister and I who were very small then, became addicted to TV and then when my cousin went, my father actually got rid of the TV because he said 'this is not going anywhere, you're never going to become a doctor if you keep watching TV".

"He was right!" said Mark Rayner.

"So, he was absolutely right," said Yolisa Phahle. "So I love TV, and I tend to watch what I need to for work. So if we're doing a new drama, I'll research loads of drama. If we're doing telenovelas I'll research telenovelas. But at heart, I'm a lifestyle person."

"Anything to do with houses, buying houses, changing houses - My Kitchen Rules South Africa I have to mention just because it's on M-Net. I don't know if you've seen it but it literally takes a local version of an international format to another level."

"The production values, the story-telling, the characters. Every Sunday I set my clock and I watch it live, I don't watch it on DStv Catch Up, I've got to watch it live."

"I love house programmes, I love travel. I say Travel Channel but it's really House Hunters International that I watch."

Yolisa Phahle said The Queen on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is "South Africa's Queen".

"It's exciting not just because it's such a great show but it competes incredibly well with another long-running soap - and it's always tough to do that but we've actually done it, so well done to Reneilwe Sema (M-Net director of local entertainment channels)."

"The Queen is also a production company that is run by the main actors [Shona and Connie Ferguson] so we've literally taken these iconic South African actors that everybody grew up watching, and they now employ people and they have one of the top shows on Mzansi Magic and DStv and it's a great success story."

Up next was Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO who said "right now I'm tuned in to Insecure and Ray Donovan for a bit of comedy and drama".

"Sport is a must for me, so definitely Homeground and a bit of wrestling on WWE Raw and Smackdown. And I'm also watching Rome on Showmax."

"Ray Donovan is very dark. I like it because it takes you away. Everybody's meant to be moral and he's immoral. So for me it's perfect. It takes you away."

Gideon Khobane who went to New York recently with certain select media to watch wrestling for just over a week in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn after SuperSport signed a contract to broadcast WWE wrestling on DStv since September, said it's "the pinnacle of sports entertainment".

"When you watch their live events, it's incredible - the production values, the staging, the pyrotechnics, the entertainment value, it's just out of this world. I'm always in awe when I see how much effort they put into production, and just staging."

"We do a lot of live events here at M-Net. But when I see the scale that they go to - they don't spare any bucks to put an event together. Their stars are actors. They brief them that they're not athletes - you're an actors. They're some of the best actors in the world in my view."

"When I watch series I want to be taken away from my everyday life. The drama series Rome is just one of those things as well. And there's a lot of immorality. I don't know - maybe something's wrong with me. I'm attracted to like, the dark side somewhat, you know," said Gideon Khobane to laughter.

"I also want to touch on Homeground - it's SuperSport's first co-production with Mzansi Magic."

"The audience of Mzansi Magic is phenomenal. So we've taken the sports genre and lifestyle genre and put them together, and the show is proving to be a phenomenal success."

'My only gripe with Nkateko Mabaso [general manager for M-Net South Africa] is that the show should be at 21:00, but he insists on putting The Queen at 21:00," Gideon Khobane quipped.

■ The idea for this panel session was smart, inspiring, and creative, and was executed in a practical way just as cleverly as it was conceived.

■ It's certainly the first time I can remember that the MultiChoice, SuperSport and M-Net execs ever talked about their personal TV viewing choices, let alone doing so together. Again, a very clever concept; novel and new.

■ Coming right at the beginning, it cleverly set just the right tone and mood for MultiChoice's DStv media showcase since the executives were all open, personal, funny and revealing.

■ These well-regarded, experienced and formidable TV executives gave their insight, but more importantly they gave their time. Together the top-most executives - appearing personally and being personal, warm, and sincere - signaled that the press and the day's media engagement matters.

■ Upon reflection it's again odd having to hear how SuperSport took some media somewhere, who did basically nothing about it.
Having hyped up its WWE rights acquisition, you have to wonder what on earth is SuperSport's return on investment (ROI) on this.
Where's the articles? Where's the stories and reporting? Where are the interviews, impression pieces and the interviews with all the wrestlers?

It felt a bit weird sitting in a DStv media showcase as media, having to hear second-hand about WWE wrestling and how presumably great it is, when SuperSport chose media who actually a month earlier experienced it but failed so far to do much about it, and very likely won't.

If the WWE wrestling truly was this big thing, why didn't SuperSport do more, earlier, from a media engagement perspective? Either SuperSport chose lame duck media, or the press failed to find the wrestling interesting enough to bother afterwards.

■ The brain of the SuperSport presenter Neil Andrews should be donated to science to help in the search for the cure of degenerative brain disease.

In action, as a social interaction whirlwind, just like on TV, he is absolutely brilliant at absorbing, responding, reflecting and guiding.

The veteran sports anchor as a perpetual in-the-moment presenter and who was the MC for the 3rd time at a DStv media showcase, is simply brilliant at not just picking up and remembering names, but for a vast general knowledge, and for keeping every fact and what is being said uncannily in quick-access memory.

Who knows how big Neil Andrews' random access memory (RAM) is? He can literally remember tens of journalists' names after hearing someone's name just once, and brings up random facts and what people said in surprisingly insightful (and funny!) ways.