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Monday, January 22, 2018

Sony is changing its Sony Channel in the United Kingdom into Sony Crime Channel targeting women, will the same be happening for Sony Channel in South Africa and Africa at some point?


Sony Pictures Television Networks (SPTN) is ending The Sony Channel in the United Kingdom and switching it to the Sony Crime Channel from 6 February, raising questions as to whether the Sony Channel (DStv 127 / Cell C black 203) in South Africa and across Africa on MultiChoice's GOtv service is destined for the same fate sooner or later.

Sony Pictures Television Networks announced that in the United Kingdom the Sony Crime Channel will start on 6 February on Freeview, Sky and Virgin - but it will happen by merging the existing Sony Channel and its True Crime channel.

The result is apparently the end of the Sony Channel in the UK, and a new channel targeting female viewers with more high-profile programming and crime series.

The Sony Crime Channel will be similar to A+E Networks UK's Crime+Investigation (DStv 170) channel and Discovery Networks International's Investigation Discovery (ID) (DStv 171) that are both also strongly focused on female viewers with schedules packed with "true crime" investigation shows.

The Sony Crime Channel will run series like CSI, Person of Interest, Law & Order, Deadly Women, Crime 360, as well as repeats of British dramas like Spooks and Hustle.

SPTN says "With a predominantly female audience, Sony Crime Channel will create a one-stop destination for crime fans to immerse themselves in the genre with a vibrant fusion of fascinating stories, heart-pounding thrills, engrossing characters and stunning reveals.”

Now to South Africa and Africa where The Sony Channel has been largely neglected over at least the past year. Here's more perspective:

In 2016 MultiChoice Africa removed The Sony Channel and Sony MAX (DStv 128), targeting a male viewership, from DStv in Africa.

In South Africa, DStv also came close to removing the channels according to sources at the time, who said the channels were destined to suffer the same fate as in the rest of Africa as MultiChoice started a drive to cut back on channels with too much repeat programming that were angering DStv subscribers, but in the end both channels got a stay of execution.

In African countries outside of South Africa, after their removal from DStv,Sony and Sony Max were added to MultiChoice's GOtv pay-TV digital terrestrial television (DTT) service because it was seen as less premium pay-TV channels with too much old content and repeats - but then the channels were even removed from GOtv ... only to eventually be added back to GOtv.

The past year there's not been much on The Sony Channel or Sony Max for viewers in South Africa and Africa to make pay-TV viewers excited, and there's been other clues as well about how The Sony Channel and Sony Max have been backsliding during 2017.

In mid-2016 Sony Pictures Television Networks for Africa and The Sony Channel was involved in the scandal of faking Gogglebox South Africa by making as if TV households are watching content on DStv that MultiChoice never even showed.

Of course Gogglebox SA was cancelled and there's not been a second season, with no word from The Sony Channel if there ever again will be one. In December 2017 a veteran producer who was involved with the show at the time, told TVwithThinus that people who were involved in the scandal and allowed it to happen actually got fired.

2017 was also the first year in about 3 or 4 years since Sony Pictures Television Networks from the UK responsible for Africa, failed to do any kind of annual Sony upfront event in South Africa.

Sony did similar upfront events like BBC Worldwide South Africa, Discovery, FOX and others, in previous years but not in 2017 and was conspicuously absent on the upfront circuit where channel providers do their "show and tell" events for the media.

Either SPTN for Africa didn't see it worth spending the money and/or doing the effort, didn't feel it had or has any content or news on The Sony Channel and Sony Max worth crowing about to advertisers and the Press Covering Television, or just lessened the focus and attention that it's giving to these channels in South Africa and across Africa.

Add also the quiet departure of the lovely Sonja Underwood, who used to be Sony Pictures Television Networks' territory director for Sony's Africa channels, and who left Sony at the end of March 2017 for all3media International, something that Sony didn't even announce.

Sonja Underwood whilst at Sony for a decade since 2007 would often directly engage with the media and advertisers, and since she left there's definitely been much less of a tactile interaction and a presence as far as Sony and The Sony Channel in South Africa and Africa is concerned.

Lyle Stewart, is still the senior vice president for the Sony Pictures Television Networks' Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMA) region but it doesn't seem as if Sony bothered to appoint any new Sony territory director for Africa specifically. If there is one, TVwithThinus isn't aware of such a person.

Taking all of this into account as background on how Sony and The Sony Channel slipped in the ranks the past year and a half, it definitely wouldn't come as any surprise news if there were suddenly some announcement that The Sony Channel during 2018 is being flipped to The Sony Crime Channel in South Africa and Africa just like what is happening in the UK now.