Thursday, May 3, 2018

Some trashy #FakeNews using a dodgy GfK survey has it that linear TV viewing and pay-TV subscriptions in South Africa are declining - it's wrong and the facts are that the opposite is true.

Some really trashy, #FakeNews reporting is being done by mindless journalists who cite on their sites that pay-TV subscriptions and linear TV viewing in South Africa are declining, by copy and pasting a trash-bad press release from GfK's "annual ViewScape study in Africa" noting how the time that people are watching streaming services are growing and what percentage are thinking of dropping pay-TV.

Here are the facts:

Number 1: Pay-TV and traditional pay-TV subscriptions are growing in South Africa and right across Africa.
It's also growing fast and shows no sign of declining, no trend of cord-cutting and the overall number of pay-TV subscribers in South Africa as well as in the rest of Africa are growing at a phenomenal annual rate.

Number 2: Linear TV watching in South Africa and right across Africa are growing.
More people are buying TV sets (meaning there's more active TV sets being used), the overall share of people watching TV (in a linear way) are growing, the total audience of TV viewers (the collective number of people available to watch TV) are growing, and both the overall ratings and linear TV ratings of TV shows in South Africa as well as across Africa are growing.

Number 3: Jumping to trash conclusions that because more people are using streaming services and subscribing to subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services less are watching linear TV and streaming viewers are dumping their pay-TV options are just that: trash. Because you drink more water during summer doesn't mean you're drinking less coffee - it's not an binary, either-black or either-white game.

Trash headlines like "Urban SA turning its back on linear pay-TV, Gfk says" and "How many South Africans plan to cancel DStv after getting Netflix and Showmax" are shocking #FakeNews and shows how journalists who don't care (or don't care to understand) copy-and-paste whatever trash lands in the inbox.

The real facts are that urban South Africa, as electrification and personal disposable income for the fast-growing middle class keeps growing, is turning in vast numbers to traditional pay-TV as well as free-to-air television.

More people are watching MultiChoice's DStv every single year as an overall group compared to the previous year (overall DStv subscriber numbers keep growing), and more people are watching the SABC and for instance every single year, compared to the previous year (free-to-air ratings are growing).

Now to the trash-bad survey from GfK slurped up by rapid reporters who senselessly do "Ctrl C, Ctrl V" without independent thought.

What I remember from my (excruciating) time as a student when I was forced to stake statistics at university and pass it at honours level, is a thing called sample size.

The lovely lot at GfK say in their press release for their ViewScape survey that GfK surveyed 1 250 people "representative of urban South African adults with internet access". Lovely. 1 250 South Africans with internet is suddenly representative of 60 million people. (And that's sarcasm - because it's not.)

Now GfK starts to make ridiculous assumptions based on the feedback from just over 1 200 people, saying trash like "20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay-television subscription."

Wonderfully GfK's international ViewScape survey that comes with an asterisk, this year covers Africa in terms of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria for the first time.

What the GfK survey "found" is not what the lurid clickbait-grabbing headlines say (meaning the reporting is wrong), and GfK's survey itself should be taken with a pinch of salt - mostly for the totally trash and unrealistic nonsense that any ordinary primary school child with a brain who uses it, can tell you can't be possibly true.

"The average user spends around 7 hours and 2 minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen," the GfK study finds.

Really? When do people eat and work and commute and like, do stuff, because 7 hours is basically your entire "awake" time of a day.

"People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than 8 hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video," the GfK survey also found. Again, really? Do people still physically go pee or do everybody nowadays have catheters?

Watching 8 hours of video content a day is implausible.

Can anyone start watching at 5pm and keep watching until midnight? Or start watching at 9am in the morning and still be watching by 5pm in the afternoon? Daily?? Puh-leaze.

Not even South Africa's most hard-core TV critics doing it for a living can do such hours.

Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for sub-Saharan Africa at GfK says in a quotable "The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers' video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption."

Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research and regional business development at GfK Sub-Sahara Africa, "says "Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents".

No problem there with both these people's prepared drop-in quotables. Digital platforms are indeed transforming consumption behaviour, and it's actually very important that real, representative and comprehensive media research is done to track and analyse these changes.

But now more trash. "The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services."

Again? Really? 33% of South African adults are using SVOD services? In a country where there's still 3 532 pit toilets at schools because of a lack of resources? Gimme a break.

Journalists and publications covering the TV and film industry, as well as the video content evolution in South Africa and across the continent, need to do a better job at interpreting and parsing information to give real information, news and proper context to people and less mindless copy-paste fluff.

And places like GfK peddling pandering surveys should really stop issuing trash when it makes dubious inferences about a population like South Africa from a sample of 1200 respondents.