As winter's really cold weather finally kicked in with much earlier sunsets, South Africa's television ratings during June once again showed its traditional uptick as more people are staying home - but the kick-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament delivered some truly eye-popping TV ratings during June that have nothing to do sport.
South African television delivered some fascinating ratings surprises in June, like the struggling SABC3 hardly passing 1 million viewers showing it is actually able to lure over 6 million viewers with the right content.
Meanwhile viewers loved the prison drama storyline of 7de Laan so incredibly much that the SABC2's Afrikaans weekday soap scored a 4.25 million viewers ratings record by adding over 1.2 million viewers.
The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) again, as in previous months, reported some shoddy ratings data for June containing several errors, mistakes and omissions without any explanation. Those picked up discrepancies - like the BRC not wanting to list any individual World Cup matches for SABC1, different Generations episodes listed twice and other ratings list problems - are excluded from this ratings report.
This was however only until mid-June when Generations switched from SABC1 to SABC3 due to the SABC's so-called "transversal strategy" of moving entertainment shows across channels for every FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.
That schedule disruption kicked in again and saw Generations booted to SABC3, with Uzalo and Skeem Saam moved to SABC2.
Uzalo and Skeem Saam's ratings on SABC2 are discussed under the SABC2 header below, and Generations' ratings on SABC3 under the SABC3 heading.
The local youth drama Skeem Saam that started a new season on Monday and is now back on SABC1 held steady during June with its 7.84 million viewers (22.4 ARs, 64.5 share) until it switched to SABC2 and remained SABC1's third most watched show.
The Xhosa news also held steady on SABC1 during June at its 5 million viewers, as did the Zulu news with its 4.74 million viewers - both news bulletins at the same numbers as the past few months.
The 24th Sama Awards pulled 4.36 million viewers on Saturday 2 June for the red carpet broadcast, and added just over a million more viewers later the evening at 4.76 million (although with a disappointing 54.3 share).
The variety magazine Selimathunzi showed a slight uptick from 4.1 million viewers in April and May to 4.3 million.
Throwback Thursday held steady at 4.172 million viewers and Real Goboza that fell off SABC1's top 20 shows list in May with less than 3.5 million viewers, clawed its way back to 4.08 million viewers in June, an improvement from the 2.9 million viewers it had in April.
Music magazine show Live Amp produced by Urban Brew that will reset with new presenters is fast running out of steam and continued its shocking ratings plunge from 4.27 million viewers in April and 4 million in May, to 3.9 million in June as it fell from the 6th most watched show on SABC1 in April to 13th place by June.
Zaziswa was down from 4.46 million to 4.175 million viewers, Nyan'Nyan continued its slide from 4.2 million (12.1 ARs) to 3.89 million (11.1 ARs) in June, and Single Galz remained flat at 3.6 million viewers on SABC1, slightly down from May's 3.68 million.
Mokapelo slid from 3.68 million viewers in May to 3.54 million viewers in June.
SABC1's Skeem Saam, moved to SABC2, grabbed the second place since mid-June, with an equally impressive 6.67 million viewers (191. ARs, 52.2 share).
Uzalo and Skeem Saam pushed SABC2's perennial top show, the Venda weekday soap Muvhango to 3rd place on the channel's most watched list - but not to worry, the incoming ratings tide to SABC2 lifted all TV boats with Muvhango's audience swelling from its flat 5 million in May back to 5.09 million viewers (surpassing April's 5.53 million viewers).
South African viewers are completely enthralled with 7de Laan's gritty-campy and over-the-top female prison drama. On 25 June the Afrikaans weekday soap on SABC2 surged to a massive 12.2 audience rating and 4.25 million viewers for its most watched episode for the month.
This ratings record was 1.2 million viewers more than the 3 million viewers of the show's most watched episode in May, making the Danie Odendaal Productions soap the 6th most watched show on SABC2 during June and the 11th most watched show overall on South Africa television.
For further ratings perspective: 7de Laan that usually hovers around 2.2 million viewers following several debilitating timeslot changes in 2016 and 2017 on SABC2, literally almost doubled its viewership with its inspired "Orange is the new Black" turn.
7de Laan hasn't seen 4.25 million viewers in years since the soap's heydey and it won't be a surprise if SABC2 orders the soap back to prison for something like a 2018 Christmas-in-jail special or in 2019 for a prison tale redo, perhaps with something like the male characters all ending up behind bars.
The good news for SABC2 doesn't end there. Serving as its lead-in, and bringing a surge of viewers who rediscovered 7de Laan and decided to stick around, the Afrikaans news on SABC2 also swelled, with the Afrikaans news growing by over a million viewers in June, rising from its usual 1.5 million to 2.89 million viewers at it highwater mark in June with 8.3 ARs, up from its usually flat 4.4 AR.
New Afrikaans series Onder die Suiderkruis made its debut with 1.64 million viewers, Afrikaans science fiction comedy series Die Vlieende Springbokkie lifted off with 1.5 million viewers, and the Venda news increased its audience share from 1.19 million to 1.82 million viewers on SABC2.
The stellar ratings for the channel proved that audiences are available, have access to it, and what SABC3 - that hardly gets more than a million viewers for its top-rated show - could do if the SABC's only commercial TV channel that continues to struggle in the ratings, had content that resonated with audiences.
Like Uzalo and Skeem Saam did for SABC2, Generations dragged ratings for the entire SABC3 schedule higher.
SABC3's struggling weekday soap Isidingo produced by Endemol Shine Africa surged from its tepid ratings of hardly crossing 1 million viewers, to 1.63 million viewers in June, followed by Neill Anthony Private Chef with 1.37 million viewers.
The rest of SABC3's top shows in June were rounded out by Cleveland Hustles (1.19 million viewers), Khanyi Mbau's entertainment magazine The Scoop (939 555), the rebroadcast of BBC Studios' The Blue Planet from earlier this year on DStv and now on free-to-air television (861 466), The Bold and the Beautiful (716 908), and Top Billing (612 335) proving resilient on Saturdays.
To try halt the viewership decline e.tv has now started asking viewers to publicly suggest what they would like to see in Imbewu.
Scandal! remained steady at 5.3 million viewers as e.tv's most watched show during June, followed by sister soap Rhythm City in second place, growing slightly to 4.62 million viewers.
Viewers continue to love watching films on e.tv, in June ranging from Ride Along (2.72 million) and Jurassic World (2.64 million), to The Incredibles (2.42 million), Guardians of the Galaxy (2.16 million), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2.09 million) and all 3 the Night at the Museum movies rating well, to even the classic Sarafina luring 1.83 million viewers on 16 June on Youth Day.
The American sitcom Modern Family held steady at 1.73 million viewers and eNews Direct showed an uptick from 1.39 million to 1.82 million viewers.
On MultiChoice's DStv, M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel finally got some ratings competition during June from SuperSport thanks to several 2018 FIFA World Cup matches on SuperSport 3 (DStv 203) managing to intrude on Mzansi Magic's usual clean sweep in the ratings race.
The Queen on Mzansi Magic kept its top spot with 1.29 million viewers, followed by reality show Our Perfect Wedding (1.13 million viewers) also on Mzansi Magic, and Abomama (977 359) in third place.
Isibaya held at number 4 with 867 175 viewers, about 100 000 viewers less than in both April and May.
In June several of the World Cup soccer matches taking place in Russia drew between 807 158 viewers (Brazil vs Switzerland on 17 June) for the most watched match shown on SuperSport and 493 989 viewers (Japan vs Senegal on 24 June), with this match that was rated 29th on the 30 most watched programming list on DStv.