Wednesday, July 6, 2022

INTERVIEW. New National Geographic series Vikings: The Rise & Fall reveals more than you ever wanted to know about these legendary warriors.


by Thinus Ferreira

Take a guess why it's called Normandy in France and Norway? And guess where words like egg, anger, knife, elves and trolls, and even the days of the week like Thursday ("Thor's day) come from? And you don't want to know - but you secretly will want to know, about the "blood eagle" torture method of the gggghaaaaarrr ... Vikings!

The Vikings invaded the world in 1000 AD and a brand-new 6-episode, historical documentary series, Vikings: The Rise & Fall, produced by Dash Pictures and Night Train Media is filled with fascinating Viking lore you never knew you wanted to know.

Prof. Stefan Brink, a professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Cambridge - and no, he's definitely not Afrikaans or from South Africa - is an expert in Vikings and Old Norse culture at the University of Cambridge and is one of the people who appears in the new documentary series on National Geographic on Wednesday nights.

After previewing all 6 episodes of the new series, I sat down with him to ask him about the frightening and fascinating Viking culture you definitely want to know about.


What is the biggest legacy of the Vikings?
Prof. Stefan Brink: There are a lot of legacies - a language legacy for instance, which you especially find in the English language. 

There's also the legacy of expanding the world, when the Norsemen in 1000 AD explored and travelled the West and East. And Vikings were notorious during this period.
The Vikings were peaceful traders but also awful raiders.




In episode 2 or 3 you explain about the legend of the "blood eagle" - a horrific torture method of the Vikings which I didn't know about and which viewers will have to watch for themselves what it actually was. Was that a legend the Vikings invented to scare people or is it fact?
Prof. Stefan Brink: Well, (he laughs), it's really complicated!

It is something that students I've had in the United Kingdom picked up on and then want to write an essay about. I started to look around about what we actually know about this, and it's inconclusive. Up to today we don't know, but it's absolutely awful to just think about it! So I hope it's not true.

But fascinating though!
Prof. Stefan Brink: Is that the right word? Ha, ha.


What story or anecdote about the Vikings fascinates you most? I had no idea and you discover it in the series that from Vikings is where Russia's name comes from, that they would sing rhymes to navigate by the stars.
Prof. Stefan Brink: There are incredible things from this period from the Vikings. 

You mention the name "Rus". In the West they colonised the North Atlantic, and their brutal legacy is, of course, something picked up on the internet and Hollywood has made so many series and movies about the Vikings.

Also, there were the trading Vikings, and the main thing they traded was ... human beings. Slaves. Again, not particularly nice. 

It's in the Anglo-Saxon world that Vikings became a hot thing, a buzzword.
What's interesting for me personally is what happened in Scandinavia during this period, which was an extremely dynamic period - probably the most dynamic period in Scandinavia during these 200 years. That is for me the most fascinating thing.


Thursday we get from Thor and we get so many other English words from the Vikings and we don't even know it from sister to bread and so many more. In terms of the cultural assimilation process, the Vikings accepted Christianity, but the world took a lot from Viking culture that has lasted and been ingrained into our global culture for millennia. Why were the Vikings so dominant?
Prof. Stefan Brink: It was a mutual exchange, of course. 

We have a lot of Scandinavian words which came into the English language - law, window. But we also had an impact coming from abroad on the Vikings and into Scandinavia.

A good example would be: How would a posh, male Viking look like in a Viking town in Sweden? Well, probably something like Johnny Depp as a pirate, something like that - totally eclectic with a Rusian hat and trousers from a Muslim area in the Middle East, and fancy stuff from Ireland.

These people we call the Vikings, they lived in the periphery of the known world in Europe. So Scandinavia was the last to be dominated by the Christian church - it's only from around the year 1000 AD that Christiandom has an impact on Scandinavia. It was not until 1100 AD that we have a more stable church and a stable Christianity by 1103 AD.

In the 12th century the church we really see the church establishing itself and then with the church that is really if you like, the end of the Viking Period because they are the guarantor for a new kind of society which during the Middle Ages become the dominant power in Scandinavia.


In one of the episodes, in terms of fire, the series explains that the Vikings would torch everything after a raid because they believed fire and burning would make it harder for the ghosts of the dead to return and haunt them. 
But then in one of the episodes about the Viking boats - they burnt them as well, cast adrift in their boat when a Viking died. Is the reason for fire and burning their own, for the same reason and not wanting their own people to return either?
Prof. Stefan Brink: It's two different reasons.

When Vikings raided a monastery, you lit the monastery on fire because you are a nasty guy. But if you bury a Viking king or a chieftain in his boat - for instance with his horses and his weaponry and food and other precious belongings - then you lit the boat on fire as a ritual.

You can see the smoke going up from the dead, up towards the heavens. We interpret it as a ritual where this deceased goes into the afterlife - Valhalla. So it's two different things.

Vikings: The Rise & Fall is on National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220) on Wednesdays at 21:00, from 29 June 2022.

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. Gebroke Harte: Why everyone is a loser in the e.tv DStv TV channels war.


by Thinus Ferreira

There's a loss of innocence and a sadness hardly ever spoken about, publicly acknowledged properly, or given due importance when it happens but chances are you've endured it several times already since you've been a toddler - and will likely some more as you age: The sudden end of a TV show and story you've been watching faithfully, or a go-to TV channel you've loved, suddenly ripped away. 

It's horrible when it happens because the feelings and questions are always the same and remain for long afterwards; when people and stories you've watched and who feel like friends, are just gone: Why did they have to leave? What happened to a proper goodbye? Who decided this?

In June South African TV viewers lost again when another 5 broad, general entertainment TV channels disappeared from their DStv channel line-up: A+E Networks' Lifetime, as well as eMedia's channels like eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and the kids channel eToonz. 

The Muslim religion channel ITV was also gone by mid-June from DStv.

It means no more Little Women and Ms Juicy, no more Postman Pat; no more of e.tv's dubbed Turkish telenovelas like the hugely popular Gebroke Harte

As traditional linear satellite television services the world over struggle to keep the value proposition of their legacy bundling of TV channels going as it is constantly unravelling and getting diluted, it's more important than ever for traditional pay-TV operators and TV channel suppliers to work together to keep the TV pool as full as possible for as long as possible.

As more and more linear TV channels lose shows and content which are jumping to video-on-demand (VOD) streaming, as more and more linear TV channels simply shut down, and as more and more new prestige TV shows are made directly for streamers and no longer for studios' own linear TV channels, it is in everyone's interest to collective work together to protect what's left of the traditional direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV ecosystem.

Everyone once again became a loser a little bit more when e.tv's TV channels disappeared on 31 May from DStv: MultiChoice, eMedia, South Africa's TV industry and most importantly, the South African TV viewer.

It was and is in both eMedia and MultiChoice's best interest to work together and to keep linear TV channels that still exist, like eExtra, on something like DStv. 

While it seems like South Africa and the world are still filled with hundreds of traditional linear TV channels, the truth is that the TV channels you've been watching are becoming an endangered species.

When and as traditional TV channels - whether packaged in South Africa, or acquired internationally like America - start to dry up one by one over time, like A+E Networks' Lifetime which became the latest one lost as the TV content licensing business is rapidly changing, the traditional satellite pay-TV bundle is edging closer and closer to collapse.

What happens the day when a TV viewer says: There are no longer enough linear TV channels, or not enough content on the carried linear TV channels, to make buying a traditional satellite TV bundle package worth it?

eMedia is losing out on a large number of viewers which will dent its income derived from advertising revenue. In turn, it means less money for eMedia to actually acquire programming for channels like eExtra or eMovies. It weakens, over time, the value of those channels and of a South African company trying to package and provide linear TV channels from South Africa to South Africans.

MultiChoice is losing out on average to above-average TV channels that strengthened the overall value of the DStv bundle - something that is maybe taken for granted now, but that shouldn't be under-estimated. 

The ordinary South African TV viewer is also losing out, as once again, stories and shows they've watched, just end and are no longer available to watch where and how they've started watching it. 

DStv subscribers who were introduced to the flurry of dubbed Turkish telenovelas that over the past few years became really popular on eExtra (so much so that M-Net is now also getting into the Afrikaans dubbing business of Turkish telenovelas for its kykNET & Kie channel), now have to switch to Openview if they want to continue watching a story they've already invested their time and attention in. 

Once again people are having their viewing and favourite shows abruptly cut off and taken away because companies can't get along, can't sit down and negotiate and can't come to a mutually beneficial commercial agreement for the sake of those at the bottom of the TV biz pyramid: you - the paying TV consumer. 

It's all so unnecessary.

Millions of ordinary pay-TV consumers in South Africa are not looking for the latest, made-to-win-an Emmy prestige miniseries from America. 

They want access to general, mostly-decent, run-of-the-mill content for their kids, sports on Saturdays, and telenovelas and soap during dinner time on weeknights in prime time. 

They want a bit of news. They want movies. And they watch Anaconda (again) even though they say they're tired of it - because it's scary, yet familiar and a Saturday or Sunday night ritual for the whole family like a TV-trip version of going to the amusement park. 

Perhaps you've grown up in a city and have never thought twice about a certain shop from a specific retailer simply just being available where you live - in fact, maybe even many branches. 

But think for a moment of the consumer living in a small town and ask them. They'll tell you that every single shop matters, greatly; that the mere existence, or arrival or opening of a small shop from a known retail brand "just like they have in the city" is often a cause for celebration because it's not taken for granted.

It's perhaps easy to dismiss an eToonz, or eMovies Extra or a Lifetime. After all, there are so many other kids channels, so many other movie channels, and a lifetime's worth of other TV channels to watch, right?

The almost unnoticeable danger is that the loss of every single TV channel moves the traditional linear satellite TV bundle closer and closer from a large TV city, to a small TV town - one where no one wants to go to.

The inexorable loss of linear is gradual. The Kardashians used to be on E! and now we're watching them on Disney+. 

It's time for linear TV channel suppliers like eMedia, channel and content distributors locally and internationally, and platform operators like MultiChoice to realise that the level of their collective TV content pool is precipitously dropping and to come together to slow the loss of every drop as much as possible.

If they don't start to really work together to save the linear TV bundle as we have known it, they won't just lose out. They'll lose us.

Vodacom Video Play streaming service bites the dust as it gets out of buying video content upfront.

by Thinus Ferreira

Vodacom Video Play has become the latest video streaming service to bite the dust in South Africa, with the telecom that has pulled the plug on its multi-million rand streaming venture just short of seven years and getting out of the business of acquiring video content directly, rather letting consumers buy data and watch Netflix or any of the other rival local and international streamers.

Vodacom Video Play, which by the end of March 2019 had 869 000 active users and reached a high point of over 9 000 film and series titles in its content carousel, joins the video streaming scrapheap littered with tried-and-failed streamers in South Africa like Cell C black, VIDI, the Altech Node, MTN's FrontRow (later rebranded VU), PCCW Global's OnTapTV, Kwesé Play and Kwesé TV, and others.

South African video streamer customers have a growing flurry of remaining choices, ranging from Netflix SA, Disney+, MultiChoice's Showmax, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, to TelkomONE, eMedia Investment's eVOD, PCCW Global's VIU, BritBox SA, Acorn TV and a few more.

Meanwhile, the South African public broadcaster plans to launch SABC+ around September this year, as Paramount+ is expected to debut in early 2023, and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) is expected to roll out its combined HBO Max and Discovery+ streamer at some point in South Africa as well, with NBCUniversal yet to bring Peacock to the country.

Vodacom had high aspirations for Video Play when it launched in August 2015, with the telecom that said it planned to add further linear TV channels and even its own set-top box. After adding The Bold and the Beautiful American daytime soap to Vodacom Video Play in October 2019, Vodacom said the content was "blowing the lights out".

In November 2020 Vodacom started to offer customers Amazon Prime Video for free for half a year, and in March 2021 Vodacom Video Play snagged its final big get by acquiring the rights to The Justice League Snyder Cut from WarnerMedia before Showmax or M-Net could get it.

After Vodacom pulled the Video Play app from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, and removed the Vodacom Video Play website, Vodacom told customers simply to "Please take note that as of 30 June 2022, this service will no longer be available".

Byron Kennedy, Vodacom spokesperson, confirmed to TVwithThinus that Video Play has been shuttered from 1 July 2022.

"From 1 July 2022, the Video Play service was decommissioned completely, meaning users can no longer access the service."

"Given the rapid evolution of content streaming in recent times, Vodacom has taken a position to become an enabler for consumers to access the growing demand for video and content streaming through our add-to-bill capability and our VodaPay Super App."

"This will enable customers to access quality SVOD services currently available in the market. The move is also aligned to the VodaPay strategy, which promises customers an all-in-one lifestyle marketplace."

Vodacom says it has "migrated all its Video Play customers to a free-mode model, with the subscription functionality decommissioned, meaning between the first quarter of 2021 up to 30 June 2022, customers still enjoyed free content on the Video Play platform."

Vodacom didn't want to say what the company's multi-million rand investment in infrastructure, video streaming network set-up and content acquisition for Vodacom Video Play had been over the past seven years.

Vodacom says it started scaling down Vodacom Video Play in 2021. "It was a deliberate gradual decline in users as we implemented our new strategy which included a move away from content acquisitions," says Byron Kennedy.

Will Vodacom be replaced by a new video streaming service, or is the telecom rather going to focus on supplying data for customers to watch services like Netflix SA or Amazon Prime Video on devices?

"The discontinuation of Video Play is a strategic decision to no longer be an upfront purchaser of content in keeping up with our launch of VodaPay, which is our lifestyle Super App where we provide access to a variety of third-party content services, and products from over 90 merchants."

"This will see Vodacom move to a subscription service model which will offer our customers a variety of subscription bundles for the large variety of local and global entertainment services through our lifestyle app, VodaPay."

Vodacom says it will continue to offer customers access to other video streamers and services.

"Vodacom's move to a subscription service model promises to offer customers a variety of subscription bundles from a variety of local and international entertainment services offered through the VodaPay Super App."

Friday, June 17, 2022

TV REVIEW. Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ is the sterling Star Wars character study you've been longing for.


8 TV's  
 
 

by Thinus Ferreira

The 6-episode limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ is sterling Star Wars: In short, these are the episodes you've been looking for.

With Ewan McGregor back as now a Jedi-in-hiding on Tatooine and Hayden Christensen reprising his role from the Star Wars prequel films as well (the angry Anakin now turned to the dark side as Darth Vader), Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Star Wars character study that's emotional, beautifully done, and a perfect fill-in-the-history gap between Star Wars Episodes III and IV.

As if The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett were practice-makes-perfect precursors to doing Star Wars as episodic television, Obi-Wan Kenobi shines as near-perfect prestige television in the streaming age.

The return of Obi-Wan with Ewan McGregor simply living and fully embodying the role, is emotional TV watching and more than everything a Star Wars fan could ever want. The first two episodes are filled with foreboding, beautiful realism for an exotic galaxy so far away, nostalgia of what you remember and is instantly back from the prequels and then more.

Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like the best Star Wars TV series yet, with iconic characters back for a well-deserved and functional curtain call, and with director Deborah Chow flexing her Star Wars muscles from The Mandalorian to push the envelope with ease even further.

In a physical setting, as well as a metaphysical circumstance, of loss, desolation, disconnection, regret and hiding, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ thrives. These are dark times in the galaxy - how apt that that world so far away resonates with echoes of our own world in 2022.

The masterful Obi-Wan Kenobi is very special Star Wars - as TV it functions with clear affection as a story/film in a kind of Episode 3.5-bridge between the prequels and original trilogy. It's cinematic, surprising, emotional, unexpected, sorrowful and sad with a dash of hope. 

Living in a world lost, Ewan McGregor's iconic and solitary character can't be his authentic self. He has to physically and mentally hide who he really is. Meanwhile, he's hovering-watching over Luke Skywalker - already noticing the same spirit of adventure and Jedi-potential in the 10-year old there was in his father, Anakin.

(Little surprise: There are still pockets of beauty, gleaming technology and joy in this galaxy: It's not just a 10-year old Luke on Tatooine you'll see. There's also his 10-year old bun-haired twin sister on Alderaan, as well as several other surprise appearances of old and well-known characters.

The Inquisitors as Jedi hunters are a more than apt menacing addition to the story. "What happened to you - you were once a great Jedi?" asked a character in the first episode. "The time of the Jedi is over," Obi-Wan intones with a tired voice. 

But yes, he does rise to the occasion, eventually, for another rescue mission, and one last fight.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is on Disney+.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

MultiChoice: Despite erosion DStv Premium subscriber segment remains important.


by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice says its top-end and most-valuable DStv Premium subscribers which saw ongoing customer erosion for a fifth year in a row remain important and that it's adapting to try and lower churn in this segment as customers cancelled because of affordability, emigration and a content slate not matching changing viewer needs.

MultiChoice meanwhile has set itself the target of spending half of its annual general entertainment budget on local content produced in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa by 2024, as it discovered that its content line-up for its mid-market DStv subscribers has been unhelpful in retaining them.

Speaking to investors on the company's annual investors call, following the publication of its latest financial results for the year ending on 31 March 2022, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said the company has been "reviewing its dependence on the Premium base by actively growing the mid and mass-market customer base".

During the period, the company's DStv Premium subscriber base again shrank by 4%.

By the end of the published financial year, MultiChoice had 1.4 million DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers in South Africa, with the Randburg-based satellite pay-TV service continuing to see its subscriber growth now coming from its mass-market focused, lower-tiered DStv packages.

The decrease in DStv Premium subscribers, and increase in lower-tiered DStv customers, as part of the overall DStv subscriber base mix, means that MultiChoice's blended average revenue per user (ARPU) once again dropped further from R277 to R269.   

Premium DStv subscribers are leaving for video streaming options like Netflix SA and others, saying that DStv Premium no longer offers enough value for the high consumer price point.

"The past few years saw an erosion in our Premium base due to pressure on affordability in a tough economic environment, a rise in emigration, and a content slate that was perhaps not optimised for the changing demographics of our customer base," Calvo Mawela told investors. 

"Given its absolute contribution, Premium remains important and retention has been a key focus of our recent strategy. Our efforts are paying off and this year saw a welcome deceleration in the rate of decline from 8% last year to only 4%."

He said "another key part of our strategy for the South African business which is maturing at the high end is the launch of new products and services to grow ARPU (average revenue per user) over time".

Calvo Mawela told investors that MultiChoice's "content teams will continue to invest behind our local content strategy where we are targeting to spend half of our annual general entertainment budget on local content by the 2024 financial year."

"The year ahead will not be without challenges. High inflation is likely to affect consumers across our markets and some may have to reprioritise their spending in the short term. At the same time, people are likely to spend more time at home, which could be a positive for us," he said.


Lots of consumers under pressure
"We have always said that we think DStv Premium will get to a stage where it stabilises because everybody that will be on Premium, will be at the higher end of the market that will like to have all video entertainment at a given point in time," he said.

"We believe that we're getting close to that stabilisation point where we'll have the high end sitting on Premium, and marginal increases in pricing will not affect them that much."

"In the mid-segment, as we've reported, we are seeing a lot of consumers under pressure as a result of unemployment, and people having lost their jobs and that is an area that we think is still going to be a pain point in the financial year," he explained.


DStv content line-up unhelpful
Calvo Mawela told investors "what we are beginning to pick up as well in the middle segment is that our content line-up as well has not helped in this regard, especially towards the end of the financial year".

"We think it will be a pain point but we are actively working hard to make sure that we retain as much customers as we can."

"Mass market will continue to grow; we don't see any problems there. We think the product demonstrates value and people love our product very well and we have not seen a slowdown in decoder sales in South Africa in the mass market."

⭕️🔺🟥 How far will you go? ⭕️🔺🟥 South Africans can now enter Netflix's Squid Game reality competition show as 456 global players try to win $4.56 million.


by Thinus Ferreira

Run when the dolly's eyes are closed! South Africans can now enter Squid Game: The Challenge, with Netflix that is turning its global, hit drama series about a brutal and apocalyptic reality contest into a real-life reality series with 456 contestants and one winner who will get $4.56 million (R72.9 million). No contestants will die. 

Netflix has announced that its Korean drama series Squid Game, currently in production on a second season, is being spun off into a global reality show with the biggest prize money for a show ever - $4.56 million (R72.9 million).

The horrific drama series in which 456 players who are all in big financial trouble compete in deadly children's games inside a deadly reality show, became Netflix's most-watched show ever after its debut in September 2021, with over 1.65 billion hours viewed globally.

The 10-episode Squid Game: The Challenge will be produced in the United Kingdom with 456 players from across the globe who will compete against each other in games based on the series, plus new additions, with the show's format all connected to the origins of Squid Game and with players put through their paces in a series of tough games testing their strategies, alliances and character as they are eliminated round after round until just one is left.

People worldwide can enter, including South Africans who are older than 21, have a passport and who will be able to travel to the UK for four weeks in early-2023 for filming. 

People who want to enter can go to SquidGameCasting.com and must upload a 1-minute video in landscape mode, telling the show about yourself, why you want to be on Squid Game: The Challenge, what your game plan would be and what you would do with a huge cash prize if you won. Two recent photos must also be uploaded and contestants must be able to speak English.

Squid Game: The Challenge is co-produced by Studio Lamberts, with Stephen Lambert, Tim Harcourt, and Toni Ireland as executive producers, as well as John Hay, Nicola Hill, and Nicola Brown from The Garden which is part of ITV Studios, as executive producers as well.

"Squid Game took the world by storm with director Hwang's captivating story and iconic imagery," says Brandon Riegg, Netflix vice president of unscripted and documentary series.

"We're grateful for his support as we turn the fictional world into reality in this massive competition and social experiment. Fans of the drama series are in for a fascinating and unpredictable journey as our 456 real world contestants navigate the biggest competition series ever, full of tension and twists, with the biggest ever cash prize at the end."

"Recruitment is open now at SquidGameCasting.com. For this round, the Front Man is in search of English-language speakers from any part of the world."

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

TV RATINGS May 2022: Blackouts, analogue switch-off wipe millions from South Africa's TV ratings in May.


by Thinus Ferreira

South African television shed a shocking over 4.2 million viewers in prime time during May as TV ratings tanked because of Eskom's Stage 4 electricity blackouts, combined with the ongoing switch-off of analogue TV signal transmitters.

South Africa's TV ratings - as the country starts to move from autumn into winter - were supposed to show a slight increase as cooler weather and an earlier sunset keep more TV households indoors.

Yet the country's most-watched shows during prime time on SABC1, SABC2, e.tv and MultiChoice's DStv were damaged by massive viewership drop-offs during May as Stage 4 Eskom load-shedding kicked in at 17:00, lasting until 22:00.

Uzalo and Generations on SABC1 as South Africa's two most-watched shows plunged by a combined 1.6 million viewers during May. Uzalo shed 687 950 viewers, falling from 6.4 million in April to 5.7 million viewers. Generations - The Legacy lost almost a million viewers: 928 965 fewer viewers from 5.56 million to 4.63 million viewers in May.

SABC2's most-watched show, Muvhango, lost a whopping 876 721, plunging from 3.28 million to 2.4 million viewers in May.

e.tv's two most-watched shows also took a hammering: Scandal fell by 454 506 viewers from 5.27 million to 4.82 million viewers, while House of Zwide lost 69 030 viewers from 4.58 million to 4.52 million viewers.

The channel's timeslot switcheroo of Imbewu and its risque new local telenovela The Black Door brought further bad TV ratings for e.tv's for both shows for a second month in a row, with Imbewu shedding 531 656 viewers, falling from 2.86 million to 2.32 million viewers, and with The Black Door plunging 217 964 viewers from 2.44 million to 2.23 million viewers.  

SABC3 turned in its second-worst ratings performance of the year, topping out at just 518 197 viewers at most for an episode of the BBC's Serengeti natural history series and everything else down as analogue signal switch-off keeps taking further TV household number bites out of the channel's potential audience. 

To note: SABC3 is the SABC's TV channel most-affected by the ongoing Sentech analogue TV signal transmission switch-off.

On pay-TV, Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) saw Gomora sag by losing 150 368 DStv subscribers from 1.27 to 1.12 million viewers, while The Queen shed 325 234 viewers from 1 077 302 to 752 068.


Some uppers among the downers
On SABC2 the Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan showed slight improvement during June, up from a low 897 739 viewers to 1 040 016 viewers in May.

Morning Live on SABC2 also remained buoyant, improving from a great 482 301 to 492 423 viewers in May. 

On e.tv its South Africa Tonight news at 19:00 was marginally up from 1.67 million to 1.7 million viewers in May, while the 20:00 e.tv News bulletin which went through a retrenchment process in May decreased slightly from 1.92 million to 1.75 million viewers in May.

The cancelled Durban Gen rose slightly from 2.75 million to 2.82 million viewers during May.

Warner Bros. Discovery's TLC channel does gay pride content in June 2022 but just for South Africa.


by Thinus Ferreira

Warner Bros. Discovery will be celebrating Pride month with a line-up of gay-related content from today until 26 June for its TLC channel (DStv 135) in Africa carried on MultiChoice's DStv but just shown in South Africa.

Following complaints from governments in other African countries in previous years, Warner Bros. Discovery is self-censoring, with the LGBTQIA+ related programming on TLC only shown in South Africa, and kept away from DStv subscribers in homophobic African nations like Kenya, Nigeria and others with replacement programming.

Warner Bros. Discovery says it's "celebrating the channel's diverse talent with a rainbow of TLC favourites, new shows and specials, highlighting lesbian, gay and transgender voices". While the content will be accessible to DStv subscribers in South Africa, it won't be seen by viewers watching TLC in other African countries.

When asked if Warner Bros. Discovery has concerns that there might be complaints about the gay-related content being shown on TLC in countries like Kenya and Nigeria, Warner Bros. Discovery told TVwithThinus in response to a media query that it is "aware of the sensitivities in these regions and therefore TLC Pride isn't scheduled to air in these countries".

In October 2015 Discovery Networks International was forced to pull the reality series I Am Jazz about a transgendered teen's struggle and life journey from TLC across Africa just before it was to begin broadcast following government censorship in Nigeria that impacted its screening across the entire continent.

In May 2016 NBCUniversal International Networks was forced to pull the second season of I Am Cait, a reality show about the transgender Caitlyn Jenner – formerly known as Bruce Jenner - from E! in Africa after complaints and a DStv TV-ban in Nigeria.

In July 2016, Viacom International Media Networks Africa, now Paramount, said it would be censoring an episode of The Loud House on Nickelodeon and won't be broadcasting it on its linear channel on DStv in Africa since it featured animated gay dads.

In June 2017 Kenya's Film Classification Board (KFCB) banned 7 kids cartoon for bogus reasons like saying one character "has a dick for a head", and that in another two characters of the same gender went on an (unseen) "implied romantic vacation", ordering MultiChoice Africa to remove Loud House, The Legend of Korra, Hey Arnold, Clarence, Steven Universe, Adventure Time and Star vs the Forces of Evil from DStv because of "homosexual themes".

In November 2017 Kenya banned the Disney Channel show Andi Mack because it featured a gay teenager, keeping it off television for the entire Africa, including South Africa.

M-Net (DStv 101) which has different regionalised channel feeds for South, East and West Africa has also kept certain internationally acquired content away over the last decade from DStv subscribers and more conservative audiences in East and West Africa, like American Gods and the transsexual model agency reality series Strut shown to viewers in South Africa without complaints.

About its Pride June programming stunt, Warner Bros. Discovery says "from 13 till 26 June, viewers can enjoy brand new shows like Kenny and Armando: Love is Love, showing the love story of 90 Day Fiancé couple Kenny and Armando so far; and My Pregnant Husband, which shows how couples experience the joy – and challenges - of a transgender pregnancy".

"Viewers can also tune in for a selection from one of TLC's most well-loved shows, Say Yes To The Dress; a show that celebrates love in all forms, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation".

This is TLC's Pride programming line-up:

Say Yes To The Dress, 13 - 24 June weekdays, 12:00
Kleinfeld Bridal, a Manhattan-based salon that is arguably the world’s finest, is celebrating love in all forms, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Over 250 consultants do their best to cater to the brides’ wishes in preparation for one of the most memorable days of their lives.

I Am Jazz, 13 - 24 June, weekdays, 22:55
Although assigned male at birth, Jazz is a transgender female and has been living as a girl since kindergarten. Jazz's parents, Jeanette and Greg, and siblings Ari, Griffen and Sander have stood side-by-side with Jazz as she's battled discrimination, hate speech, online bullying and other misconceptions associated with what it means to be transgender.

Nate & Jeremiah: By Design, Wednesday 15 & 22 19 June, 9:25
Balancing their roles as design experts and dads, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent show how to turn a money pit into a masterpiece. The designer husbands help clients learn from their mistakes by rescuing them from renovation nightmares.

Dragnificent! | 17 - 24 June, weekdays, 19:00
Alexis Michelle, Bebe Zahara Benet, Jujubee and Thorgy Thor, four of America's favourite drag queens, come to the rescue of those in need of a major change for an upcoming life milestone. The queens help people reimagine themselves inside and out and reveal their transformations in time for a special day.

90 Day Journey: Stephanie & Erika, Sunday 19 June, 18:00
After four months of dating online, YouTuber Stephanie travels to Australia to finally meet photographer Erika. They hope to deepen their connection in person, but things are complicated by the fact that neither woman has come out to her family.

My Pregnant Husband, Sunday 19 June, 19:00
Ari and Caitlin and Myles and Precious experience the joy of a transgender pregnancy when Ari and Myles, the men in their relationships, become pregnant. The couples must conquer unique obstacles when the person carrying and birthing their child is a man.

Kenny and Armando: Love is Love, Sunday 26 June, 18:00
Kenny and Armando, well-known from the hit-series 90 Day Fiancé, met on an online support group for fathers. Kenny has decided to leave his family behind and move south of the border to be with him. Being a gay couple in Mexico, however, could pose a much bigger challenge than Kenny could imagine. Kenny and Armando: Love is Love shows their love story so far.

Ayo Ajala upped as MultiChoice Nigeria chief operating officer.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Nigeria has promoted Ayo Ajala as MultiChoice Nigeria's chief operating officer (COO) from April 2022.

Ayo Ajala who joined MultiChoice Africa in 2004, previously worked at the African pay-TV operator's Africa division in various positions and was group executive head for human resources at MultiChoice Africa since 2019.

MultiChoice Nigeria, in a statement it issued a month and a half after his appointment since April, says Ajo Ajala as MultiChoice Nigeria COO will now "oversee customer functions and the business operations of the Nigeria business and ensure that processes and systems are sufficiently robust to support the company's growth".

"A self-proclaimed people champion, Ajala's knack for understanding people and focusing their strengths where is most suitable, is a critical aspect of his success story, even as he continued to gain cogent and extensive experience in human resource management in particular and the multi-dimensional requirements of business operations on a wider spectrum."

Ayo Ajala has a bachelor's degree in engineering from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, an MBA from the University of Sunderland and a certificate in human resources development from the Edinburgh Business School.

He also completed the Vision Achievement programme with the Pacific Institute and the Harvard Business Programme with the Naspers Group and recently completed the senior leadership programme at the Duke Business School (Fuqua School of Business).