Thursday, January 26, 2023

Tapfuma Makina is the new host of Ultimate Braai Master on e.tv for season 8.


by Thinus Ferreira

The new host of Ultimate Braai Master for the reality braai competition's 8th season is Tapfuma Makina who is replacing show creator Justin Bonello.

Tapfuma Makina joins the Trace Studios produced series in which several teams of two will once again compete against each other - this season across venues in the Western Cape - to see who South Africa's latest braai champions are, in 13 episodes starting on e.tv on Saturday 5 February at 17:00.

Tapfuma Makina takes over as presenter from Justin Bonello for the 8th season, with the series retaining judges Peter Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng from previous seasons.

Tapfuma Makina who has presented various TV series and is also known as a TV sports news anchor on e.tv and a radio host, has a B.Sc degree in biochemistry and microbiology, and says he's excited to be a part of Ultimate Braai Master as the new host.

On taking over from Justin Bonello as Ultimate Braai Master host, Tapfuma Makina says "it's an honour to take up the baton. Justin created one of South Africa's most iconic and longest-running reality TV shows".

"That we're now in season eight of the show proves how phenomenal a concept it is, and how loved he was as a host. It's a privilege to be a part of the house that Bonello built".

"I love food but I am no chef, and have nothing but respect for those with that innate talent - I leave that to the experts Benny and Pete, now in their 5th season together on Ultimate Braai Master. Who better to judge?"

"I'm simply taskmaster, my job is to help the braai master hopefuls, and our audience navigate the mechanics of the show, and steer them through the twists and turns that comprise the journey to finding the next Ultimate Braai Master."

After travelling across South Africa in previous season for challenges, the series switched to using just the Eastern Cape province in the 7th season and now just the Western Cape for the latest upcoming season, marking a slight format change for the show which will likely start to utilise specific provinces for future seasons. 

With Ultimate Braai Master that was picked up by Netflix last season besides its airing on e.tv, Ultimate Braai Master with its new Western Cape season plans to "showcase the wealth of produce celebrated in the region, from free-range dairy and grain-fed cattle, to fresh grown organic vegetables from farm to braai to table".

e.tv cancels Imbewu after 5 seasons.


by Thinus Ferreira

The Grapevine Productions show Imbewu on e.tv has been cancelled after 5 years with the KwaZulu-Natal series which will conclude at the end of March and get replaced by a new locally-produced drama series.

E.tv gave no reason for the Imbewu cancellation which launched in April 2018 and has been one of the most-watched shows on the red letter channel the past half a decade, with eMedia saying that it remains "committed to its investment in local programming".

The late prime-time series focused on two Durban families - the Bhengus and Rampersads - and aired over 1 000 episodes.

"We'd like to thank the production for its commitment in delivering five great seasons of compelling stories, despite the highly competitive timeslots it found itself at 21:30 and 21:00," says Helga Palmer, eMedia's head of local programming.

The Imbewu co-executive producers, Leleti Khumalo; Duma Ndlovu and Anant Singh, in a statement say "We are proud to have created a trailblazing show that showcased the multicultural environment of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal".

"Imbewu changed the face of the daily drama offering on South African television with its unique storylines, cliffhangers and high drama, resulting in it becoming one of the most-watched shows. We are grateful to our broadcast partner, e.tv for their support of the show and for the opportunity."

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

MultiChoice adds two DStv SWITCH'D ON pop-up content repeat channels to try combat South Africa's crippling Eskom electricity blackouts.


by Thinus Ferreira

Following eMedia that launched a Power-UP! pop-up channel on Openview on Monday 23 January with repeats to combat Eskom's electricity blackouts in South Africa, MultiChoice is also launching two pop-up channels, both called DStv SWITCH'D ON, on DStv, starting on Tuesday 24 January.

With the two DStv SWITCH'D ON channels, MultiChoice and M-Net will repeat various of its own, locally-produced shows from the Mzansi Magic, Mzansi Wethu and kykNET & Kie channels for DStv subscribers who can't watch it during prime time due to Eskom's crippling electricity blackouts.

Content on the two DStv SWITCH'D ON channels will repeat up to 5 times.

DStv SWITCH'D ON on DStv's channels 109 and 110 will rebroadcast shows like The River, DiepCity, Gqerberha the Empire, Gomora and Arendsvlei and will be open to DStv subscribers in South Africa and Lesotho customers.

DStv SWITCH'D ON on channel 109 will run from 06:00 in the morning until midnight for DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers.

DStv SWITCH'D ON on channel 110 will run from 07:30 in the morning until midnight for DStv Access and DStv Family subscribers.


eMedia's Openview adds Power-UP! as content repeat channel to try combat South Africa's crippling Eskom electricity blackouts.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia's Openview free-to-air satellite TV service has added a Power-UP! pop-up channel to Openview's channel line-up with Power-UP! which is designed as a second windowing opportunity to repeat content for South African viewers who miss shows due to the country's crippling electricity blackouts because of Eskom.

Power-UP! started on Openview on Monday on channel 114. It's now clear for how long Power-UP! will remain available as a temporary channel with eMedia which didn't specify an end date. Power-UP! will run for 18 hours daily with a repeat of local e.tv content like prime time drama series and soaps.

Power-UP! runs from 06:00 until midnight for 7 days a week with e.tv shows like Durban Gen, House of Zwide, Scandal! and Imbewu which repeat from Mondays to Fridays with 2-hour loops. The Black Door will repeat on weekends from 23:00.

Power-UP! will also carry omnibus repeats of the Afrikaans telenovela series #DisComplicated, Daai Crazy Somer and Die Vertroueling on weekends on Saturdays and Sundays.


Monday, January 23, 2023

The voice of ‘Tonight on eee’ Bongani Njoli falls silent at 53.


by Thinus Ferreira

The voice-over artist and DJ Bongani Njoli, the often-ridiculed but unique and beloved voice of e.tv's programming promos died on Sunday night. Born Lala Ngoxolo Bongani Njoli on 7 September 1969, he was 53.

The former Good Hope FM and Magic 828 presenter became iconic for his gravelly-voiced e.tv promos, often starting with a raspy "Tooonight on eeeee", as well as " Thuuursday night is action night" wrestling and Friday Action Night movies - all with an imitation American accent he added to everything from Bruce Wills movies to upcoming Walker Texas Ranger episodes.

His peculiar voice-over inflection led to comedian Trevor Noah starting to imitate Bongani Njoli's announcements in some of his comedy shows, with audiences roaring with laughter about someone they'd never seen but all instantly knew the voice of. 

"South Africa is a peculiar country," Bongani Njoli told BBC Radio's Outlook show in a 2017 interview. "A whole lot of us are English speaking but you also get those differentiations, you know, where I as a black person have to do a black English voice as just opposed to some other person doing a voice. We normally come with black English that sounds exactly like me".

The qualified teacher with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Diploma in Higher Education joined UCT Radio in 1990 during his student years and was the first black DJ on Good Hope FM in Cape Town where he joined in 1994 where he did an audition after he worked at Nampak.

After initially being rejected after auditioning for e.tv, he got a callback and then proceeded to do e.tv's TV promo voice-overs for 17 years for 2000.

Bongani was part of the team that launched Discom Vibes as a retail radio station for Clicks in 2004, where he was a presenter and music compiler until 2007 when he joined Cape Town's Heart 104.9FM doing two shows until 2009.

He joined Cape Town's Magic 828 in 2016. As a music producer, having worked on two SAMA-nominated albums in 2000 he started a music production company, Ebomvu Entertainment in 1999 with producer, Gabi le Roux.

The cause of his death is not immediately known.

"How many times can you watch Anaconda on a Friday night? Well, it depends on how Bongani Njoli can say 'This coming Friiiiday night on eeeee, Anaconda' and that's what got you to watch," Lester Kiewit of CapeTalk said on Monday morning.

About his voice, Bongani told the BBC that his voice helped to get him out of trouble and certain situations. "Once I got into trouble with the cops and one of the cops recognised my voice. 'Aren't you that guy who does 'Only on eee'? and said "I know you man, listen, go home and stop doing stupid stuff".

eMedia in response to a media query from TVwithThinus, on Monday afternoon said that the company will be making a contribution to Bongani Njoli’s funeral and that his death came as a shock to the e.tv family.

"Everyone at the e.tv family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Bongani Njoli."

"As the most recognisable voice of our Friday Action Night movie promos and weekend blockbusters, “Bongs” was a true legend and part of the e family for 17 years."

"His untimely passing comes as a shock, he was in studio with us in December 2022 for a new movie campaign. But unfortunately, as he was too weak to record, we put the campaign on hold."

"A part of our history is gone with his passing, but we will forever remember him as 'the voice' – our voice. Those of us who worked closely with him will sorely miss Bongani's easy-going, gentle manner and utter professionalism. We have reached out to the family, and will be making a contribution for the funeral."

Friday, January 20, 2023

The SABC is about to make a very big change about TV repeats, will start to remove repeats across sister channels as it dismantle transversal strategy.


by Thinus Ferreira  

The SABC is set to soon make very big changes around repeats on the schedules of its three terrestrial TV channels and will soon get rid of cross-channel rebroadcasts to try and give a more distinct content character to SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 in an attempt to stem the channels' TV ratings slide.

Over the past decade, SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 diluted much of their unique channel identities as one channel's shows bled into the other two through multiple repeats - something the SABC called its "transversal strategy".

The aim was twofold: As the public broadcaster was forced to spend less and less on original local content, a myriad of repeats of one SABC channel's shows on another served to pad schedules and fill gaps, reducing the need to commission and schedule fresh content in those timeslots and keeping costs down.

Secondly, the SABC argued that the "windowing" of content from one channel on another was a promotion exercise, bringing in more viewers for rating tallies - especially in morning timeslots, and making potential new viewers aware that a show exists that they can watch in prime time as new episodes on another channel.

Now the SABC is finally starting to dismantle its transversal strategy after many years. 

The public broadcaster plans to return to programming and scheduling SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 as uniquely branded TV channel destinations and thereby reducing content bleed and channel brand identity dilution.

"We're looking at reducing our repeat ratio in prime time, and then realigning the network repeat schedule," Merlin Naicker, head of SABC video entertainment, told parliament.

"We'll start to remove repeats across sister channels. So you won't see Uzalo on SABC1 as an example, repeat on SABC2 and SABC3 going forward."

"We'll contain them from an audience perspective. It will be on the primary channel, and repeat on the primary channel as well. This also takes into cognisance that we have now launched our SABC+ streaming service, so repeat content would be better served there, than utilising the scarce spectrum we have in terms of linear broadcasting."

"The challenge we have on a linear TV channel service, what you broadcast goes to the entire population. With SABC+ which is an on-demand platform, it becomes much easier to repeat content where it's done on an individual basis."

"Each user can decide whether they want to watch a show or not. That's how SABC+ helps us with repeats."

"If you've missed it on the linear service, you can get it on SABC+ as a repeat and that's a viewer consumption pattern that we're starting to entrench with audiences that will allow us to exploit fresh content without impacting repeats," Merlin Naicker said.


The Real Housewives of Abuja to debut on 17 February on Showmax will bring a second set of Nigerian woman to NBCUniversal reality franchise.


by Thinus Ferreira

With the format proliferating like TV hamsters, MultiChoice's next African edition of The Real Housewives franchise will be The Real Housewives of Abuja which will be released on Showmax on 17 February across Africa, showcasing the lives of six women living in Nigeria's capital and eighth largest city.

The Real Housewives of Abuja, set in another Nigeria city similar to The Real Housewives of Lagos, will release a new episode on Showmax every Friday and will include the Abuja women Arafa, Comfort Booth, OJ Posharella, Princess Jecoco, Samantha Homossany and Tutupie, as "they navigate their opulent lives, relationships, family and businesses within the powerful city of Abuja and beyond".

The reality series's launch will follow after the debut of The Real Housewives of Gqeberha which will have its TV debut on M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) on 3 February following women in the Eastern Cape's Nelson Mandela Bay metropole.

The Real Housewives of Abuja and The Real Housewives of Gqeberha are the latest two African franchise editions, joining existing series like The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, The Real Housewives of Pretoria, The Real Housewives of Lagos, The Real Housewives of Cape Town, as well as The Real Housewives of Durban which will have its third season starting on 1 February on Showmax.

The Real Housewives of Abuja is produced by Delmedia Productions.

Busola Tejumola, MultiChoice head of content and West Africa channels, says "Telling our local story is at the core of what we do, and we are glad to continue this partnership with NBCUniversal Formats, to bring the franchise to a second city in Nigeria".

"The new series will follow the luxurious lives of six influential and successful women in Abuja."

Arafa, creative director and founder of Selaralifestyle is a married mom of twins and an art entrepreneur. 

Comfort Booth is a partner at Asia Ahmed & Co and is a lawyer, social commentator, travel blogger and talk show host.

Ojoma Sule, known as "OJ Posharella", is an entrepreneur and CEO of the Posharella Group of Companies.

The hotelier Princess Jecoco is a married mom or two as the managing director of the Sefcon hotel group and is a lawyer, brand ambassador, influencer and content creator.

Samantha Homossany is the creative director of Zohi Taglit and is a wellness entrepreneur. She is married to an Israeli millionaire and the mother of four kids. 

Tutupie is the creative director of Urban Day Party and is an event curator who is a certified chef.

Netflix adds 7 million subscribers, will enforce password crackdown more broadly in 2023 as Reed Hastings steps down as co-CEO.


by Thinus Ferreira

In its 2022 4th quarter earning report presentation on Thursday night Netflix announced that it had added 7 million subscribers, that it will enforce its newly-implemented password crackdown drive more broadly in 2023 and that Reed Hastings is stepping down as the video streamer's co-CEO.

Netflix added 7.66 million new subscribers during the last quarter of last year, more than the 4.5 million new subscribers it projected. It means that Netflix ended 2022 with 230.75 million subscribers in total worldwide, also higher than its projected 227.59 million.

Netflix announced that Reed Hastings, who co-founded Netflix and who will remain executive chairperson, is stepping down as co-CEO, while Ted Sarandos will remain as co-CEO.

Greg Peters is promoted to co-CEO, with Bela Bajaria promoted to chief content officer and Scott Stuber getting promoted to Netflix Film chairperson.

Netflix grew by 3.2 million subscribers in its Africa, Europe and Middle East region, 910 000 subscribers in the United States and Canada, added 1.76 million Latin American subscribers and another 1.8 million subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region.

In its shareholder letter, Netflix writes that "2022 was a tough year, with a bumpy start but a brighter finish".

'We believe we have a clear path to reaccelerate our revenue growth: continuing to improve all aspects of Netflix, launching paid sharing and building our ads offering. As always, our north stars remain pleasing our members and building even greater profitability over time."

Password crackdown for Africa
Netflix which started to introduce a password crackdown on sharing accounts in some regions in late-2022, plans to roll this out more broadly this year, including across Africa and South Africa.

"Later in Q1, we expect to start rolling out paid sharing more broadly," Netflix says in its latest shareholder letter.

"Today’s widespread account sharing (100M+ households) undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business. While our terms of use limit use of Netflix to a household, we recognise this is a change for members who share their account more broadly."

"So we've worked hard to build additional new features that improve the Netflix experience, including the ability for members to review which devices are using their account and to transfer a profile to a new account."

"As we roll out paid sharing, members in many countries will also have the option to pay extra if they want to share Netflix with people they don't live with. As is the case today, all members will be able to watch while travelling, whether on a TV or mobile device."

Revived Gossip Girl cancelled, Outlander ending with prequel series spinoff.


by Thinus Ferreira

The revived Gossip Girl series has been cancelled after two seasons, while Outlander will be ending after eight seasons although the story will continue in a spinoff series.

Josh Safran, showrunner of the revived Gossip Girl series, has revealed that the show has been cancelled after two seasons. 

The 2021 Gossip Girl, from Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO Max seen on MultiChoice's streamer Showmax and the Me (DStv 115) channel, was a reboot of the 2007 series which chronicled the "scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite" teenagers.

"So here's the goss: it is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce Gossip Girl will not be continuing on HBO Max," he wrote on Instagram.

"The EPs and I will forever be grateful to the network and studio for their faith and support; the writers for their devious brains and dexterous talent; the superstar cast for being the greatest of collaborators and friends; and the crew for their hard work, dedication and love for the project."

"This was honestly the greatest set I ever worked on, top to bottom. We are currently looking for another home, but in this climate, that might prove an uphill bottle, and so if this is the end, at least we went out on the highest of highs. Thank you for watching, and I hope you’ll tune into the finale next Thursday to see how it all comes together. xoxo."

"A big thank you to all the GG fans around the world. You’re the reason we came back in the first place, and who knows, maybe the reason we will meet again. Much love."

HBO Max in a statement says "We are very grateful to showrunner/executive producer Joshua Safran, and executive producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz for bringing us back to the Upper East Side and all the scandals at Constance Billard".

"Although we are not moving forward with a third season of Gossip Girl we thank them for the enticing love triangles, calculated backstabbing and impeccable fashion this series brought to a new audience."


Outlander ending - with a spinoff
Meanwhile, Outlander, seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will be ending although the story will continue with a new spinoff, prequel series.

The 16-episode 7th season of Outlander will be broadcast this year, with the 8th season likely sometime in 2024 which will have 10 episodes.

"For nearly a decade Outlander has won the hearts of audiences worldwide and we're pleased to bring Claire and Jamie's epic love story to a proper conclusion," says Kathryn Busby, president of original programming at Starz, in a press statement announcing Outlander's ending.

"But before we close this chapter, there is plenty of their passionate story to tell over the course of 26 new episodes and even more to explore of this dynamic world and its origin story. We're thrilled to continue to partner with Matthew, Maril and Ronald and can't wait to see where their alluring storytelling takes us next."

Outlander will be followed by a prequel series, Outlander: Blood of My Blood, which will chronicle the love story and romance of Jamie Fraser's parents, Brian Fraser and Ellen MacKenzie.

"Outlander: Blood of My Blood is, at heart, a love story. It will explore what lengths a person will go to find love in a time when love is considered a luxury, and when marriages are made strategically, often for political or financial gain," says Matthew B. Roberts, Outlander showrunner who will continue as showrunner on the prequel series.

"The title is a nod to Jamie Fraser's marriage vow to Claire and there will be several names and faces that Outlander fans will know and recognise."

"Jamie and Claire's TV story may be coming to an end with season eight, but Diana is continuing on with their literary journey in her wonderful book series and is working diligently on book ten. With Jamie and Claire, and now Brian and Ellen, there is still so much more to come in the Outlander universe, and we cannot wait to continue sharing these stories with our dedicated fans."