Friday, February 28, 2020

MultiChoice and M-Net add a new library content channel kykNET Lekker to bring Afrikaans TV content for DStv Access subscribers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net is launching another new kykNET channel, kykNET Lekker, on 9 March 2020 which will be an Afrikaans TV channel compiled with shows from the existing kykNET library for DStv Access subscribers.

kykNET Lekker that will run on channel 148 on DStv will be compiled out of the best of kykNET programmes, including soaps, lifestyle shows, children’s entertainment and music shows that DStv subscribers on the DStv Access package haven't had the opportunity to see. 

Interestingly, kykNET Lekker won't be upscaled and won't be available on any other higher-tiered kykNET packages like DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact or DStv Family who will continue to receive the existing selection of allocated kykNET channels for those packages.

kykNET Lekker will launch with the first season of Jou Show met Emo, the fitness guru Lindi Kriel's Kry daai lyf and will include Afrikaans soaps like Binnelanders and Suidooster.

Suidooster will restart from season 1 for people who have never had the chance to watch and follow it, while the hospital set series Binnelanders will start from season 4.

 Children's programming will include Teddies, Bundu Buddies, and Groentjie. Music shows like Joltyd, Kom ons Karaoke, #Duidelik, and Sakkie Langarm are also on the schedule.

"kykNET Lekker joins other kykNET channels to showcase Afrikaans content on an affordable and accessible package for DStv subscribers. It will become the home of a variety of the best Afrikaans programs from the kykNET vault and will only be available on the DStv Access package," says Karen Meiring, director of kykNET channels.

Other kykNET fare for 2020
On kykNET kykNET (DStv 144) singer and talk show host Karen Zoid will return for her 5th season as president of Die Republiek van Zoid Afrika, and Emo Adams will present the second season of the talent competition Maak my Famous on kykNET and kykNET&kie (DStv 145) to showcase some of our country’s talented upcoming artists.

Casper de Vries returns to kykNETwith his new sketch show, Cas oppie Kassie while viewers can also look forward to a brand new drama from Paul C. Venter later in the year. Venter was the writer of previous popular kykNET dramas such as Vlug na Egipte and Knapsek√™rels. 

On kykNET&Kie a new music talk show entiteld Koortjies is starting soon with the popular gospel musician Jonathan Rubain as presenter.

The crime series Op Seer se Spoor will return for a second season on kykNET&kie with presenter Ernusta Maralack revisiting the violent crimes that shook communities across the country.

SuperSport adds new Saturday morning show, The Weekender, with Neil Andrews.

by Thinus Ferreira

SuperSport is adding a brand-new Saturday morning sports talk show The Weekender, presenter by the veteran sports anchor Neil Andrews.

With The Weekender SuperSport and Neil Andrews will be "borrowing unashamedly" from the erstwhile and hugely popular Super Saturday show that SuperSport ended in 2008 after a decade on the air.

The hourlong The Weekender that will air on Saturday mornings at 08:00 across various of the SuperSport channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service will include viewer comments with Neil Andrews who will dip into the sporting zeitgeist and talk about what's been and what is to come in the sports world.

With the Soweto derby top of mind, among the first show's guests on this coming Saturday will be football experts Phumlani Msibi and Stanton Fredericks, the midfielder who played for both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

El Clasico, being played on Sunday, will also be a topic for discussion.

Gcobani Bobo and Mpumelelo Mbangwa will talk about rugby and cricket respectively, with Minnie Dlamini who will also be behind The Weekender anchor desk.

A "Panel Challenge" on Saturday will involve the presenters facing the speed of a professional tennis player's serve.

"SuperSport broadcasts such stellar live sport every weekend and The Weekender will remind our subscribers what not to miss, when and why," says Neil Andrews. "It's a fresh new look that intends to inform and entertain viewers while celebrating our incredible offering of unmissable live sport."

REVIEW. The flawed Queen Sono's first season on Netflix is an unremarkable, uneven and missable spy trope-filled tale.

by Thinus Ferreira

Regretfully, the flawed Queen Sono on Netflix is an uneven, unremarkable spy-trope filled drama series that offers the viewer little new, while etching Pearl Thusi with some stilted acting in front of pan-African wallpaper scenery as she channels a bruised-yet-determined James Bond Afro'ed femme fatale stock character.

Long story short: You've seen all of this already years before streaming services like Netflix came along.

Netflix's first local African commissioned series, created by director Kagiso Lediga and Tamsin Andersson's production company Diprente comes up short in several areas with wooden acting, pacing issues and other problems that detract from Queen Sono's 6-episode first season (no word on whether there will be more).

Visually Queen Sono has some moments of wonderful travelogue-like cinematography but overall the first season - with showrunner Kagiso and Tebogo Malope who took turns to direct episodes - is missable fare and lacking a binge-watching quality.

On its own Queen Sono sadly isn't worthy of a Netflix subscription or worth the data, time and gawk-interest as the "first African Netflix Original" with an ever-present unevenness across the season and a lot of padding and badly done exposition all through the first three episodes.

Compared with M-Net's recent local spy thriller series Trackers that looks and feels better, Queen Sono feels very much like more of the same.

The story takes too long to get going for a property that was created to live on a streaming service where it should inspire a "I can't wait to watch more" feeling. The scriptwriting and fragmented plot are served lukewarm given the rich potential available in the story matter and themes that Queen Sono tries to weave into the episodes.

Change some of the names, places and faces (and diamonds for weapons) and Queen Sono looks like a cluttered Trackers Repeat with a plopped-in Bambi-like, cynical protagonist who this time is a field agent (channelled by Pearl) at the fictional Special Operations Group (SOG) of the South African government. Queen is searching for the killer of her mother Safiya.

On an interesting meta-level Queen is investigating a foreign company's incursion into Africa and trying to figure out what it all means and how the outside interests in Africa are connected. It's similar to Netflix itself and its global streaming aspirations and why Netflix spent money to create Queen Sono in the first place.

Amidst a seesaw of sappy melodrama and action scenes, Queen Sono peppers the often-odd and awkward dialogue with obviously forced and weird "F"-words and things that people won't say in front of grandma - as if to somehow try and emphasise that the series isn't your regular SABC1 Sunday night drama.

The sound design and jarring soundtrack transitions is another production pitfall and also needed some more refinement in studio in post. It's simply all over the place. Among the often stilted portrayals in Queen Sono, especially Sechaba Morojele as Dr Sid and other actors with distracting and changing accents, there are some gems. Bright sparks include the acting chops of James Ngcobo.

Queen Sono is additive but not groundbreaking and sadly not stand-out in any way besides that it will have a footnote in the TV history books as "the first African Netflix Original".

The dreary, tedious and drawn-out quality of Queen Sono is as disappointing as what The Girl from St. Agnes was as MultiChoice's first Showmax Original and unfortunately doesn't live up to the hype that Netflix probably hoped there would be around it's first original South African series.

Maybe give it a try if you already have Netflix - although you'll probably struggle to sit through and watch the entire 6 episodes - but don't waste money buying a Netflix subscription just because of it. It's not actually worth it.

As Netflix does more African commissioned series it will probably, hopefully, do better in future.

New mega-renewal deal for Dick Wolf's trio of Chicago series as well as Law & Order: SVU with all 4 series renewed for 3 seasons each.

by Thinus Ferreira

Universal Television has signed a new mega-deal with the American producer Dick Wolf that sees all three of the Chicago procedural series each getting renewed for a further three seasons, while the longrunning Law & Order: SVU also gets renewed for a further 3 seasons.

The massive renewal will see Chicago Fire continue at least until season 11, Chicago P.D. continue until season 10 and Chicago Med continue at least until season 8 with all three series broadcast on M-Net (DStv 101) in South Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa on DStv.

Meanwhile Law & Order: SVU with Mariska Hargitay, seen on Universal TV (DStv 117) and SABC3, is already America's longest-running drama series and will now continue until at least season 24 on the NBC network in America.

"Dick Wolf has proven time and time again that he makes shows audiences love," says Paul Telegdy, NBC Entertainment chairperson in a statement announcing the 3-year renewals for all four series.

"We are delighted, excited and proud that as part of this epic deal with Wolf Entertainment, our loyal audience will know that their favourite shows have a certain future for the next three years."

Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversal Content Studios chairperson, says "I've thoroughly enjoyed working with Dick over the decades and it goes without saying he remains one of the most influential producers in history. He is a visionary unlike any other whose impact has changed the entire television landscape. We're beyond thrilled to have Dick and his team remain in the NBCUniversal family for many years to come".

Pearlena Igbokwe, Universal Television president, says "The significance of having Dick Wolf remain at Universal Television can't be overstated. Dick has proven himself masterful at building successful, iconic brands and telling gripping, intelligent and thought-provoking stories. It’s an honour and pleasure to be a part of the Wolf Pack for the next five years".

Dick Wolf says "I'm gratified and excited that Universal will remain our home" and that "We are now supercharged to expand our business on new platforms, both domestically and internationally, while continuing to produce our current and future series for broadcasting and streaming networks."

SABC1 adds new 13-episode Sunday night Agent football drama series with Kay Sibiya and Sisanda Henna.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC1 is adding a new local drama series, Agent, to Sunday nights from 8 March revolving around an egotistical football star and his unpredictable and volatile agent, played by Sisanda Henna and Kay Sibiya.

The 13-episode hourlong series that starts on Sunday 8 March at 21:30 on SABC was produced as a co-production between Cinebar Studios and Canal+ International and was created and written by Athos Kyriakides who also does duty director duty alongside Sean Els and Jon Rabaud.

Agent, executive produced by Danie Halgryn and Andrea Habermeyer, explores some of the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind-the-scenes in the modern-day football industrial complex.

Within this world filled with sociopathic rival agents, megalomaniac club owners, scheming professional football players and their gold-digging football wags, compromised club managers, and duplicitous witch-doctors, everyone shamelessly hustle and negotiate inside the corridors of power of the beautiful game.

Sisanda Henna portrays Lesego "Ace" Moleko, one of the biggest strikers in South Africa with an ego that knows no bounds. Lurching from one scandal to the next, he wears the number 9 shirt while his personalised number plate reads "God".

Slindile "Blaze" Magoba (Kay Sibiya) is a former professional football player whose career ended prematurely due to an injury but reinvented himself as a fierce and mercurial soccer agent who cares about his clients. He's however wrestling with a "fatal secret" that he buried 6 years ago.

Ace is Blaze's number one client but also his biggest headache.

The rest of the Agent cast includes Pamela Nomvete (Godi Zulu), Zweli Dube (Phumlani Mbebe), Tarryn Wyngaard (Nathalie Isaacs), Makgotso M (Delilah Skosana), Paballo Moganedi (Kim Moyo) and Owen Sejake in the role of Walter Mbebe.

Other cast members include Manie Malone (Nina Sankara), Thabo Malema (Vuyo Moyo), Robert Mpisi (Monte Skosana), Virgile Bramly (Jean-Pierre Yasbeck), Yannick Konan (Herve Toure), Michaella Russell (Mila Dior), Vinaya Sungkur (Jade Singh) Sarah Kozlowski (Zoe Zante) and Gabriella Cirillo (Jackie East).

Anthony Oseyemi plays the character of Christopher Kilembe, a powerful sports lawyer who is ruthless and relentless.

Set in Johannesburg and written by Athos Kyriakides, Nonzi Bogatsu, Elan Gamaker and Salah Sabiti, Agent includes a vintage 70's funk soundtrack mixed with psychedelic alternative ballads and contemporary African and South African hip hop.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Formula 1's official F1 TV Pro live streaming rolled out to South Africa and more African countries as second season of its Netflix reality series, Drive to Survive, gets ready to race from 28 February 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

Fans of Formula 1 racing in South Africa can finally watch live races with the F1 TV Pro official F1 subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service that now accepts South African subscribers with the second season of its reality show, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, that will make its debut on Friday on Netflix.

F1 TV Pro live streams all F1 races, as well as F2, F3 and the Porsche Supercup series as an on-demand service with a live stream of every track session for every Grand Prix. F1 TV has been available for a while since 2018 in South Africa but didn't offer local viewers the option to watch live racing.

The 2020 pre-season testing kicked off on 19 February with all 6 days of testing that was shown live on F1 TV Pro for the first time. F1 TV Pro has a daily Tech Talk show analysing the latest innovations the various teams are trialling for 2020 and also gives full coverage of various press conferences.

Besides South Africa, FI TV Pro has been made newly made available in several other African countries including Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

F1 TV Pro cost $4.99 (R75.51) monthly and $44.99 (R680.81) for an annual subscription and will compete with Netflix South Africa, MultiChoice's Showmax, Amazon Prime Video, Vodacom's Video Play, Apple TV+ and others for consumers' stream-watch rands.

Meanwhile the second season of F1's docu-series on Netflix, Formula 1: Drive to Survive will become available on 28 February globally.

For the second season all 10 teams agreed to be followed by the production company's cameras and include drivers Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for the first time.

Netflix commissions its first-ever Nigerian series; 6-episode supernatural drama series to be directed by Akin Omotoso starring Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has commissioned the video streaming service's first-ever Nigerian series, an as-yet-untitled supernatural drama series directed by Akin Omotoso.

Netflix's first Nigerian series commission with a first season of 6 episodes, follows after series like Queen Sono in South Africa headlined by Pearl Thusi that will debut on the streamer this Friday, the Cape Town, South African set youth drama Blood & Water, and the animation series, Mama K's Team 4.

The so-called "Akin Omotoso project" will be directed by Akin alongside Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi.

It will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye in leading roles alongside newcomers like Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola, Toyin Oshinaike, Goodness Emmanuel, Ireti Doyle, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, Tope Tedela and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

The supernatural series, set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, will tell the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death. First, however, she must learn how to use and harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family from destruction.

The series will be produced by Rififi Pictures.

"I'm excited that in the same week that we're launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production," says Dorothy Ghettuba who leads African Originals at Netflix.

"Our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven't had a chance to tell yet."

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, in the prepared statement announcing Netflix's first commissioned series, says "We're incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories - bringing them to audiences all around the world".

The Oprah Winfrey Show returns ... as a podcast.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Oprah Winfrey Show is coming back ... as a podcast.

Oprah Winfrey is giving the world what they need -  a chance to re-experience, or enjoy for the first time, episodes of her long-running TV talk show which is rolling out as podcast episodes from 3 March.

"Oprah is opening the vault - 25 years of legendary interviews, A-ha moments, ugly cries and unforgettable surprises," a video promo notes.

Ten episodes from the 4 500 episode archive will be made available from 3 March followed by a new episode from the Harpo vaults released weekly.

The initial episodes that will revolve around special guests like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and the financial guru Suze Orman who all got their start on Oprah's couch and will touch on topics ranging from drug addiction and divorce to weight-loss and race relations.

"As we head into a new decade, it’s a great time for fans of The Oprah Winfrey Show to revisit the joy, laughter and inspiration that kept us all tuning in daily for 25 years," says Tina Perry, OWN president, in a statement.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show The Podcast is the perfect opportunity to look back and reflect, take stock of how we've grown and to be reminded that we're all in this together."

The Oprah Winfrey Show The Podcast will be available on Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms, and listeners can subscribe here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

INTERVIEW. Vodacom's Video Play streaming service adds PrideTV content, plans further linear TV channels and a set-top box; says American soap The Bold and the Beautiful 'is blowing the lights out'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Vodacom's Video Play has just added PrideTV content with a carousel of gay content for South African viewers, while the streaming service's boss says viewers have been flocking to Video Play since it decided to add the American soap The Bold and the Beautiful which is "blowing the lights out".

Video Play that competes with other available subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix South Africa, MultiChoice's Showmax, Amazon Prime Video and others, now features a carousel of LGBTQ content ranging from dramas, comedies and documentaries to films as a newly-added subscription sub-section.

Access to PrideTV, where users can watch anything from "comedies, sexy college boy thrillers, horrors, love stories, gripping dramas and doccies about LGBT issues and personalities" cost R5 a day to subscribe to, R15 weekly, or R25 for monthly access.

TVwithThinus spoke with Zubair Munshi, Vodacom video commercial operations executive head, about the addition of PrideTV and the plan behind it, Vodacom's plans to add more linear TV channels and a set-top box (STB) in future, how The Bold and the Beautiful is doing and what the impact of Eskom's loadshedding is on its video streaming offering.

Why was PriveTV added to Vodacom Video Play? Can you give some insight into the decision to add LGBTQ content?
Zubair: So, as you know, Vodacom is a company that prides itself on connecting customers for a better future and part of that is that we try to include everyone and that's what gave impetus to the inclusion of PrideTV.
If you look at Video Play, we have a lot of content, movies, series, content from West Africa, we have some Bollywood content, we have a very nice kids schedule - we've brought in other partners like Da Vinci Kids and Hopster - and PrideTV is very topical. As part of our all-inclusive strategy we opted to include PrideTV.

When MultiChoice ran OUTtv in October 2018 as a linear TV channel on DStv it removed some of the shows but only after the content started to screen because it was too risque for broadcast. Within the genre of PrideTV how did Vodacom decide what type of content you'll make available?
Zubair: All of the content on the platform is classified according to the Film and Publication Board (FPB) guidelines.
Coupled with that there is obviously content classification guidelines that are given to us from Vodafone, our parent company. Based on those two criteria we then look at each piece of content that goes in, each piece of content then gets reviewed, filtered, classified in terms of whatever it is and then placed on the platform.

The other thing is that it's a video-on-demand (VOD) subscription service so it's not a linear channel that runs 24 hours per day as some of the other things. The focus is more around "coming of age" stories, "coming out" stories, drama, information, challenges that people go through, light entertainment, content like that, that resonates with the LGBTQ community. A lot of caution is applied to ensure that there's nothing in there that's racy or inappropriate for our audiences.

How has Video Play grown as a VOD service and what does Vodacom envision it to still become?
Zubair: We launched Video Play in June 2018 and we've seen very positive, strong growth on the platform.
As we've reported in our Q3 results in December 2019 we had just over 1.9 million active customers on the platform with an enormous amount of subscription purchases.
Notably the difference between us and most other platforms is we allow customers to purchase a transactional viewity so it's like the video rental business, and we also offer subscriptions that start from 1-day subscriptions from as little as R5.

From a future-looking perspective our intent is to continue to optimise both the platform features - so bringing in different user-experience channels, for example, SmartTV's, set-top boxes and so forth, so that people can enjoy Video Play in more places than their phones, laptops and tablets.
We already, for instance, support ChromeCast, we're now busy working on an AndroidTV version and we're talking to some of the big TV manufacturers to start building SmartTV apps. As you know there are quite a few of these guys so it's not a quick thing but that's the next big thing for us.

There's also going to be a very big focus for us on linear television because it's the one thing that we've been very cautious about. We currently have two linear TV channels.
The one is from KwaZulu/Natal, 1KZN TV, which produces a lot of content out of KZN in the isiZulu which is one of the most spoken languages in our country, so it made sense to us that if there are 20 million Zulu-speaking people in our country that we go and secure content that is in Zulu.

The second linear TV channel we brought on was GAUtv and we're starting to see audiences and we're continuously talking to more local channels. We're also looking at some international TV channels. We want to give a different channel experience for customers. It's going to be a slightly different model in terms of how we take it to market which we will unveil closer to the time.

What has Vodacom learnt from the mistakes and failures of other VOD services in South Africa of which we've already seen several starting with VIDI and Cell C black being the latest?
Zubair: Look, I'll be very honest right. We don't really look at what the other guys have done right or wrong.
Each person that launches a platform has a specific version of how they think it will succeed and we've confined a lot of our focus on doing what we believe make sense for our customers.
If it's okay I'll rather focus on talking about what I think we are focusing on that we believe is working for us.

In my mind, I think we're working exceptionally hard to try and bring down, one, the cost of content. That means giving customers the ability to purchase for when they need it, modelled around how we've been very successful in giving customers access to what we call "micro-consumption" of airtime and data.

So when you only want to watch something for one day, we have a 1-day subscription for you. Just by pure economics, as soon as you bring say a R50 per month service, and you make it R2 per day as an example, you can obviously make that same service a lot more accessible to a lot more people, even if it's for a 24-hour window.

You then take that, and you map it against a typical lifestyle for not very wealthy people, and you soon start to get a very interesting correlation with based on lifestyle as opposed to affordability.

For instance, think of someone in the middle segment of the market that has a job - typically it's 6 days a week. They genuinely only have one day in a 7-day cycle where they have time for entertainment and leisure.

In that day, the person may or may not have access to large or small amounts of cash but he only wants to be entertained for one day.
So for our viewers we said lets create a platform where they can go to a platform, look at something that he likes and watch that or subscribe to it, but only for that day because it's all he really needs.

The second thing we think we got right very well is ease of consumption. Our platform doesn't do credit cards as an example, and it's a question of availability, risk and so on.
We allow customers to use their Vodacom airtime or their Vodacom post-paid wallet to add the transaction cost or purchase cost to that wallet.

So if you have R10 in your airtime wallet and you want to movie you don't need to give us a credit card. We get that not everyone has debit cards and credit cards and under current economic conditions, even if you do, you maybe don't have much money left. What you do have, is a trusted partner in Vodacom that manages that wallet and if you're not going to make a phone call with your airtime, why don't you use it to rent a movie for R10 or R5, or just a whole bunch of music videos?

We have thousands of them on Video Play and it costs R5 a day. You don't need a credit card, you take it from your airtime or add it to your post-paid bill and you get access.

The combination of those two things, as well as a mobile-first strategy and then started looking at set-top boxes (STBs) and linear TV channels, has certainly helped us.

I read this fascinating BBC article this week about Amazon as an online retailer and how it was and is able to data mine and know precisely what customers click and buy better than walk-in shops. Video-on-demand services also have a treasure trove of very precise viewership and usage statistics and data. 
What's some of the content that's performing really well for Video Play and what has been the response to the addition of the American soap The Bold and the Beautiful?
Zubair: You're absolutely right. The big upside is that we have a lot of granularity on what users are doing on the Video Play platform - what they browse through, what they watch, which guides a lot of things like the recommendations we put forth in both our direct marketing as well as customer-specific propositions.

The second thing is that it also guides us in terms of acquisition - it tells us what we should be buying more of and what we shouldn't be spending money on.

Content like The Bold and the Beautiful is blowing the lights out. People are really, really excited to have it back and available. We're releasing episodes every week and are well ahead of where the SABC was when they dropped it.

At the rate we're going we'll be very close, if not on par with the American timeline soon. The response we've seen from that is really, really phenomenal, the views are going up, people are really enjoying The Bold and the Beautiful experience. We've got some of the back-episodes of Generations which is also performing incredibly well and customers are enjoying it. I think there's a type of nostalgia-effect that people can go back several episodes or several seasons and watch something.

A lot of that is a function of 12-months of customer usage behaviour that showed that there's a huge penchant for drama, for local, for compelling entertainment.
We're spending a lot of energy to try and acquire that kind of content, which as you know is not so simple to do, and some of them come with enormous price tickets.

What has been the impact of Eskom's loadshedding in South Africa on Video Play and Vodacom's VOD service? Do consumers watch more when they don't have electricity and do usage spike since they don't have working TV sets or is usage less when the lights are out?
Zubair: It's a mixed bag. When the loadshedding is quite severe - when it's a Level 2, Level 3 type of environment then we see a mixed version across the country.

In some parts of the country we see consumption go up - but for a very limited period - for about 35 minutes or so. Then in other parts of the country we see no change - it stays exactly the same as it was, with or without loadshedding.
It's a bit of a difficult thing to say to you "yes it does" or "no it doesn't". But does it have an impact on the business? Yes, absolutely. It has an impact on the network as well and affects our business. We run a video streaming service. If the consumer has no internet connectivity you're not streaming anything - whether it's us or anybody else for that matter.

And there's also the issue of do I watch movies on my phone or keep the battery for in case something might happen and need to make a call or something like that. It's really mixed though. We don't see a definitive correlation between the two.

Monday, February 24, 2020

After 18 years Idols allows you to sing from your bedroom – but for 48 hours only.

by Thinus Ferreira

After 18 years Idols is finally allowing contestants to sing from their bedrooms: For 48 hours only, the 16th season of the reality singing competition is accepting online audition videos from midnight tonight.

For the first time ever, the Fremantle format show done by [SIC] Entertainment for M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and executive produced by Gavin Wratten and Tebogo Thekisho (ProVerb), is extending the Idols talent search online beyond the traditional main South African cities.

People, especially those living in remote areas, will be able to send in an online audition from tomorrow from wherever they might be living.

No additional pop-up auditions will be held in smaller cities this year, with the production opting for the first-ever online video auditions following the way other M-Net produced shows like Survivor SA and others have switched to online audition videos only.

From midnight on Tuesday, 25 February South Africans between 16 and 30 years old can enter a 30-second singing video online at until midnight on Thursday, 27 February.

No talking and no introductions should be included - video snippets should strictly be singing only and without using any musical instruments so that the selectors can hear the voice as clearly as possible. "Make sure that you look and sound like an Idol," says the show.

People who want to enter an online signing video can sing anything and successful candidates will get an email back from the producers telling them if their online audition was successful or not. Successful candidates will then get a chance to sing before the Idols judges in person.

Good news is that people who have already audition in person at one of the city venues for Idols can enter the online auditions again if they want to. The Idols city auditions process is wrapping up with the Johannesburg leg that remains and will take place at Carnival City on 7 March.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Disney's FOX channels set quietly flickers back to life on StarSat in Africa after 4 months following commercial disagreement and contract dispute.

by Thinus Ferreira

Disney has quietly returned it yanked FOX channels as well as the two rebranded ESPN channels to the Chinese-run StarSat pay-TV operator after an absence of four and a half months following a commercial disagreement and contract dispute.

The Walt Disney Company removed its entire FOX Networks Group channels set - FOX, FOX Life, FOX Portuguese, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Portuguese, Baby TV, Voyage, National Geographic French, and Nat Geo WILD French – from the Chinese-run StarTimes StarSat with the channels that abruptly went dark without warning in October 2019.

StarSat bizarrely claimed that it decided to remove specifically the FOX channels (although not FOX News) because of alleged "5G cellphone signal testing interference" affecting just these channels.

The Walt Disney Company however said that it decided to remove its channels from StarTimes/StarSat since it became fed-up with ongoing commercial issues at the pay-TV operator and decided to pull all of its FOX-supplied channels after negotiations had failed.

In addition, the FOX Sports and FOX Sports 2 channels that were rebranded to ESPN and ESPN following the Disney takeover of 21st Century Fox, failed to materialise as promised in mid-September on StarSat which caused huge embarrassment to both Disney and StarSat.

The FOX channel set quietly flickered back on StarSat on Thursday with no announcement from Evert van der Veer, the vice-president, media networks of The Walt Disney Company Africa or Christine Service, senior vice president of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

Jared Stokes, senior communications manager at The Walt Disney Company Africa said in response to a media enquiry on Thursday from TVwithThinus that the company won't issue a press release but that "We can confirm that our channels are currently being provided and are available on StarTimes/StarSat" and referred media enquiries to StarSat.

Disney was asked why the FOX channels and ESPN were returned to StarSat but didn't want to answer the specific questions.

In a mobile message sent to just subscribers on Thursday, StarSat said: "Dear Customer, all FOX channels are back on StarSat now".

StarSat on Thursday said it would respond with answers posed in a media enquiry but hasn't by the time of publication of this report on Friday morning. A response when received, will be added here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

eNCA anchor Xoli Mngambi, producer and cameramen held at gunpoint and robbed in Mamelodi East.

by Thinus Ferreira

eNCA (Dstv 403) reports that the eNCA anchor Xoli Mngambi and his producer and cameramen were all robbed on Wednesday afternoon.

The eNCA group was held at gunpoint on Wednesday afternoon with their equipment that was stolen.

Two cameras and a tripod were stolen.

Xoli Mngambi was busy filming an insert in Mamelodi East, east of Pretoria, when they were suddenly confronted by 3 armed men.

The robbers fled in a silver-grey Volkswagen Polo with no registration plates. A case has been opened at the Mamelodi East Police Station.

eNCA in a statement said that anchor Xoli Mngambi, producer Koketso Dlongolo, and camera operators Mbudzeni Bulasigobo and Gift Shabalala were at the Wellness Today Clinic when the robbery occurred.

"eNCA would like to state that although the TV crew's equipment was stolen, the team remains safe and unharmed. The matter has since been reported to the police."

"The channel takes this matter seriously and will be assisting the staff members with trauma counselling."

Friday, February 14, 2020

Nominees announced for 2020's 14th South African Film and Television Awards as NFVF looks to improve the credibility of the Saftas.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced the nominees of the upcoming 14th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) on Friday morning at a media event held at The Mall of Africa, with M-Net's telenovela The River on 1Magic (DStv 103) that lead the nominations in the TV category with 15 nods, and the film Fiela se Kind that scored 11 nods as the feature film with the most nominations.

The SABC's soap Generations on SABC1, 7de Laan on SABC2, as well as Isidingo on SABC3 were all locked out of this year's Saftas after they failed to enter the South African awards show.

The production companies Word of Mouth Productions producing SABC2's Muvhango, as well as Ferguson Films producing The Queen and The Throne for M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) dropped their Saftas boycott they've maintained for several years and entered their respective soaps and telenovelas again.

Besides having discussions with production companies who have been boycotting the awards show, the Safta organisers have also relooked and refined the judging guidelines for the awards show, with the various scriptwriting categories which are being returned to the main (and televised) award ceremony after they were abruptly dumped last year.

The various Saftas categories have also been relooked, adjusted and reduced to 70.

The 14th South African Film and Television Awards that is moving back from Sun City to Johannesburg, will take place at the Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre over two-nights with the Craft Awards set for Friday 27 March and Main Awards taking place on Saturday 28 March and which will be broadcast live on South African television.

In television the telenovela The River scored 15 nominations, followed by Isibaya and the 4th season of Lockdown which all got 11 nods, and The Republic grabbing 10 nominations.

"I would like to congratulate all our 2020 SAFTAs nominees for telling authentic stories that resonate and connect with the people of South Africa," says Makhosazana Khanyile, NFVF CEO.

"As the NFVF we couldn’t be prouder of the immense contribution that these women and men make to the local film and television industry, not forgetting the broadcasters that provide the platforms for these stories to come alive".

"A key priority for us this year was to bring credibility back to the SAFTAs judging process," she says.

"It is no secret that many production companies have voiced their frustration with our appraisal system, some going as far as to boycott the SAFTAs altogether."

"Having taken this feedback to heart, we’ve taken every measure possible to ensure that the judging process is fair, transparent and without bias. Today I’m proud to announce that as a result of these efforts we’ve received over 300 entries for the SAFTAs," says Khosi Khanyile.

Viewer votes will once again decide the categories of Best TV Presenter and the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela.

The 14th South African Film and Television Awards will be hosted at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre over two-nights: Craft Awards on Friday, 27 March 2020 and Main Awards on Saturday, 28 March 2020 – with the Saturday show broadcast live on television.

Full nominees list to be added here (updating)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

#SONA2020: South African TV coverage of the State of the Nation 2020 Address today.

by Thinus Ferreira

Several TV channels will be doing live coverage and analyses today of the State of the Nation Address 2020 of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The State of the Nation Address is divided into three different parts - the ceremony where the Civil Guard of Honour welcomes the president and his guests as they walk along the red carpet at parliament; then the state ceremonial which includes a 21-gun salute and the South African Air Force flypast, and lastly the official address from the president.

The SABC will broadcast the State of the Nation Address 2020 (#SONA2020) live on TV, radio, its online SABC News channel on YouTube and on its website on Thursday, 13 February.

The SABC will do preview coverage and analyses on various programmes on SABC News (DStv 404) leading up to the address. These shows will cover the Civil Guard of Honour, red carpet arrivals coverage and the 21 Gun Salute.

The SABC says that SABC News reporters and anchors will be on location at parliament and in the Auckland Park studio in Johannesburg to cover the event.

SABC News roving reporters will also be spread across South Africa bring citizens' expectations and reactions in various communities in the run-up to the speech and afterwards.

The SABC will have leading political and economic analysts in studio and on-location helping the audience to make sense of the president's speech.

The red carpet arrivals will be live streamed from 16:00 on the SABC News channel on YouTube until the end of the proceedings as members of the judiciary, cabinet ministers and members of parliament (MPs), including the speakers of the various provincial legislatures, premiers and diplomats arrive at the Company Gardens entrance in Government Avenue to the Old Assembly.

The president's address will be broadcast live at 19:00 on SABC News (DStv 404) and on SABC2.

Following the president's address, a post-analysis of the speech will be broadcast live with experts and reaction from various political parties.

On SABC2 coverage of the State of the Nation Address 2020 speech will start at 18:00 and continue until 21:00, preempting the channel's normal schedule. On Thursday there won't be an edition of the Afrikaans TV news on SABC2. It will be followed by the day's episode of Muvhango at 21:00.

eNCA (DStv 403)
eNCA didn't respond to media enquiries about its SONA coverage and presentation plans but the channel will be doing rolling live coverage of the State of the Nation Address 2020 kicking off from 16:00.

The State of the Nation Address Build-Up starts at 16:00 for three hours after which the channel plans to show the State of the Nation Address 2020 from 19:00 live until 21:00.

In past years eNCA had a pop-up studio in Cape Town's parliamentary precinct and will likely have one again this year.

Newzroom Africa (DStv 405)
Newzroom Afrika says the channel has planned special broadcast coverage of today's event with a senior team of anchors and reporters in both Cape Town and its studio in Linden, Johannesburg.

"Our full day of coverage means live crossings from early in the morning until late into the evening with much analysis and reaction."

"Our seasoned anchor, Cathy Mohlahlana together with our politics editor, Sbu Ngalwa will be hosting our special broadcast from Cape Town - while Stephen Grootes makes his Newzroom Afrika debut from our Linden studios."

Newzroom Afrika says its reporters Ziyanda Ngcobo, Athi Mtongana and Nasiphi Same will be covering the SONA2020 red carpet, the parliamentary precinct and surrounds while Pelane Phakgadi and Malungelo Booi will do the wrap-up coverage, getting reaction and analyses.

CNBC Africa (DStv 410)
CNBC Africa says the channel will broadcast the State of the Nation Address 2020 live from 19:00 until 20:00.

Business Day TV (DStv 412)
Business Day TV will broadcast the State of the Nation Address 2020 live and do post-analysis coverage afterwards until 21:00.

Parliamentary Channel (DStv 408)
Build-up: SONA 2020 coverage kicks off on the channel at 15:00, with a live broadcast of the State of the Nation Address 2020 speech from 19:00 until 21:30.

From 21:30 there is a half-hour Wrap-up: SONA 2020 carrying reaction from various politicians, after which a repeat of the speech is broadcast at 22:00 tonight.

The same coverage will be streamed on parliament's YouTube channel.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Yusuf Nabee out as A+E Networks Africa boss after embarrassing channel carriage conflict with MultiChoice; Johannesburg office restructured as Nazarene Khan takes over as regional manager.

by Thinus Ferreira

Yusuf Nabee is out as A+E Networks Africa boss following the hugely embarrassing and highly damaging channel carriage conflict in late-2019 between A+E Networks UK and MultiChoice in South Africa.

Nazarene Khan, currently head of marketing and sponsorship for the past two and a half years at A+E Networks Africa, is taking over as A+E Networks Africa regional manager from Yusuf Nabee who is gone from the end of February 2020. He was appointed as A+E Networks Africa general manager in May 2016.

A+E Networks Africa held a channels upfront in mid-September 2019 despite no contract extension that was in place for its channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform for South Africa and MultiChoice Africa in sub-Saharan Africa despite MultiChoice that warned A+E Networks Africa not to go ahead with an upfront media event.

A+E Networks Africa did it anyway, followed by brand damage and embarrassment when MultiChoice shortly after announced that it's dumping the A+E Networks' Crime+Investigation Network and History and Lifetime channels provided by A+E Networks UK from November 2019.

MultiChoice executives were adamant that they won't pay what A+E Networks wanted for the channels and that the pay-TV operator isn't willing to accept the terms of a channels carriage agreement renewal.

Angry DStv subscribers started a petition that lured thousands of signatures.

Following the public channels termination announcement, MultiChoice went back to the negotiating table with A+E Networks and hammered out a new deal to keep carrying only History and Lifetime and dropping Crime+Investigation Network.

Yusuf Nabee and the A+E Networks Africa office declined multiple interview requests since November and refused to talk to the media about the embarrassing channel negotiation skirmish which further damaged media relations between A+E Networks Africa and the South African press.

In contrast high-level MultiChoice executives spoke to the media several times about the unfolding matter.

A+E Networks Africa also damaged its image and relationships with local South African production companies who were kept in the dark by A+E Networks Africa after it commissioned them to do shows, not knowing if their shows would go ahead or what's happening.

Disgruntled local producers who were commissioned by A+E to do local shows were upset that their productions - some just-commissioned and some already in post-production - won’t be seen and that they have been kept in the dark about what's going on. 

South African production companies who spoke privately to TVwithThinus were extremely upset, saying they were kept in the dark that A+E Networks didn’t have a channel renewal when their recent content was announced at A+E Networks Africa’s upfront showcase. 

Dean Possenniskie, the managing director of A+E Networks for the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, spoke at A+E Networks Africa's content showcase upfront on 19 September 2019 in Johannesburg where he touted the ongoing, increasing production spending going to the creation of local South African programming on its set of channels. 

The media and content producers slammed A+E Networks for being having been dishonest and secretive, creating a perception that everything was fine and remaining "as is" while A+E Networks in reality didn't disclose that it was at risk of losing its entire set of channels in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

"Yusuf who has been instrumental in establishing A+E's local presence and building our brands has decided the time is right to step down from his role," says Adrian Pilkington, senior vice president for commercial and strategy at A+E Networks for the Africa, Middle East, Nordics and Benelix region, in a statement.

A+E Networks Africa will now be overseen by Nazarene Khan who is promoted to regional manager.

"Nazarene Khan has been a key part of the team for the past few years and working alongside Fatime Kaba, our head of programming and scheduling, we have two very talented executives to build upon the foundation that Yusuf has created. I'm delighted to have her heading up our Africa team."

The SABC says it's not planning to sell off its struggling SABC3 TV channel, nor its 5FM, Good Hope FM or Metro FM radio stations.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster says that the SABC has made no plans or decisions to get rid off and to sell of either its SABC3 TV channel, nor its Metro FM, 5FM, or Good Hope FM radio stations.

The SABC has been evaluating what the struggling broadcaster's "non-core" assets and services are which it should get rid of, but the broadcaster says SABC3, Metro FM, Good Hope FM and 5FM have not been targeted.

"The SABC has been made aware of an article by Inside Politics African Narrative published on 4 February 2020, claiming to have exclusive access to a document titled ‘Repurposing the State-Owned Enterprises as Instruments for Economic Growth’," Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson says in a statement.

According to the article, the public broadcaster could sell off SABC3, Metro FM, 5FM and Good Hope FM and dump its entire commercial broadcasting services as part of reducing its broadcasting mandate.

"Because of the potential uncertainty this information can cause the SABC believes it is necessary to clarify that it is not intending to sell the assets mentioned in the article and has had no discussions with government in this regard," the SABC says.

"As requested by National Treasury and the ministry of communications and digital technologies, the SABC is conducting a thorough process of assessing all its assets, determining which are core and non-core, taking into account a range of factors including public mandate, licence conditions and financial contribution."

The SABC says that the SABC board has approved comprehensive assessment criteria for determining its "core media assets",and says that this includes not only TV and radio channels which are contributing to its public mandate but also ones which help to fund the SABC's public service obligations.

"The SABC board has already identified non-core property assets and has drawn up a list of properties for disposal, as required by National Treasury preconditions."

"The potential disposal of any of the SABC's media assets involves a much more complex decision matrix, with factors such as the public interest, the public mandate and the future financial sustainability of the SABC being central to any decision," the SABC says.

"The SABC remains committed to ensuring that the public service broadcaster fulfils its public service mandate and at the same time striving to be a financially sustainable institution," says Mmoni Seapolelo.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

M-Net adds Oscars 2020 red carpet special with Anele Mdoda for 92nd Academy Awards + full broadcast coverage list for the red carpet and 'cyclone stage' ceremony.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net (DStv 101) has added a half hour Oscars 2020 red carpet special for its prime time schedule on Monday night to intro the 92 Academy Awards with Anele Mdoda who will interview some stars as they make their way into the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

It's the second time that Anele Mdoda will do the Anele at the Oscars special that she presented last year for the first time. It's the third time in history that a South African TV reporter is doing red carpet duty at the Oscars, and the third time that South Africa will have its own red carpet Oscars TV special.

Anele at the Oscars as a recorded show will be broadcast at 21:00 on Monday night, 10 February 2020, on M-Net (DStv 101), followed by the prime time showing of the 92nd Academy Awards at 21:30.

M-Net will also broadcast the awards ceremony as a live simulcast on Monday morning at 03:00 on M-Net Movies (DStv 104). This year the Oscars will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide with MultiChoice and M-Net that have the rights for sub-Saharan Africa.

This year's Oscars stage with be a glittering "cyclone" - a Swarovski-covered stage created by Jason Sherwood.

Important to note is that NBCUniversal's E! (DStv 124) for the 5th year in a row will again not have any actual red carpet coverage during the last hour of red carpet arrivals since those rights belong to the ABC network in America that gets exclusive live red carpet access.

While E! will carry the beginning of the red carpet arrivals live, viewers will have to switch to M-Net Movies to watch the red carpet arrivals live from 23:30, as well as for the official red carpet show starting at 01:30 on Monday morning. M-Net acquired these official red carpet pre-shows as part of the Oscars broadcast package.

Here's your comprehensive TV guide on exactly how, the channels, and the times, where you can watch the show as well as the surrounding red carpet coverage:

Oscars: E!'s Insider Guide
21:00 Sunday 9 February, E! (DStv 124)
A recorded special counting down to one of Hollywood’s biggest nights spotlighting the biggest names who might make a showing this year on the red carpet.

On the Red Carpet: Oscars 2020 The Arrivals 
23:30 Sunday 9 February, M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) LIVE
The official red carpet coverage broadcast kicks off looking at the fashion as the stars arrive and interviews with the stars.

E! Live From The Red Carpet: Oscars 2020
00:00 Monday 10 February, E! (DStv 124) LIVE
E!'s live coverage red carpet coverage of the 2020 Oscars starts. The "E! Glambot" makes a return to the Oscars to capture one-of-a-kind red carpet moments. Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic are the hosts.

E! Stream the Red Carpet: Oscars 2020
▪ 00:40 Monday 10 February, Twitter @enews
E! does a digital show covering the Oscars red carpet as part of its second screen coverage.

The Oscars Red Carpet Show
01:30 Monday 10 February, M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) LIVE
The official red carpet pre-show with presenters Billy Porter, Tamron Hall, model Lily Aldridge and film critic Elvis Mitchell. Beginning at 02:30 when E! must cut away, Ryan Seacrest, for a second year in a row, will switch from E! to join this show as a presenter to cover the last half hour from alongside the red carpet before the ceremony starts.

Red Carpet Rundown: Oscars 2020
02:30 Monday 10 February, E! (DStv 124) LIVE
Since E! is no longer allowed alongside the actual red carpet at this time, fashion correspondents and experts analyse the looks from the stars who've already arrived for Oscar night with photos and commentary.

92nd Annual Academy Awards 
03:00 Monday 10 February, M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) LIVE
The ceremony from inside the Dolby Theatre. The Oscars will once again be hostless this year for a second consecutive year.

Anele at the Oscars 
21:00 Monday 10 February, M-Net (DStv 101)
A pre-recorded half-hour with Anele Mdoda in Hollywood covering the glitz, glam and excitement of Hollywood's biggest night.

92nd Annual Academy Awards 
21:30 Monday 10 February, M-Net (DStv 101)
The prime-time rebroadcast of the awards show.

E! News
▪ 10:20 Tuesday 11 February, E! (DStv 124)
Lilliana Vazquez and Scott Tweedie do a special Oscars 2020 lookback episode with news and commentary about this year's ceremony and red carpet coverage. E!'s team of correspondents will do a special Oscars recap with all the insider secrets, surprises, snubs and backstage shockers, plus the biggest fashion risks and hottest after-parties.

Pop of the Morning
▪ 10:50 Tuesday 11 February, E! (DStv 124)
Lilliana Vazquez, Scott Tweedie and Victor Cruz do a special Oscars 2020 edition of the daily talk show looking back at gossip, issues and sharing their insights of this year's ceremony and red carpet.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Jeremy Maggs out as eNCA acting editor-in-chief; Norman Munzhelele taking over as acting managing director at the scandal-hit TV news channel.

by Thinus Ferreira

Jeremy Maggs is out with immediate effect as acting editor-in-chief at the scandal-hit TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403), saying he's stepping down because of stress, a month and a half after the firing of the politician-made-news-boss Kanthan Pillay in mid-December 2019.

Jeremy Maggs, who is also an anchor on eNCA, has been acting editor-in-chief at eNCA for the past 12 months but asked to step down because he couldn't cope with the stress-load anymore which was having a negative impact on his.

Norman Munzhelele is taking over as acting managing director of eNCA. Norman Munzhelele has been with the eMedia Investments group for 3 years.

Jeremy Maggs will continue to co-anchor the SA Tonight timeslot - the prime time timeslot he originally anchored, then left for the afternoons and then returned to.

"This has not been an easy decision, but for the past few months the stressful nature of the job has caused me to re-evaluate both my position at the station and my life choices. I've been stressed and unwell for some time and I’ve made this decision in my own best interests and that of the station," Jeremy Maggs says in a prepared statement released on Tuesday morning.

Antonio Lee, eMedia Investments COO, says in the statement "We acknowledge Jeremy’s contribution during his tenure as acting editor-in-chief, and accept his wish to step down".

"Jeremy remains one of our top-rated presenters and is inextricably linked to the eNCA brand.  We are exploring other programing opportunities with him.  We thank Jeremy for the job he has done as acting editor-in-chief, and we look forward to continuing our working relationship with him."