Thursday, March 31, 2022

Shawn Godfrey from Cape Town wins MasterChef SA season 4 on M-Net.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Cape Town businessman and father of three Shawn Godfrey (34) lifted the MasterChef SA 2022 trophy above his head in the finale of the fourth season of the cooking reality show MasterChef South Africa on M-Net (DStv 101) on Thursday night after he faced off in a last main-and-dessert cooking challenge against fellow Capetonian Andriette de la Harpe.

The fourth season, produced by Homebrew Films and done at Maker's Landing at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, concluded in a tense supersized final episode on Thursday night in which Andriette de la Harpe first had to face off in a cook-off against the Cape Town senior researcher Tarryn de Kock, with Andriette who won.

For their final challenge, the judges tasked Shawn and Andriette to both "make a main and a dessert that will showcase your evolution from home cook to masterchef". For this, they got an open pantry and 2 hours in the kitchen.

Shawn plated a pork tenderloin and quail eggs in a bird's nest, consisting of crackling crumb, smoked apple puree, bacon, charred leek, and creme fraiche sauce, with a dessert of malva pudding with speculaas branches and lime zest.

Andriette went vegan and prepared butternut steak as her main course, with asparagus, red pepper sauce, ricotta and smoked Chimichurri. Her dessert was custard cake with lemon curd and meringue shards, with peppermint cream, fennel flowers and raspberries. 

"I'm actually shocked," said Shawn. "If you put everything into something, and you just keep practising, learning, failing, and then improving, it can work." 

He said "if I can just hand this over to my kids: be passionate about something, and if you're really passionate about something, put everything in that you can, focus, and just keep learning, keep getting up, keep going. You will get there." 

Shawn who already has four businesses and 100 staff and is a serial entrepreneur with business ventures he had to keep going through the Covid-19lockdown and shutdowns, told TVwithThinus on Thursday that he wants to use his MasterChef SA 2022 win as a launchpad into his next business venture called The Roasted Dad, with his website at that is now live.

"Under that are two subcategories called Little Roast - it's children's cooking apparel like children aprons in leather, baby aprons, and then there are also the adult versions of it called Roasted. I'm looking to partner with a big retailer to launch that."

"The second part of my journey after the MasterChef SA win is to start a pop-up restaurant that will repeat once a month for 4 nights, with chef Callan Austin who was on the show in episode 11 and chef Darren Badenhorst who owns Le Chêne and Le Coin Français."

"The three of us are coming together on 27 April for an exclusive pop-up restaurant which is for 24 people for 4 nights and 10 courses. The first one is in Cape Town but we're planning to also take it to Johannesburg and Durban."

Besides his plans to become a food influencer for corporates, Shawn is also planning to go on a 3-week road trip through South Africa soon with his family all the way through the Kalahari to Pilanesberg and to food-journal the whole trip for three weeks.

"There's a lot happening!" says Shawn.

Tonight's MasterChef SA winner will be from Cape Town. Will it be Shawn, Tarryn or Andriette?

by Thinus Ferreira

The winner of the 4th season of MasterChef South Africa that will broadcast its season finale tonight on M-Net (DStv 101) will definitely be from Cape Town, with either Tarryn de Kock or Andriette de la Harpe who will be going up against Shawn Godfrey in the final competition cook-off.

The MasterChef season 4 finale, produced by Homebrew Films, will have a special hour-and-a-half duration tonight on M-Net with another world-renowned South Africa guest judge and chef making an appearance.

There will be tears, stress, mistakes, and not enough time as the contestants are forced to discard some of their plans, ingredients and even ditch half-prepared food in order to put something on the plate for the judges by the time the MasterChef clock overhead signals that it is all over.

In Wednesday's semi-final, DStv subscribers saw how Cape Town dad Shawn Godfrey (34) won and got a pass through to the final.

It means that the Cape Town senior researcher Tarryn de Kock (25) and the Cape Town entrepreneur Andriette de la Harpe are going to first compete against each other in a cook-off on Thursday evening, after which the best one of the two of them, will face off against Shawn in the night's final MasterChef challenge.

Then the winner will be announced, with the season's 20 MasterChef SA contestants all back in the Maker's Landing test kitchen at the V&A Waterfront to congratulate the winner.

"They just need to clear their mind and just remember that you need to cook with love and passion because that's what brought them into the competition in the first place," says MasterChef SA judge Gregory Czarnecki.

MasterChef SA judge Zola Nene says "this is a moment - whether you're the winner, or you're runner-up or you're third - it's a life-changing moment. It's big! It's big!"

The MasterChef SA judge Justine Drake says "the three of them have put their lives, their hearts, their souls into this journey and they must be feeling enormously proud but also terrified. They're still here to win."

Tarryn says "the person who walked into the MasterChef SA kitchen was not as self-assured as I am now. I've never been confident in my ability, I've never trusted myself as much as I have learnt to trust myself coming here".

Andriette who was retrenched in 2021, says that MasterChef SA "has really been a journey. I've gone through a lot here". 

She says "every cook has been a fight. Every cook is me trying to find me again. I want to win MasterChef for every person who had their worth taken away from them. That has felt that they aren't good enough."  

Shawn says "winning MasterChef SA is something I really want to do for the kids. There are a few fundamentals that you can take out of the MasterChef kitchen: Just stick to your guns, keep persevering, keep recovering. You may hit the bottom but you can keep coming back up". channels to remain on DStv in channel carriage fight.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will no longer remove eMedia's set of four TV channels from DStv at the end of this month with the channels that will remain available to DStv subscribers for about another two months because of a channel carriage fight between the two companies that has now spilt over to a case before the Competition Tribunal.

Channel carriage agreement fights playing out in public and acrimonious channel renewal negotiations have grown in recent years in the United States where channel operators and distributors demand more money per subscriber for successful channels during contract renewals, while pay-TV operators baulk at paying more as they try to keep costs down and yet must try to keep the offering of their overall content bouquet enticing so that subscribers don't cancel.

In contrast, channel acquisition fights have been much rarer in South Africa's pay-TV space, where international and local channel distributors and pay-TV operators have kept their cards much closer to the vest.

These channel carriage fights are likely to become and play out more publicly in South Africa in the future, similar to America, as the traditional pay-TV bundle model worldwide comes under ever-increasing pressure and pay-TV operators in Africa like MultiChoice and China's StarTimes, try to maintain a collection of TV channels in their bundled offerings while trying to keep channel carriage fees as low as possible. 

MultiChoice has now quietly removed the channel termination notices on the eMovies (DStv 138), eMovies Extra (DStv 140), eExtra (DStv 195) and eToonz (DStv 311) TV channels that were all set to go dark on DStv at the end of March 2022 after the pay-TV operator decided to not sign a channel carriage extension contract for those channels with eMedia Investments.

MultiChoice did opt to keep - under a separate agreement - the TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) and (DStv 194) also from eMedia, which includes the 7-day a week eNuus Afrikaans TV news bulletin packaged by eNCA and supplied to M-Net's kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) channels.

eMedia has now gone to the Competition Tribunal, seeking to force MultiChoice to keep carrying eMovies, eMovies eExtra, eExtra and eToonz with the case that might only be concluded in two months' time at the end of May.

On Tuesday eMedia was asked why the channel termination notifications of its channels on DStv disappeared, whether these four channels will now remain on DStv, and if this is because of a new carriage agreement, a temporary agreement and if temporary, what the period is.

eMedia in response to the media query only said that eExtra, eToonz, eMovies and eMovies Extra "will remain on DStv until further notice. We cannot give any further information at this stage". 

eMedia didn't mention that it has taken its channel carriage fight with MultiChoice to the Competition Tribunal.

MultiChoice was also asked for comment, with the company that said it opted to keep the four TV channels on DStv for the time being until the case before the Competition Tribunal has been concluded.

"MultiChoice announced on 2 March that the following eMedia channels - eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and eToonz - will no longer be available on DStv from 31 March 2022," Itumeleng Thulare, MultiChoice spokesperson told TVwithThinus.

"These channels are not part of the new channel carriage agreement to continue to carry eNCA and eNuus programming, concluded between MultiChoice and eMedia in February 2022."

"Despite negotiating and signing the new channel carriage agreement, eMedia filed an application with the Competition Tribunal on 17 March 2022 seeking an order to compel MultiChoice to continue carrying the four channels."

"In light of this development, the four channels will now remain on DStv until this matter is concluded, which we expect to be no later than 31 May 2022."

Channels door remains open
Earlier this month, TVwithThinus asked Marlon Davids, managing director of channels, if the possibility remains for MultiChoice to ever return the to-be-axed channels like eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and eToonz to DStv, or for eMedia to make a carriage deal with StarSat, or whether the door on pay-TV carriage for these channels are permanently closed.

"It will be up to them. Our strategy is that our channels are free-to-air channels and should be available wherever people access channels. So that's their decision, there's no regulation that they need to carry the channels. Our view is that they should."

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

kykNET opens pitching process for short films for its 11th Silwerskermfees film festival in 2023.

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET has opened the short film pitching process for its 11th Silwerskermfees film festival that will be taking place in 2023.

The 10th Silwerskermfees that was held last week at The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay concluded on Saturday night with the award ceremony, with the film festival that returned after a two-year absence since it last took place in 2019.

South African filmmakers can now pitch ideas for possible short films, with dialogue that has to be 80% in Afrikaans. Films can span any genre, from comedy and drama to animation and thrillers. The entry fee is R350 and entries close on 3 May 2022.

Filmmakers who want to pitch can enter on and register. 

Concepts for the short film section at the film festival need to be between 250 and 300 words and must include the duration of the film - which needs to range between 3 minutes to 30 minutes.

M-Net will deliberate over the short film pitches and decide which pitches will be greenlit to be produced into short films.

According to kykNET, the top 40 concepts will be selected later in May this year after which another selection process during a second phase will whittle down the entries further, after which producers will get the opportunity to expand the text, create a production budget and do a director's presentation.

Pitches that are successful after this phase will receive short film financing, as well as guidance and mentorship from the Silwerskermfees organisers to turn their concepts into short films for the 11th edition of the film festival.

Selected short films have to be completed by November 2022.

MultiChoice Nigeria hikes subscription fees of DStv and GOtv over 14% from April 2022, Huriwa group calls increase 'outrageous'.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Nigeria is once again doing a price hike from April 2022 of DStv and GOtv subscription fees in the West African country blaming Nigeria's inflation rate and business operations becoming more expensive.

"In light of the rising costs of inflation and business operations, we have had to review the price of our packages to keep delighting our customers with great entertainment, anytime and anywhere," MultiChoice Nigeria says in a statement.

"Therefore, from 1 April 2022, a new pricing regime for both our DStv and GOtv packages will be in effect."

DStv Premium is increasing to N21,000 naira (R732) up from N18,400, DStv Compact Plus is increasing to N14,250 (R497) from N12,400, DStv Compact will now cost N9000 (R314) from N7900, Confam is now N5300 (R185) from N4615, Yanga N2950 (R103) from N2565, and Padi N2150 (R75) from N1800.

The DStv Business package will now cost N2669 (R93) and Xtraview and the PVR Access Fee will now be N2900 (R101), up from N2500.

MultiChoice Nigeria is hiking GOtv Max to N4150, GOtv Jolli to N2800, GOtv Jinja to N1900 and will cost GOtv Lite N900.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (Huriwa) slammed MultiChoice Nigeria's price hike in a statement, saying "The hike in prices of MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv packages in Nigeria is outrageous and should be reversed with immediate alacrity before 1 April 2022".

"It is no longer news that MultiChoice has consistently exploited billions of dollars from Nigerians in the last three decades since its operations in Nigeria in 1993. The South African company has also used unfair competitive strategies to force indigenous Nigerian competitors to close show," Huriwa claimed.

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. Netflix South Africa's botched Bridgerton Affair and its lack of Indian representation - a media perspective.

by Thinus Ferreira

Dear reader, 

If you've been looking for actual, you know, reporting on what happened there and who said what at Netflix South Africa's quite tacky "A Bridgerton Affair" of this past Friday, you'll struggle to find it.

It's by design. 

Netflix apparently doesn't and didn't want actual "old school" legacy media there, preferring to deal mostly with influencers who might take pretty pictures and drink, opting instead to cut out any communication to a lot of media that would, and used to, cover media engagements in the past.

With even Nigerians and Kenyans flown to Johannesburg to attend the tacky let's-play-dress-up event where Africans got dolled up in old English outfits, Netflix neglected to do basic communication and PR with a lot of South African media who were neither told beforehand it would take place, nor got word, a press release, photos, or even as much as a scandal sheet from Netflix after.

But it's not just a lot of legacy media that Marang Setshawelo, Netflix's publicity director in Amsterdam, and Netflix's South African-used PR companies like DNA Brand Architects and Eclipse Communications are apparently choosing to ignore. 

Besides the terrible and almost non-existent PR, Netflix SA's criticised A Bridgerton Affair event is now also getting slammed by furious South African Indians, media and influencers for its shocking exclusion of adequate representation of Indians.

Over the weekend South African Indians have noted Netflix's bizarre and cringe-decision to apparently exclude them as guests although the second season of Bridgerton - that the hashtagged-event of Netflix's "A Bridgerton Affair" was supposed to promote - features two South Asian lead guest stars for the second season, Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandranwho.

Just like Netflix apparently didn't want actual media at the event that was hosted by former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi and didn't want to bother to communicate with them either before or afterwards, Netflix doesn't now want to talk about the flack it is getting for its lack of Indian representation and its exclusionary guests list for A Bridgerton Affair.

South Africa has the largest Indian population outside of India but couldn't invite a single prominent South African Indian to Netflix SA's launch party for the second season of the show, Alyssa Pillay noted.

"Your PR team didn't know that the second season of Bridgerton had two Indian female leads," said The South African Desi. "And if they did, you failed in acknowledging any Indian female of your country."

"Despite being the platform that the Kandasamys released on, you couldn't even invite one member of that cast to be in attendance," The South African Desi continued, noting that "You have failed us Netflix SA".

Selina Naidoo also slammed Netflix South Africa, writing "Yet again Indians were excluded from another brand event", and saying "I do want to thank the brands and people at the table who are inclusive and are brave enough to speak out when there is no representation and inclusivity".

The flurry of comments criticising Netflix SA and its A Bridgerton Affair ranges from people saying "the number of thoughts I have on the lack of representation at this event are far too many to count", and "extremely disappointed at the representation and the organisers of this event", to "Do better Netflix SA - would love to know which PR and events company was in charge of this fail" and "I love how Bridgerton season 2 is all about Indian representation and yet South Africa fails to understand the assignment once again".

"Netflix SA, please have you PR people actually watch season 2 of Bridgerton and find out what and who it was all about! There is a sheer and blatant lack of diversity yet again," said another, with Miss Dhanusha saying "Imagine hosting A Bridgerton Affair which has two South Indian actresses as the leads and only having like 2 Indians at your event."

It was also laughably sad to notice how Netflix had to pay - with a very, very badly done advertorial - to place something about A Bridgerton Affair in this past Sunday's edition of The Sunday Times newspaper.

Either Netflix SA and its PR companies didn't invite or didn't want to invite even a reporter from The Sunday Times, or the Sunday Times didn't think A Bridgerton Affair was newsworthy enough to cover for this past Sunday's newspaper.

That's exactly what you get when you don't grow and maintain long-term media relationships where you talk to and build up trust and real relationships with reporters, who you know you can invite and who you know will still do what they do, but will likely cover your event with actual real reporting.  

Netflix's ugly mess with A Bridgerton Affair in South Africa is reminiscent of its botched media launch event for Happiness Ever After last year that also had media just shaking their heads in silence, and where Netflix and its PR companies squandered untold opportunities  - again not bothering to even remotely trying to communicate adequately to try and promote the film by reaching out to publications and reporters either beforehand for the media event, with absolutely no communication afterwards or what was said there.

Personally, I don't care about A Bridgerton Affair and wouldn't have been able to attend even if I were invited (I was covering a film festival in another city all week last week). 

However, Netflix SA and its PR companies couldn't bother to communicate that it would happen, didn't want to send an invitation, and there was nothing afterwards to several journalists whose job it is to cover Netflix and television and streaming services in South Africa. 

Even if Netflix South Africa or a PR company just said beforehand that A Bridgerton Affair would happen, picked up a phone, sent an email or did the bare minimum to alert the media, other media and publications and reporters - including me - would still have tried to cover it even if they were not physically present or attending.

Over the weekend and earlier this week I heard from several media whose sentiment on Netflix and A Bridgerton Affair ranged from very angry and angry, to disappointed and disintered. They don't understand. Some don't care anymore. 

Several are struggling to figure out why Netflix SA PR and publicity bosses are so carelessly lazy and seemingly incompetent when it comes to communciation. They vent to me. 

Meanwhile, Netflix SA and its PR companies keep hugging and air-kissing influencers and other panderers, perhaps wondering why Netflix struggles to get credibility and earned media for its South African media events and truthful reviews and opinions from people on their PR lists - but not really properly engaging with them.

Media and influencers not paying for an experience, who want to attend "things" mostly because there's liquor and the chance for drinking and a goodie bag and who don't really care for the content or reporting out to their readers and viewers and listeners about what they see and ask and hear, are always going to disappoint you.

More than anything; more than proper, real media coverage, the main aim of these sorts are to be invited to more things, continuing to force a content brand like Netflix SA to rather buy a badly-done advertorial in a broadsheet because it can't bargain on actual journalists to cover a media event because of a lack of media liaison relationships.

It's really way past due for Netflix South Africa, its PR bosses and public relations companies in this country to get a grip on actual media communication and interaction, proper media liaison and understanding and improving its inadequate approach around issues of inclusion, exclusion and diversity.

Gravel Road Distribution Group launches feature film scriptwriting pitching competition for new South African filmmakers.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Southern African cinema distributor Gravel Road Distribution Group has launched a feature film pitching competition with a cash prize of R100 000 for the best project to support local filmmaking talent as a celebration of its ten year anniversary.

Open to South Africans 18 years old and older, provided they have not had a film made of his or her script concept before, and the prize includes development support, a distribution guarantee and R100 000 cash.

UPDATE 4 April 2022: The pitch submission deadline for the competition has been extended to 15 April 2022.
The short list announcement winners will now be done on 3 May 2022.

The intellectual property of the film concept will remain that of the entrant.

Gravel Road Distribution Group specialises in the distribution of independent films in Southern Africa, and the distribution of local films internationally. 

The company's slate of film releases this year includes The Last BusThe Artist’s WifeSodium DayTubular Bells and the Princess documentary about HRH, the late Princess Diana. 

"Film pitch competitions are a remarkable entry point for people in an industry that is often difficult to get noticed in," says Benjamin Cowley, CEO Gravel Road Distribution Group.

"We hope that this competition becomes a valuable steppingstone, that it will enable promising talent to get exposure and help new film concepts come to the fore in South Africa's vibrant film industry."

The competition includes three elimination stages - including entries, shortlisting and a final round - culminating in an in-person pitch to a panel of industry professionals in Cape Town.

Along the way, entrants will receive constructive feedback, support and input from industry professionals.

The dates are as follows:
Round 1: Entry
Submit a formal pitch deck - deadline 1 April 2022. This deck must include plotline, character bible, treatment and short synopsis. 6 shortlisted projects will be announced on 14 April 2022

Round 2: Shortlist
Shortlisted projects to submit a completed screenplay by 13 May 2022. These will be independently evaluated by international readers. 3 finalists will be invited to participate in the in-person pitch. These finalists will be announced on 3 June 2022.
Script notes will be shared with the 3 finalists, who are required to submit revised drafts by 24 June 2022 for the judging panel to read ahead of the finale.

Round 3: Finale
In-person pitches to panel take place on 7 July 2022 in Cape Town.
Each project team will participate in a closed 1-hour pitch session, where they will present their project to the panel, which will include a question and answer session with the judges.
The winning project will be announced on 11 July 2022.

Information and competition submission details are at:

Netflix to invest R900 million in South Africa's film and TV industry after R2 billion spent on local productions the past 5 years.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix says the video streaming service will invest R900 million in South Africa over the next two years in the country's film and TV industry, in three local and one international production.

Netflix says it is working with production companies like Film Afrika, Gambit Films, Quizzical Pictures and Burt Onion and has spent R2 billion over the last 5 years on South African productions that funded 1 900 jobs.

Film Afrika is producing "Project Panda" in Cape Town at the Cape Town Film Studios - the working title of a live-action drama series, One Piece, that Netflix says is its biggest production in Africa to date in scale and budget and using some of the ships on set that were built and used for A+E Networks' Black Sails series.

It's the first time Netflix made any mention of the apparently noteworthy One Piece which already started filming in Cape Town a while ago, with South African media that were not told when the show was commissioned, that South Africa had been chosen as the production destination, or when filming and production started.  

Netflix says over 50 cast members of "Project Panda" or One Piece are South Africans with over 1 000 crew working on the show.

"Netflix is committed to South Africa for the long term and we're investing in talent both in front of and behind the camera," says Shola Sanni, Netflix's director of public policy in sub-Saharan Africa, in a  prepared statement that was provided after a media query.

"Since our launch in 2016, we've been working with South African creators and distributors to bring high-quality stories that showcase the best of South Africa's creativity and talent to a global audience - and this is only just the beginning."

Netflix says it is trying to create content that can find a global audience that would generate "even more demand for South African content".

"When a Netflix Original is commissioned, there is opportunity for writers, directors, actors, stylists and make-up artists, as well as a long list of industries and trades that make the production of a complex series or film possible."

"There's also a multiplier effect with any investment: the economic impact of each of the projects in South Africa is several times greater than the actual money invested."

Shola Sanni says "Netflix will continue to create new opportunities and help to build up the talent required to support local productions and grow the diversity and variety of stories".

"Netflix will also develop and work with the industry on more industry development and skills transfer and training initiatives to contribute meaningfully to the South African creative industry's growth."

According to Netflix around 80 South African films and TV series have been available on its video streaming service by December 2020, with 26 views of South African content by Netflix households outside of South Africa, for every South African watching something on Netflix.

While multiple South African producers and the local film industry continue to criticise and slam South Africa's department of trade, industry and competition (DTIC) for its lack of support for South Africa's filmmakers and the implosion of its film rebate scheme - for instance Yellowbone Entertainment producing Blood Psalms for MultiChoice's Showmax streamer, Netflix is praising the DTIC.

"We are keen to see the government of South Africa continue to maintain the favourable investment environment that has allowed for such investments thus far - including remarkable initiatives like the foreign film and production incentive scheme that DTIC has operated, which is in part responsible for putting SA at the front of the line as an attractive investment destination for production companies," says Shola Sanni.

"It would be great for our long-term investment plans to see even more transparency and predictability in that area, because the presence of a reliable incentive scheme is crucial for our financial decisions."

TV RATINGS February 2022: The Queen's ratings crown slips as DStv falls below 1 million viewers, SABC2 has a growing ratings problem and's prime time news shines.

by Thinus Ferreira

During February DStv's linear viewership fell to below 1 million viewers for the first time in six years since July 2016, Mzansi Magic's The Queen shed a third of its audience, SABC2 has a growing ratings problem, while's flagship English TV news bulletin at 20:00 is steadily becoming appointment television.

South Africa's February TV ratings delivered further evidence of how SABC viewership is eroding and is growing while analogue transmitters are being switched off in the rush to end the digital migration process.

As South Africa's department of communications and digital technologies and the signal distributor Sentech are on a rushed province-by-province switch-off spree of analogue transmitters, the overall TV ratings of SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 all sagged further in February, while - keeping its transmitters on - is showing ongoing ratings growth.

On SABC1, Uzalo with 6.67 million viewers (Jan: 6.99) and Generations - The Legacy with 5.26 million viewers (Jan: 5.3) were still the channel and the country's two most-watched shows but were both down from January.'s Scandal at 4.98 million viewers was that channel's most-watched show in February and South Africa's third most-watched show on television. is doing so well in the red letter channel's ratings growth, that House of Zwide with 4.05 million viewers and Imbewu with 3.88 million viewers in February, are now both pulling far more viewers than anything on the entire SABC3 and even SABC2 where that channel's perennial top-performer, Muvhango with 3.3 million viewers in February is far less than the 3.95 million viewers it had in January.

How low SABC3 will go is anybody's guess with the channel's ratings that continue to be in freefall. In February SABC3's best number was again lower, plunging further to just 490 709 viewers at most, again down from January's 652 702 and December's 491 171.

SABC3's troubled telenovela The Estate had at most a measly 296 682 viewers at 19:00 during primetime in February, again down from January's paltry 312 382 that makes a production break or cancellation almost a certainty.

Mister Right finds ratings
On SABC1 Skeem Saam dropped from 3.93 million viewers to 3.82 million viewers in February, while the Zulu news bulletin continued its growth from 2.46 million viewers to 2.6million viewers.   

The Xhosa TV news on SABC1 was also up from 2.3 million viewers to 2.54 million viewers. The Siswati/Ndebele TV news made a showing as the 19thh most-watched piece of programming on SABC1 during February with 1.45 million viewers.

The new reality show, 13 Weeks to Find Mister Right made a great debut on SABC1 with 1.55 million viewers.

SABC2 has a problem
SABC2 has a growing ratings problem under the surface. 

While Muvhango lured over 3 million viewers as the most-watched show on the channel, followed by the 2022 State of the Nation Address (2.5 million viewers), a behind-the-scenes insert of new show Ou Toppies (1.4 million viewers), the 2022 Budget Speech (1.28 million viewers) and Giyani (1.12 million viewers), only these five pieces of programming managed to lure more than a million viewers during February to SABC2.

The rest of the SABC2's top 20 schedule is languishing between 824 566 and a shockingly low 440 633 viewers. 

Just a few years ago, even the now-struggling SABC3 had more viewers and higher ratings for its top shows than what SABC2 has now if the veneer of top shows are scraped away.

People will watch news at 8
While TV news isn't about ratings but a public service, decent and strong ratings helps and has a lot to smile about with its flagship English TV news bulletin berthed in the 20:00-timeslot where the SABC years ago said viewers no longer want to watch news. 

It turns out they do.

The strong and stable News bulletin at 20:00 solidified its position as appointment television further in February, climbing further from 1.7 to 1.99 million viewers in February. That is just a tad fewer viewers than's Durban Gen prime time soap which grabbed 2.16 million viewers during February.

In contrast, the English TV news on SABC3 at 18:00 - the broadcaster's flagship TV news bulletin - lured just 409 579 viewers.

The Queen comes down
On pay-TV, MultiChoice's linear DStv audience slipped below 1 million viewers for the first time since mid-2016 with 942 293 DStv subscribers that tuned to Gomora on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) in February as the most-watched show on DStv for the month, down from the 1.16 million who watched in January.

The Queen, from Ferguson Films also on Mzansi Magic, which officially got its cancellation notification, shed an eye-popping third (-30.9%) of its audience in just a month, plummeting from 1 096 713 viewers in January to 757 333 in February.

A Big Brother Mzansi highlights show on Mzansi Magic, putting it in 10th place for the month, eked out a disappointing 487 770 viewers on 13 February, the most viewers the reality show managed to muster.

The River (733 559 to 560 428), Diep City (698 085 to 637694), Mnakwethu (909 194 to 457 619), The Republic (768 592 to 531 246) and Our Perfect Wedding (798 792 to 511 282) all took a tumble during February on DStv.

Umndeni on Moja Love (DStv 157) was also down from 603 097 to 482 880 viewers in February.

South Africa will get discovery+. Here's how.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa will definitely also get discovery+, the video streaming service of Discovery Inc. which is not yet available in the country, and it will happen through Warner Bros. Discovery combining its existing separate HBO Max and discovery+ streaming services into one streamer.

WarnerMedia that is fast expanding its streaming service HBO Max across Europe is already on record that it wants to expand HBO Max all over the globe, similar to Netflix and The Walt Disney Company's Disney+ that will arrive in South Africa anytime from June this year.

Since Discovery Inc. has not said anything about a planned rollout for its discovery+ for South Africa or Africa specifically, it has meant that viewers have been kept in the dark until now about whether they would ever get access to it and the additional content on the streamer like the expanded 90 Day Fiancé franchise, even more shows from Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV, TLC, the Discovery Channel and other discovery+ Originals.  

Now, with Warner Bros. Discovery announcing that it will combine HBO Max and discovery+ in international markets - possibly in the way that Disney+ has different branded tiles incorporating National Geographic, Marvel, Disney, Star, Star Wars and Pixar - and with HBO Max that will definitely launch in South Africa, it means that South Africans will get access to discovery+.

Gunnar Wiedenfels, Discovery CFO, who will also serve as CFO of the combined Warner Bros. Discovery, revealed at the Deutsche Bank 30th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference during a webcast that Warner Bros. Discovery is planning and already busy with preparations to combine HBO Max and discovery+.

Following the merger within a month of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. into Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO Max and discovery+ will initially be bundled together, but the two services will eventually be merged into one streaming service.

"We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition," Gunnar Wiedenfels said.

"The question is, in order to get to that point and do it in a way that's actually a great user experience for our subscribers - that's going to take some time."

"Again, that's nothing that's going to happen in weeks - hopefully not in years, but in several months, and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime."

"So right out of the gate, we're working on getting the bundling approach ready, maybe a single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, so that we can start to get some benefits early on."

"But the main thrust is going to be harmonising the technology platform - building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer (DTC) product and platform - that's going to take a while."

One of the 'most complete' streamers
Gunnar Wiedenfels said that "One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle".

"The combination could not make more sense than what we're doing here. We have HBO Max, with a more premium, male-skewing positioning, and then you've got the female-positioning on the Discovery side."

"You've got the daily engagement that people enjoy with Discovery content versus sort of the event-driven nature of the HBO Max content."

"Take that together, I have no doubt that we will be creating one of the most complete, sort of four-quadrant, old-young, male-female products out there."

"I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to see the first combined direct-to-consumer metrics because, in theory, the acquisition power of HBO Max, combined with the retention power of the Discovery content, I think is going to make for a blowout DTC product - and that should certainly drive very healthy revenue growth for years to come."

Once HBO Max and dicovery+ launch as a combined video streamer in South Africa as a standalone service, it could possibly also be carried by MultiChoice on its DStv Explora Ultra that has Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Sky in the United Kingdom and Europe already made multiple partnership deals to carry streamers ranging from Disney+ to SkyShowtime, Paramount+, discovery+ and several others.

Paramount's Paramount+ streamer is set to launch in South Africa early in 2023. 

The South African public broadcaster that was supposed to launch its own video streaming service before the end of this month, modelled after the BBC's iPlayer, has moved its launch out to the third quarter of this year, meaning to somewhere around July to September.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

South Africa's High Court orders a technical delay of the country's analogue TV switch-off date from April to July 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's high court has ordered the country's government and its department of communications and digital technologies to technically delay the country's analogue television signal switch-off date from the end of March to the end of June 2022.

While the Pretoria High Court found that the government has done enough to help poor TV households get a free set-top box (STB), it also ruled that STBs for more than 507 000 households who have registered by 31 October 2021 to receive one, must be handed out and properly installed by 30 June 2022.

By the end of September another 261 000 households got STBs but millions of households still require a means to access DTT and risk losing their free TV access in the country and being wiped from the ratings system as households watching television. 

More than 8.25 million poor South Africans will be left without free-to-air television if analogue signals are terminated, with around half (4 million) of's viewers falling in this group.

In South Africa's long-delayed digital migration process to DTT, the government started switching off Sentech's analogue transmitters since March 2021, with five provinces that have had their analogue signals cut, including the Free State, Northern Cape, North West province, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

The Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have not yet lost their analogue signals and collectively comprise 68% of South Africa's total population.

eMedia took the government to court saying the suddenly-rushed date of analogue switch-off of 31 March 2022 is not realistic and will damage free-to-air broadcast ratings in the country like its channel, with the SABC that eventually joined eMedia after its rating also started falling, in criticising the minister's date decision.

Fin24 first reported that the Pretoria High Court has ruled that the government and department of communications must push out the switch-off date by a further three months to the end of June 2022.

The additional three months for digital migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) is far short of what eMedia wanted.

The High Court in its judgment said "It is in the interest of the country, the economy and for South Africans in general that the digital migration be finalised".

The High Court ordered to pay 50% of the minister of communications' legal costs, and the full legal costs of Vodacom and the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) who were two respondents in the court case.

eMedia told TVwithThinus on Tuesday in response to a media query that " notes the judgment of the High Court and is currently giving consideration to its legal options".

Disney+ to launch 18 May in South Africa at R119 per month.

by Thinus Ferreira

Disney+ will launch on 18 May in South Africa and cost R119 per month, or R1 190 per year - a month earlier than what Disney+ was expected to arrive in South Africa. 

At R119 per month, Disney+, entering South Africa behind MultiChoice's Showmax, Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and others, are cheaper than Netflix's R159 per month, but pricier than Showmax's R99 per month and Amazon Prime Video's R87 per month.

Disney+ offers up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices, and the ability to set up to 7 different profiles, including the ability for parents to set Kids Profiles that have an easy-to-navigate, child-friendly interface to access age-appropriate content.

The Disney+ interface has various "tiles", grouping content under Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and general entertainment from Star.

The arrival of Disney+ on 18 May will definitely add further oil on the fire of the heated race under over-the-top (OTT) direct-to-consumer streaming services in the South African market, with a big pent-up demand under consumers who have wanted to get access to Disney+ and content ranging from Star Wars: The Mandalorian to the recent The Book of Boba Fett series.

At R119 per month in South Africa, Disney+ will cost the same as in the United States with only a few countries like Brazil, India and Argentina getting Disney+ for cheaper. 

At its R119 price, Disney isn't giving any kind of "introductory" cheaper offer as a late-comer to the South African market for consumers - which was actually expected - but is coming in below the psychological threshold of R130 which was also expected.

Disney+ will be cheaper for South Africans than in New Zealand (R121), Australia (R132) and the United Kingdom (R153).   

Monday, March 28, 2022

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards over wife Jada Pinkett Smith joke as Apple TV+'s CODA wins Best Picture.

Will Smith responded with physical violence and slapped Chris Rock through the face at the 94th annual Academy Awards that the audience initially thought was a joke, with the Oscars organisers who said it doesn't condone violence, and with the deaf family drama CODA from Apple TV+ which won the Oscar on Sunday night as Best Picture.

AFP reports that this year's toxic Oscars was marred when the shocking altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock on stage changed the mood of the awards show after the physical assault on a Hollywood stage that was seen worldwide.

According to Reuters, the audio from the 94 Academy Awards, broadcast on a time delay of a few seconds in the United States and that was simulcast on MultiChoice's M-Net (DStv 101), was cut from the live broadcast for many viewers because of the language.

Chris Rock was busy roasting some of the nominees and mentioned Jada Pinkett Smith, saying: "Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane II, can't wait to see it."

Moments later, Will Smith walked on stage toward Chris Rock, who had his hands behind his back. Then Will Smith suddenly and shockingly slapped Chris Rock with an open hand at his face that produced an audible smack.

"Oh, wow! Wow! Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me," Chris Rock said as the audience laughed, thinking it was a joke skit. 

"Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke," Chris Rock said, referencing the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actor Demi Moore shaved her head.

In December, Jada Pinkett Smith told Billboard she has been battling the autoimmune disorder alopecia, which can cause hair loss and balding.

"Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth," Will Smith then said.

"I'm going to. That's the greatest night in the history of television," Chris Rock said, with Will Smith that repeated his phrase, louder and more deliberately.

The audience initially thought Will Smith's indignation was feigned and part of the act. 

It was only after Will Smith returned to his seat and shouted that the Oscars audience inside the Dolby Theatre went silent and audibly gasped. 

Will Smith later won the Oscar for playing Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Will Smith apologised to the Academy but not to Chris Rock when he accepted his award.

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Will Smith said. "I hope the Academy invites me back."

The Academy in a statement said "The Academy does not condone violence of any form".

The recorded version of the 94th Academy Awards will be shown on M-Net (DStv 101) on Monday night at 21:30.

Friday, March 25, 2022

TV REVIEW. Halo's Master Chief starts a solid space quest in TV adaptation.

8 TVs

by Thinus Ferreira

A helmeted soldier on a distant desert-like planet fights against enemies, saves a child, decides to protect said child, is seen to have experienced childhood trauma in back flashes, travels the galaxy and meets up with allies as enemies plot, while a bigger origin story and overall mystery both start to unfold.

Nope, not Star Wars' The Mandalorian on Disney+ that South Africans can't see, but the new science fiction drama series Halo, based on the popular video game, from Paramount+ but snagged by MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax that South Africans indeed can see.

Whether you've played Halo and are familiar with Cortana and Master Chief and the Covenant or not, sci-fi series lovers will definitely like this live-action drama adaptation. 

Warning: Dads don't watch with your kids - the first 10 minutes has exploding human heads and bodies not fit for children, although the rest of the first two episodes made available to TV critics for preview are fine.

Halo is a more than adequate TV adaptation of the video game with the story set in motion when Pablo Schreiber as Spartan Master Chief John-117 saves Kwan Ah (Yerin Ha) on the planet Madrigal and he touches an alien artefact that he can somehow access.

The alien device triggers long-blocked memories of the Spartan soldier who starts his space quest going AWOL while the UNSC and scientist Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone), creator of the Spartan programme, tries to get him to return.

Set in 2552, viewers are also introduced to the Covenant - a religious group of aliens who raised a human called Makee (Charlie Murphy) - who are after the sought-after artefact themselves, with Makee dispatched at the end of the second episode to herself go and retrieve it.

The acting, set design, special effects and story in Halo are more than adequate and Master Chief removes his helmet within the first two scene-setting episodes, unlike The Mandalorian, with video game arcana like Cortana and High Charity being introduced without the viewer having to have played the game to make sense of the show and the start-up story.

Pablo Schreiber brings a likeability, human touch and humanity to the Master Chief armour while older Gen X viewers will enjoy spotting numerous easter eggs from the Halo mythos as well as touchpoints and subtly interwoven themes shared with a myriad of sci-fi stories that came before from Total Recall to Starship Troopers.

Halo is definitely worth the watch, isn't (just) for gamers, isn't a straight-up story adaptation of the video game ( a right decision by the producers) with Master Chief making a solid start in the first two world-building episodes.

Halo season 1 is on Showmax from 25 March with new episodes released weekly.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Blood Psalms misses February debut date on Showmax.

by Thinus Ferreira    

The Showmax series Blood Psalms, hamstrung by financial payment issues behind the scenes with the South African government's film rebate scheme, has been postponed yet again to later in 2022 after it was supposed to debut in February.

Blood Psalms written, produced and directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and Layla Swart Najaar from Yellowbone Entertainment, was originally supposed to start in October 2021 on MultiChoice's video streaming service. 

In the fantasy drama series mostly filmed in the Eastern Cape, as well as in the Gauteng and North West provinces, Zolisa Xaluva plays soldier Toka with Zikhona Sodlaka who plays Sithenjwa and with the two characters who end up marrying each other.

Thando Tabethe plays Heka, a god manifesting as a physical being, with Faith Baloyi as Queen Assilli and the court's advisor with access to magic, while Bokang Pehalane is cast in the role of the teenage Princess Zazi trying to save her people from a world-ending prophecy.

The multi-million rand series that has been in production for over two years - billed as the largest and most expensive series ever filmed in Africa and produced on South African soil - was delayed due to a scandal involving South Africa's department of trade, industry and competition and the country's film rebate scheme.

After missing its planned October 2021 release, Blood Psalms was pushed to February 2022.

Blood Psalms now also missed this February debut date and has been postponed again, with no new premiere date from Showmax.

"Blood Psalm was planned to launch on Showmax in February," Laura Cooke, Showmax head of publicity, told TVwithThinus in response to a media query after people asked why Blood Psalms didn't start in February.

"Even though we know our customers are excited about this show, the launch had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. Once we have a new confirmed date, we will share it."

Following a media presentation in Dubai for Blood Psalms in October 2021 organised by MultiChoice, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka afterwards said that it was "an embarrassment" to be in Dubai, inviting the world to do business in South Africa and to film productions in the country "when we have not put the mechanisms in place for that to happen".

At issue is the department of trade, industry and competition which abruptly cancelled its payments of millions of rand that were approved for the making of Blood Psalms in the country's film rebate scheme that has also been impacting other film productions in the country.

Almost half of the R85 million production cost of Blood Psalms is funded through the film rebate scheme of the department. 

R8 million earmarked to pay for just post-production work on the MultiChoice and Canal+ co-production that has over 300 visual effects artists working on the show, was for instance abruptly cancelled in September 2021. 

Besides this, there was another R16 million payment to be made in a rebate payment by the DTIC once Blood Psalms was a fully completed show.

The government's film rebates are paid out at specific production milestones with producers getting financial support while they're completing their content: At the start of principal photography, when filming wraps, the start of post-production, and then delivery of the completed video production.

The DTIC in a statement in late-2021 said that "It would be inappropriate to continue these discussions in the media as the discussions have not yet been concluded and both parties have undertaken to work diligently to conclude outstanding matters. The Yellowbone matter is sub-judice and it would be unlawful to comment."

Bongani Lukhele, DTIC spokesperson, didn't respond with answers to a media query earlier this month from TVwithThinus seeking comment about the department's film rebate scheme as it pertains to Blood Psalms, which rebates the government decided not to pay and what amount of money is still due to Yellowbone Entertainment from the rebate scheme.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

M-Net brings a 10-week Recipe for Love and Murder to Sunday nights at 8pm.

by Thinus Ferreira

As more South African TV channels join the trend of shifting to showing locally produced series in the Sunday night 20:00-timeslot, M-Net (DStv 101) is once again pushing its entrenched movie slot to 21:00 for 10 weeks from tonight to showcase the new crime-solving series Recipes for Love and Murder

Like Trackers in 2019 and Reyka in 2021, M-Net is once again moving its iconic Sunday night movie berth an hour later for a third time to broadcast the 10-episode murder mystery series from M-Net, Both Worlds Pictures, AMC Networks' Acorn TV and Global Screen.

Filmed in the Northern Cape's Karoo, Cape Town and Scotland, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Tony Kgoroge lead the ensemble cast in this small-town mystery series based on Sally Andrew's novels about a woman with a pet chicken.

With the series sliding between genres and moments which are both heartwarming, chilling and shocking, the TV adaptation - written by Karen Jeynes also directing with Christiaan Olwagen - has a cast that includes Jennifer Steyn as Jattie Wilson, Elton Landrew as Constable Piet, Arno Greeff as Warrant Officer Regardt Snyman, Lee Duru as Grace, Alan Committie as Cornel van Wyk, Rolanda Marais as Candy, Bennie Fourie as Dirk Burger who is the main murder suspect; and Daneel van der Walt as Anna Pretorius.

Following the murder of Martine Burger (Tinarie van Wyk Loots) in her home who was trapped in an abusive marriage, Maria Doyle Kennedy's character of Maria Purvis, nicknamed Tannie Maria, decides to team up with her younger, feisty colleague Jessie September (Kylie Fisher) to solve Martine's murder.

Meanwhile, questions swirl around Maria's secretive past in Scotland, while the murder investigation leads to several twists and turns involving ex-boyfriends, greedy family members, land development, religious fanatics, chaotic funerals, and pomegranates.