Wednesday, May 11, 2022

South Africa's TV industry set for worst ratings damage ever in 2022 due to Eskom's electricity blackouts and analogue signals switch-off.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's television industry and broadcasters - already struggling with sagging TV ratings due to millions of TV households getting cut off from the ability to receive TV signals in the government's switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television - are facing the worst TV ratings damage ever in 2022 because of Eskom's debilitating electricity blackouts.

Bloomberg reports that South Africa is set for the worst year of power cuts as the country's decrepit Eskom power stations continue to fail and that at the current rate of Eskom electricity blackouts, South Africa is on track to have a record Eskom electricity blackout year in 2022.

Eskom's euphemistically called "load-shedding" has an immediate and destructive impact on South Africa's Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS) system, with Eskom's rolling power blackouts wiping millions of viewers and TV households from the measurement grid whenever the struggling monopoly power utility is forced to start stages of unplanned power cuts in the country.

Eskom is on track to exceed the annual record for staged electricity cuts, according to South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. 

The record Eskom load-shedding will therefore translate to record TV ratings damage which is monitored by Nielsen SA and the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA).

Besides Eskom power cuts wiping millions of TV households from the ratings grid and affecting everyone - from pay-TV operators like China's StarTimes operating as StarSat and MultiChoice's DStv, to the SABC and eMedia's and Openview - the country's broadcasters are also seeing viewers evaporate in the government's push to switch off analogue Sentech signals.

eMedia has once again taken South Africa's minister of communications to court over her suddenly rushed analogue signals switch-off schedule, while the SABC's TV ratings has started to sag from month-to-month over the past half a year since Sentech signal distribution got cut in province after province, with decreases in viewership in turn affecting advertising revenue.