Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Canal+ and Showmax behind the wheel for 8-episode Cape Town co-production car racing drama series Spinners.

by Thinus Ferreira

Canal+ and MultiChoice have teamed to film yet another co-production in South Africa, this time an action drama series called Spinners going inside the dangerous world of car spinning in Cape Town with the 8-episode series which will be on MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax.

In March, speaking as a panellist at kykNET's 10th Silwerskermfees film festival in Camps Bay, Allan Sperling, MultiChoice Group's executive head of physical production, hinted that "an Afrikaans co-production has been signed and we're going into production within the next few months".

"It is possible to do Afrikaans international co-productions. We're in partnership with Canal+ who are taking the French rights and the rest of the world will be up for sales and this is where we're looking to recoup and the producer also gets proceeds from that. So it is also possible for Afrikaans shows to become co-productions," he said a few months ago.

Production on Spinners, which is the show that Allan Sperling referenced, is produced by Empreinte Digitale and Natives at Large with Jaco Bouwer as director and Benjamin Hoffman as co-creator and showrunner.

Filming on Spinners started in the Mother City this week, with the story revolving around Ethan, a 17-year old driver working for a local gang who discovers car spinning in which he excels and where he puts his driving skills to use.

Under the shadow of a looming gang war and with his gang being run by gangster Damien with an iron fist, Ethan tries to support his younger brother while he is increasingly disgusted with his own life, and tries to use car spinning as his exit from gang life.

The cast of Spinners include Cantona James and Chelsea Thomas from the Cape Town based Afrikaans telenovela Arendsvlei on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145), as well as Brendon Daniels and Dillon Windvogel, with the series which will be in English, Afrikaans and Kaaps Afrikaans.

The hip hop star DJ Ready D is the Spinners music supervisor and responsible for composing the show's soundtrack.

Meanwhile post-production is still continuing on Blood Psalms from Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and Layla Swart Najaar's Yellowbone Entertainment, with the African fantasy drama series which is another MultiChoice and Canal+ co-production earmarked for Showmax.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Someone was very late, some jokes removed from the script but no off-limit topics: The insider secrets of Comedy Central's Roast of Khanyi Mbau.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Monday night DStv subscribers will be able to tune into the latest Comedy Central Roast, this time with Khanyi Mbau as the first black African woman to be roasted, with TVwithThinus that can reveal that behind-the-scenes one of the panellists arrived "horrendously" late and that nobody asked for any topics or parts of their personal lives to be off-limits - although the writing team did remove some jokes from the script themselves that went a bit too far. 

The Comedy Central Roast of Khani Mbau, recorded last month inside the Teatro at Montecasino in Fourways in northern Johannesburg, will air on Comedy Central (DStv 122) on Monday night 8 August at 21:00, with the uncensored and uncut version which will be released on MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service on 15 August.

The panellists giving Khanyi Mbau and each other a roasting are the controversial podcaster Sol Phenduka, actor Sello Make Ka Ncube, hip-hop artists Nada Nakai, comedian John Vlismas, actress Celeste Ntuli, radio presenter SelBeyonce Mkhize, broadcaster Tbo Touch, rapper YoungstaCPT and investigate journalist Devi Sankaree Govender, with Mpho Popps as the Roastmaster.

As to why Paramount Africa decided to bring back the Comedy Central Roast Africa for another edition in 2022, Dillon Khan, video president of Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VIS and Creative Service Africa at Paramount Africa, tells TVwithThinus that after the Covid 19-pandemic "Mzansi needed to laugh".

"We know that the Roast is such a popular format and it was great timing to do the Roast to make everybody laugh again."

With some of the jokes and ribbing between the roasters that would definitely not make it to television today in the United States if done there with where audiences in that country are currently, TVwithThinus asked Dillon Khan about how Paramount Africa sees so-called "cancel culture".

"I think that what the Roast is, is an acceptable format in so far as being able to poke fun; being able to make jokes," he says.

"I think the format and context is so, so important. I think people understand the context of the Roast is really about roasting ones you love. It's never done from a mean place. It's never done with vitriol. It's always done with a view of celebrating people but in a fun and jovial way".

"There will always be a respect element that's attached to it. There are some jokes that were written into the scripts that were taken out because we felt that it went beyond a line," he reveals.

"So, I think that we want to push boundaries with the Roast."

"That's what the format is and that's why people take part in it and they put themselves forward - they go in fully eyes-open as to what the Roast is. It's not a brand-new format. People know what it is and they put themselves forward to do it in the spirit of knowing that it's about celebrating rather than coming from a mean place of pulling someone down."

"This year was one of our most diverse and inclusive panel make-ups. We have a wide group of people in the writing room, we had a lot of people giving input in the script to ensure that it was fit for purpose."

About what he's learnt from African audiences and their response to something like a Comedy Central Roast and how the African version has changed over the past couple of years, Dillon Khan says "it's about evolving the teams who work on it".

"The teams working on it behind-the-scenes - your writing team, the agency and creatives that we used to put the creative together, the tagline of 'Triggered? Good' came from the agency that we work with. The lead creator was female, the head strategist was female, so it's really good to try to have as many different voices and different people to work on a project because they will always safeguard any blindspots that you may have."

"If you just go with  - for argument's sake - only a handful of men, or just a handful of men and women, do you have LGBTQ+ representation? D you have diversity in race baked into teams? You can try and safeguard yourself and ensure that you are true to as wide an audience as possible."

"Somewhere along the line there will be mistakes, and when you're pushing boundaries and you try and entertain especially in the comedy space, there will be mistakes," says Dillon Khan.

"I think being able to look at those and where you've misstepped and being able to put your hand up and say 'Mea culpa' and this was a mistake and we are rectifying it - nobody in this world has not made a mistake. If you take the approach of doing the groundwork beforehand, you minimise any blind spots."

Dillon Khan says what surprised him about the live event held and recorded at the Teatro was "that we were sold out a week in advance".

"That gave us an indication that people were very desperate for the format to come back - for a night out to enjoy themselves without how it was during Covid with wearing masks and one-and-a-half metres of distance. This was like the 'good old days' of being in the Teatro, people mingling, coming with their friends, dressing up and coming for a night out and being entertained with a premium level of comedy".

"I think this will be the most successful Comedy Central Roast that we've had on Comedy Central and Showmax - just seeing everybody so excited and staying until late."

"We started slightly late due to some technical issues, but when we did get going everyone stayed committed to the show all the way through to the end which was around one o'clock in the morning. The panellists kept the energy in the room all night long".

Dillon Khan reveals to TVwithThinus that neither Khanyi Mbau nor any of the panellists requested "outs" or any subjects about them or their personal lives being made off limits.

"Everybody was very open to the idea of being true to the Roast. Nobody came with 'can't talk about this, can't talk about that and you can't joke about this'. Everybody was super open to the Roast, there wasn't anyone holding back and that's good because you don't want anyone coming and saying here are 10 topics which are off limits."

"Then it's not a Roast, then it's something different. Nothing held the writing team back or was not true to the format."

"One person turned up horrendously late. Didn't get a chance to rehearse on the stage - but did an amazing job when we went live."

Wig-ripping former Miss Nigeria Beauty Tukura evicted from DStv's Big Brother Naija Level Up after lunging at housemate during drunken brawl, damaging property and throwing objects at housemates.

by Thinus Ferreira

The former Miss Nigeria and Big Brother Naija: Level Up housemate Beauty Tukura (24) was evicted on Sunday night from the latest 7th season of MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa's camera-filled reality show after her violent behaviour that included ripping a fellow housemate's wig, throwing things, as well as damage to property.

Beauty Tukura, who appeared to have been drunk, was issued her first warning and strike after her aggression towards Big Brother Naija housemate Ilebaye and ripping her wig.

Beauty was warned that the MultiChoice show filmed in Lagos does not tolerate violence after she had physically charged at the housemate and removed items on her body like her wig in a violent manner.

On Sunday night, an hour before the week's live eviction show on DStv, the producers disqualified and removed Beauty for another double strike for damage to property on Saturday night, meaning that the former Miss Nigeria was out of the show after three strikes.

Producers told Beauty Tukura that "Your actions last night were out of line; you should have managed your emotions. You removed your microphone; you threw another object at Groovy after throwing your glasses, wig at him" and trying to break his microphone.

MultiChoice and M-Net have had problems with violence and sexual assault in previous seasons of Big Brother Naija and South Africa's version of Big Brother Mzansi.

In Expresso return, Katlego Maboe reveals he had 'thought the darkest thoughts'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Crying and wiping tears away in an interview in front of the cameras and broadcast early on Monday morning, the disgraced presenter Katlego Maboe now returning to SABC3's Expresso, revealed that he had suicidal thoughts, saying he had "thought the darkest thoughts".

Katlego Maboe became embroiled in a cheating scandal in October 2020 when a video surfaced in which he admitted to his girlfriend and mother of his son, Monique Muller that he had cheated on her and had sex with another woman.

Monique Muller alleged that Katlego Maboe gave her a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) and "damaged her womb", affecting the chances of her having another child, and had "physically attacked" her.

After that Katlego Maboe lost his work at Cardova TV and disappeared from television, including TV commercials, following his infidelity scandal, with Monique Muller who got a protection order against Maboe.

Monique Muller who made claims of domestic abuse, sought to make the protection order permanent, but in January 2022 the magistrate set the protection order aside. 

It's still unclear if the SABC, which was asked, will be doing an interview with Monique Muller on Expresso on SABC3 as well for the same time duration to tell her side of the story, with comment which will be added here if received.

Meanwhile, the gender-based violence NGO Women for Change slammed SABC3 and Expresso for reappointing Katlego Maboe as presenter, saying "This is how Expresso celebrates Women's Day" in an Instagram Story with the NGO which added that its legal battle against Katlego is still in court proceedings.

On Monday morning, Katlego Maboe got hugs on-air from Expresso presenters Ryle De Morny, ZoĆ« Brown and Graeme Richards, with the edition which was short of specific questions about the scandal, and was framed around a redemption story and Katlego Maboe's growth and self-actualisation and what he has learnt from the situation he suddenly found himself in almost two years ago.

In the sit-down interview recorded on the Expresso-set in Tokai, Cape Town last week, Katlego Maboe said "I'm not perfect at all" and said "I just had to face myself and had to come to terms with that flawed person that I am".

"There was a moment where I thought the darkest thoughts and I don't want to belabour the point too much. I think everyone goes through their own individual trials and you think: 'But wouldn't it be better if it was just done?' and then my family wouldn't have to worry about having to call me every day."

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Jeremy Mansfield has terminal liver cancer, looking to have 'as much fun in the time I have left'.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African radio and TV personality Jeremy Mansfield who revealed in January that he's battling cancer again has announced that it's terminal and that he's now looking to have "as much fun in the time I have left".

Jeremy Mansfield who will celebrate his 59th birthday next week, in a new Facebook entry announced that his primary liver cancer has advanced to Stage 4 and that he now has terminal cancer and will be undergoing palliative care.

"Have had it confirmed by the specialist surgeon that is leading everyone in the team looking after me that my cancer is confirmed stage 4, terminal and is now only subject to palliative care."

"This dream team (as I now refer to them) will now guide me through how to have as much fun in the the time I have left and fullfill as many dreams, big and small, I have in my bucketlist. A new journey for Kari and the rest of our families starts today," Jeremy Mansfield wrote.

He placed a photo of Hospice Wits with the Facebook entry announcing his terminal diagnosis.

Mansfield is known for his years of work as a radio and TV presenter on SuperSport, Front Row, the host of A Word or 2 on SABC2, CNBC (DStv 410), voice-over and MC work, and is the author of humour and cookbooks. He was a presenter on 94.7's The Rude Awakening for 13 years between 1997 and 2010 and is currently seen on his Mansfield2day YouTube channel.

Jeremy Mansfield battled and survived leukaemia 13 years ago.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery to combine HBO Max and discovery+ video streamers under new name, earliest South Africa launch in late-2024 or later.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africans will never get access to the global video streaming services HBO Max or discovery+, with these streamers now getting combined into one - with a new name - which will only be rolled out in South Africa in late-2024 or even later.

Warner Bros. Discovery is also going to keep more TV shows and content back it used to sell to channels like M-Net (DStv 101) to bolster its own streaming service, as it also scales back its content investment on linear TV channels available on DStv like Cartoon Network, to try and save billions of dollars.

The newly combined Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) released its second quarter earning report late on Thursday night and confirmed that HBO Max and discovery+, already available in the United States and other countries, will never see the light of day in South Africa as they're getting combined under a new name and "relaunched" next year.

South African consumers already have access to MultiChoice's Showmax, The Walt Disney Company's Disney+ since a few months ago, Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video, VIU, TelkomONE,'s eVOD and with the South African public broadcaster planning to launch its SABC+ in late-2022, and with Paramount also supposed to launch its Paramount+ in 2023.

On WBD's Q2 earnings call on Thursday night, JB Perrette, WBD CEO and president of global streaming and games, said HBO Max and discovery+ are getting combined and will relaunch first in America in 2023 under an as-yet-unannounced name.

"At the end of the day, putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this a viable business," he said.

The newly combined streaming service will initially be focused on subscription-driven sign-ups, although it also plans to launch a cheaper ad-filled tier, similar to what Netflix and Disney+ plan to launch.

After the American launch in 2023, WBD will launch its new combined streaming service in Europe in ealy-2024, in Asia-Pacific countries in the middle of 2024, and then in other markets in late-2024. Africa and South Africa haven't been mentioned, meaning it would only get the service in either late-2024 at the earliest, or sometime from 2025.

Kids content cut
Warner Bros. Discovery also confirmed on Thursday night it's cutting back on kids content, with the company running children's channels like Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Toonami which are available as linear TV channels across sub-Saharan Africa on traditional satellite pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv and StarTimes' StarSat.

On the earnings call, Gunnar Wiedenfels, WBD chief financial officer, said animation and kids content across both the streaming services and linear TV channels are getting cut back. 

He also mentioned that WBD is ending local content investment in international markets, putting a question mark behind some of the local investments the company has been making in content like CN to the Rescue on Cartoon Network Africa and My Cartoon Friend nominated for an upcoming SAFTA award in the Best children's programme category.

Gunnar Wiedenfels also mentioned that WBD is going to hit the pause button on new content licensing deals and that there will be a significant reduction in external content sales. 

M-Net in Africa and MultiChoice's Showmax have for instance benefitted for years from HBO output and content licensing and distribution deals to grab series ranging from Game of Thrones and the upcoming prequel House of the Dragon.

MultiChoice Africa and M-Net also lost its top West Africa content boss Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu who jumped to Amazon Prime Video as head of Nigerian Originals.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net have also lost Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, one of its top content bosses in West Africa to Amazon Prime Video, as part of the ongoing exodus of top executive talent at the pan-African pay-TV operator.

Not widely reported, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu who was the regional director of M-Net West Africa, jumped ship to Amazon Prime Video a few months ago as head of content acquisition for Amazon Prime Video in Africa, after which she was appointed in the role of head of Nigerian Originals, a position that Amazon advertised 

Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu joined MultiChoice and M-Net in 2012 as M-Net West Africa regional manager.

Neither MultiChoice nor M-Net said anything when Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu left to Amazon and didn't announce her exit, with her jump to greener pastures which is similar to the flurry of other MultiChoice and M-Net executives and staffers who have continued to leave in a steady stream for jobs at video streaming companies like Netflix Africa, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video over the past few years and which are beefing up their staff and content roll-out plans for Africa.

MultiChoice of course upped Busola Tejumola as head of content and West Africa to replace Wangi Mba-Uzoukwa but never explained her "disappearance".

Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu got the job as head of Nigerian originals that Amazon advertised in April 2022. At the time, Amazon Studios said that it was looking for execs and someone in the position as head of Nigerian originals who has "a deep knowledge of the Nigerian production landscape, including talent". 

Another MultiChoice top exec, Gideon Khobane just left MultiChoice in South Africa as well after several years, and is also joining Amazon.

Amazon Prime Video does first Nigerian original commissions for Gangs of Lagos and LOL: Last One Laughing Naija, enables payment in local naira currency.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon Prime Video on Friday announced that the global streaming service has commissioned its first Nigerian original film, Gangs of Lagos as well as a local series version of LOL: Last One Laughing Naija, whilst enabling Nigerians to now pay in the local Naija currency for the service.

Gangs of Lagos as a film will be released on Amazon Prime Video later this year and LOL: Last One Laughing Naija as a series will be released on Amazon Prime Video in 2023.

Amazon Prime Video Nigeria describes Gangs of Lagos as a "high-stakes, gritty, and hard-hitting action crime-thriller, with an authentic storyline centred on a group of friends who each have to navigate destiny, growing up on the bustling streets and neighbourhood of Isale Eko, Lagos".

Amazon says Gangs of Lagos will "feature elaborate set pieces, action scenes, and engaging dialogue, balanced out by its high-octane pace and an emotionally grounded story at its core".

Gangs of Lagos stars Tobi Bakre, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, and Chiké, is directed and produced by Jade Osiberu, produced by Kemi Lala Akindoju and co-produced by Akin Omotoso also producing original content for Netflix Africa.

LOL: Last One Laughing Naija is an unscripted series, where a group of comedians compete to be the "last one laughing".

The show has Basketmouth as presenter, who will pit 10 famous Nigerian comedians against one another to see who will ultimately win by trying to make their opponents laugh and lose.

LOL: Last One Laughing Naija is filmed and produced in Nigeria, and produced by Livespot360. It follows the success of the Amazon Prime Video global format already launched in Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, India, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and will launch in 2023.

The unscripted series will showcase authentic Nigerian comedy from top Nigerian comedic talent, and will launch next year on Amazon Prime Video worldwide.

Both local productions build on recent film deals made by Amazon Prime Video, including an exclusive commissioning slate deal with Nemsia Films for three feature films, beginning with Breath of Life, launching next year. 

Other exclusive licencing agreements include deals with Nigerian production studios Inkblot Studios as well as Anthill Studios, bringing Amazon Prime Video customers exclusive access to their movies after theatrical release, such as King of Thieves, Superstar, Progressive Tailors Club, Bad Comments, and Badamasi, which are currently available to watch.

"We're delighted to be increasing our investment in Amazon Prime Video for customers in Nigeria, making it a truly localised experience," says Josh McIvor, director of international expansion at Amazon Prime Video, in a statement released on Friday.

"From local payment and a full-scale local marketing campaign, to more local content specifically for Nigerian customers, our investment in Nigeria is a significant step towards our broader expansion plans in Africa and our ambition to be the most local of global streaming services."

Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, head of Nigerian Originals at Amazon Prime Video and who joinedAmazon recently after jumping unannounced from MultiChoice Africa as yet another high-profile top executive exit from the pan-African satellite pay-TV service, says in the statement that "We know our customers want to see locally relevant faces, places, and stories alongside our global content on Prime Video, so we're excited to be bringing Nigerian customers these brand-new Local Amazon Originals, Gangs of Lagos and LOL: Last One Laughing Naija, which will complement our growing selection of Nollywood and African series and movies".

"The news signals our continued commitment to the Nigerian TV and film industry, bringing the very best of authentic, homegrown stories to not only our customers in Nigeria, but also Amazon Prime Video members around the world."

Top Gun: Maverick lifts South Africa's box office up where it belongs as 35+ moviegoers return.

by Thinus Ferreira

Top Gun: Maverick, the Tom Cruise-led film sequel to 1986's Top Gun, has helped to lift the slumped South African box office back up where it belongs, to paraphrase the title of one of the Hans Zimmer songs in the movie - with the film's big nostalgia factor helping to lure back especially older South cinemagoers who've stayed away because of Covid.

South African exhibitors like Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro are once again smiling, as the 35+ cinema crowd are venturing back into malls and cinemas to watch Top Gun: Maverick - pulled by the nostalgia factor of seeing Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer again as they did decades ago as kids.

"The performance of Top Gun: Maverick has been astounding and it certainly has given cinema a huge boost," Stefan Rheeder, United International Pictures (UIP) marketing manager, tells TVwithThinus.

"It feels as if ticketing is ticking over once more, but also that older audiences – when looking at Top: Gun Maverick and even Elvis – are frequenting cinema houses again and it shows a real sign of confidence for this out-of-home entertainment experience."

Stefan Rheeder says Top Gun: Maverick initially started playing towards "older, nostalgic audiences, but with a strong box office performance, we can now undoubtedly say that it has broken out to younger demographics too".

"For exhibitors, this must be music to their ears and they definitely want and need big tentpole titles to keep the experience front of mind, but also the business ticking over."

Next UIP will be releasing Beast on 12 August in South Africa, which Rheeder says proudly boasts a number of South African elements.

"Idris Elba stars in this pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator."

"Co-starring in the film alongside Elba is South African actor, Sharlto Copley together with Iyana Halley and Leah Sava Jeffries. The film was shot entirely in South Africa and locations included Cape Town, Limpopo and Northern Province."

The final showdown was filmed in the Northern Cape, on the Namibia border.

Then UIP is also bringing Puss in Boots: The Last Wish to South African cinemas lined up for the country's summer holiday in December when the leche-loving, swashbuckling and fear-defying feline returns to the big screen.

"For the first time in more than a decade, DreamWorks Animation presents a new adventure in the Shrek universe, as daring outlaw Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll," Stefan Rheeder says.

"Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish features an all-star comedic cast that includes Academy Award nominee Antonio Banderas who returns as the voice of the notorious Puss in Boots."  

eMedia to enter South Africa's pay-TV market in 2023 competing against MultiChoice and StarTimes, will roll out new Openview decoder, Android box and build VFX studio.

by Thinus Ferreira

Sixteen years after it was awarded a licence in mid-2007 to start a subscription television service, eMedia finally plans to enter South Africa's pay-TV market in 2023 where it will more directly compete against MultiChoice and China's StarTimes operating as StarSat.

Besides competing with MultiChoice in the pay-TV market from 2023, eMedia plans to roll out a new, "smarter" Openview decoder, a new Android box, and to construct a new state-of-the-art visual special effects studio at its Hyde Park precinct in Johannesburg.

In its just-released integrated annual report for 2022, eMedia Holdings CEO Khalik Sherrif  reveals that the group has plans to finally enter the country's lucrative pay-TV space.

eMedia Holdings already runs South Africa's sole free-to-air commercial TV channel, the TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) on pay-TV, the streaming service eVOD, the free-to-air satellite service Openview and owns support and production spaces like Sasani Studios, Cape Town Film Studios, Moonlighting Films and Media Film Service.

"The 2023 year will also see the group enter the pay television market," Khalik Sherrif notes on page 11 of the report. 

In response to a media query asking about its pay-TV plans and what it would entail, eMedia told TVwithThinus on Monday morning that "eMedia definitely has plans to venture into the pay-TV space".

"It's still early stages so we cannot say too much yet for competitive reasons. As soon as we are closer and in a position to share detail we will," a spokesperson said.

In 2007, eMedia under the header e.Sat was one of the successful applicants of a pay-TV licence from the South African broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

eMedia however decided against launching its own satellite pay-TV service, opting to become a TV channel supplier to existing pay-TV services instead, fearing that it would be too difficult and financially draining to launch its own pay-TV service given that Icasa handed out multiple other pay-TV service licences.

eMedia has been supplying pay-TV channels like eNCA to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service since 2008, while it signed channel carriage agreements for various permutations of its other channels with MultiChoice and StarTimes over the past couple of years.

With the longtime frosty relation between Hyde Park and Randburg that further sourced this year when MultiChoice decided to drop and end the channels carriage agreement for a litany of TV channels on DStv - a case that ended up before South Africa's Competition Tribunal - eMedia is now clearly adamant to pursue a strategy of creating and funnelling it own pay-TV content directly to consumers.

eMedia already launched its own over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service, eVOD , in August 2021 as well as its eOriginals production banner, while its Openview satellite service continues to grow.

The TV channels like eExtra, eMovies Extra and eReality (rebranded as eXposed) - while they were available on MultiChoice's DStv and Openview simultaneously - have been ranking in the top 15-list of all satellite TV-channels available in South Africa regarding audience share, likely providing incentive for eMedia's plan to make a bigger push into pay-TV.

With eVOD already competing for consumer screentime, advertising income and subscriber numbers and revenue against the likes of MultiChoice's streamer Showmax and StarTimes's StarTimes ON, eMedia's plan to enter the pay television market will move eMedia into the crosshairs of these existing local players.

With the free-to-air Openview division already representing 21.9% of the group's advertising revenue, amounting to R468.1 million for the past financial year, and with eVOD that racked up 461 611 subscribers in less than a year, it's understandable that eMedia wants to see if it can derive more revenue from pay-TV content as well.  

2023: Smarter Openview STB, new Android box, VFX studio
Openview is close to reaching the 3 million mark for activated households across Southern African countries (2 774 454 activations by the end of March this year), while eMedia signed a channel carriage extension with MultiChoice to keep eNCA as a DStv exclusive news channel for another 5 years.

The group plans to invest another R100 million in local, original content development spend in eOriginals for eVOD and, with Openview that plans to launch another TV channel to its existing bouquet in October this year.

In the 2023 financial year eMedia also plans to launch "a new smarter set-top box which which include built-in Wi-Fi and the capability for the group to be innovative with advertising revenue," Khalik Sherrif says in the annual report.

eMedia is also working on "a new Android box which will hopefully hit the market in the second half of the 2023 calendar year".

eMedia will also start construction of a new state-of-the-art visual special effects studio at its Hyde Park precinct in Johannesburg.

"This will further enhance the already premium local content to a level that will compete with international players," the group says.

"The group is forging ahead with numerous technology advances and strategic planning to continue to be the audience share market leader. The investment in Openview provides the group with the strategic flexibility and is the plan to address the challenges of the transition that digital migration brings with it."

TV ratings for Survivor South Africa Return of the Outcasts plummet 43% after M-Net's earlier and daily timeslot move.

by Thinus Ferreira

The viewership of Survivor South Africa has plummeted, losing 43% of its total viewers with the debut of the latest 9th season, entitled Survivor South Africa: Return of the Outcasts, after M-Net shunted the show to a much earlier timeslot and stacked the schedule with daily episodes making it more difficult for viewers to keep up.

DStv subscribers didn't return for Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts, produced by Afrokaans for M-Net (DStv 101), with the debut episode of the latest season - again filmed earlier this year in the Eastern Cape - shedding close to half of the audience who still watched and followed the previous season.

Only 43 306 viewers tuned in for the start of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts linear broadcast on 18 July in M-Net's 18:00 timeslot on DStv channel 101, compared to 75 770 DStv subscribers who watched the start of the previous season, according to viewership data compiled and provided by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA). 

That's a loss of 42.8% in viewers for Survivor SA and M-Net this year, compared to the beginning of June a year ago.

Whereas the 8th season had one weekly episode screened at 19:30 in primetime on M-Net with a social media hashtag that trended for hours into the night, audience engagement for the new 9th season with episodes now earlier and daily at 18:00, appears ephemeral with much less social media buzz and a lot fewer DStv subscribers sticking around to watch.

Following its much lower debut in the ratings, subsequent Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts episodes all slumped even further in the TV ratings race, with M-Net stacking four episodes per week in the 18:00-timeslot.

The earlier timeslot, as well as multiple weekly episodes for a show where viewers like to discuss the players' strategy and decisions for days on end, have made it difficult for DStv subscribers to keep up, or for viewers to return who have missed an episode due to Eskom electricy blackouts or family responsibilities and haven't yet watched a particular to see who got voted out before another one arrives.

The instant digital piracy of pristine, high-definition episodes, made available online as direct downloads and as torrents which popped up on the internet this season faster than ever before, is very likely also taking a bite out of M-Net and the show's linear TV ratings.

Nadine Moonsamy, M-Net publicity manager, in response to a media query about the Survivor SA ratings loss, told TVwithThinus that the 18:00-timeslot "affects absolute viewer numbers and our DStv Catch up service augments our viewer numbers, both of which are taken into consideration when scheduling".

M-Net didn't respond to questions as to why the Survivor SA frequency of episodes per week was changed or whether the show's much lower ratings will have an impact on whether the local version of the Banijay reality competition format is renewed for a next 10th season.

It's with Them: This is Us jumps from M-Net to Disney+ as streaming steals from DStv.

by Thinus Ferreira

DStv subscribers who started watching the American drama series This is Us on M-Net will now have to switch to Disney+ to see how it ends, with the series that is jumping to Disney's streamer as more shows on South African television continue to switch from traditional pay-TV to streaming.

Viewers wondering when the 6th and final season of This is Us, which started earlier this year on NBC in the United States, was going to make its way to M-Net (DStv 101) might be disillusioned to hear that they will now have to subscribe to Disney's video streaming service to see the conclusion of the story of the Pearson siblings.

M-Net told TVwithThinus in response to a media query that This is Us will no longer be on the channel that it acquired and started to show from the first season in May 2017.

"M-Net has not licensed This is Us season 6. This means that it will not air on M-Net," the channel said.

The 6th season of This is Us wraps up the storyline of the 20th Television distributed drama series that made viewers cry about the family drama of Randall (Sterling K. Brown),  Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley), as well as their parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebeca (Mandy Moore) as told through time-jumps and backflashes to fill in the family's history.

Disney South Africa told TVwithThinus that it will now carry the complete This is Us box set, including the latest and final 6th season.

"All 6 seasons of This Is Us will be available on Disney+ from 14 September."

The next TV series likely also leaving M-Net and also jumping to Disney+, although not yet confirmed, is the science fiction series The Orville of which the new third season is now on the Hulu video streaming service in the United States.

The entire series including the new season is now on Disney+ in America and the United Kingdom since 10 August.

"With regards to The Orville, seasons 1 and 2 are currently available to stream now on Disney+ and we will let you know when season 3 will be available," Disney says.

This is Us and The Orville are just the latest examples of shows jumping from their original broadcast TV home in South Africa to streaming platforms. 

In the new trend, shows like The Walking Dead are moving from traditional pay-TV - for instance from MultiChoice's DStv and StarTimes' StarSat - to video streaming. 

It's very similar to how American shows that were once on free-to-air TV channels like the SABC and, started to jump to DStv in the previous two decades as pay-TV became dominant and needed content volume to fill linear pay-TV channel's schedules. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The SABC's shocking TV ratings slide in numbers: 'The world of broadcast TV is rapidly changing'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Like a once deep lake slowly getting drained while the entire ecosystem which depended on it becomes unstable, shrinks and disappears, the South African public broadcaster's constantly eroding TV ratings and ongoing audience loss is a massive cause for concern for the entire local television and advertising industry and a growing existential crisis for the troubled SABC which seems unable to stop the viewership bleed.

An analysis of SABC TV ratings over the past year shows how the South African public broadcaster continues to lose millions of viewers, with its SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 TV channels experiencing ongoing and hugely troubling linear TV ratings losses.

The disappearing SABC TV audiences have a massive negative impact on the broadcaster's income, with the SABC forced to charge less and less in advertising rates for TV commercials when fewer eyeballs are watching.

While the troubled SABC3 has been in a ratings black hole for more than the past decade, the disturbing South African TV ratings picture reveals that even SABC2 now looks like the SABC3 of five years ago. 

Back in September 2017, SABC3 still managed 1.87 million viewers for its most-watched content for the month, and 430 621 viewers for its 20th highest-rated show. 

Cue SABC2's ratings in June 2022 with 1.88 million viewers at most and 399 844 for its 20th highest-rated show and it's evident how SABC2's ratings picture is now like SABC3 when that sister channel was already in big trouble.

Meanwhile, SABC3 itself looks to be virtually on life-support now as a TV channel, with just over 700 000 viewers nationally at most in June.

TVwithThinus looked at the ratings of the past year - from June 2021 to June 2022 - for the SABC's three big terrestrial TV channels. For the exercise, the TV rating of the highest-rated programming on each channel, as well as the 20th highest-rated show on each channel were taken over the past 12 months.

Take a look at the steady and shocking decline of the SABC's TV viewership and ratings over just the past year.

SABC1 top-rated show
June 2021:            8 024 208
July 2021:             7 776 154 
August 2021:        7 648 487
September 2021: 6 879 581
October 2021:      7 099 635
November 2021: 6 990 052
December 2021: 6 855 580
January 2022:    6 995 444 
February 2022:  6 677 494
March 2022:      7 020 908
April 2022:          6 471 686
May 2022:           5 783 736
June 2022:           6 103 846

SABC1 20th rated show:
June 2021:            2 118 704
July 2021:             2 357 043
August 2021:        2 262 219
September 2021:  1 937 322
October 2021:      1 745 856
November 2021:  1 558 864
December 2021:   1 465 153
January 2022:       1 419 480
February 2022:     1 417 425
March 2022:         1 560 967
April 2022:           1 547 113
May 2022:            1 558  562
June 2022:            1 653 227

SABC2 top-rated show:
June 2021:             4 734 276
July 2021:              5 840 203
August 2021:         4 166 031
September 2021:    3 696 060
October 2021:         3 643 585
November 2021:     3 553 242
December 2021:     3 672 139
January 2022:         3 952 923
February 2022:       3 300  031
March 2022:           3 309 806
April 2022:             3 285 619
May 2022:              2 408 898
June 2022:              1 885 401

SABC2 20th rated show:
June 2021:              562 390
July 2021:               716 496
August 2021:          533 571
September 2021:    511 761
October 2021:         437 448
November 2021:     561 974
December 2021:     495 536
January 2022:         491 980
February 2022:       440 633
March 2022:           379 094
April 2022:             456 635
May 2022:              400 620
June 2022:              399 844

SABC3 top-rated show:
June 2021:             731 009
July 2021:              769 858
August 2021:         733 963
September 2021:    1 031 635
October 2021:        968 107
November 2021:    597 534
December 2021:    491 171
January 2022:        652 702
February 2022:      490 709
March 2022:          576 562
April 2022:            793 301
May 2022:             518 197
June 2022:             596 374

SABC3 20th rated show:
June 2021:               277 417
July 2021:                327 316
August 2021:           292 736
September 2021:      291 793
October 2021:          267 159
November 2021:      251 032
December 2021:       245 209
January 2022:          312 382
February 2022:        229 714
March 2022:            317 634
April 2022:              314 518  
May 2022:               249 813
June 2022:               229 175

About the slide in the SABC ratings, Chris Botha, Park Advertising group managing director, tells TVwithThinus that falling linear TV ratings is not unique to the South African public broadcaster, but that what's happening with TV audiences is worse in South Africa.

"Firstly, let's be clear: Linear television ratings across the world are dropping. So it's not an 'SABC thing' or even a 'South African thing' – it is a problem the world over. Now in South Africa, the picture is worse than the rest of the world for a number of reasons."

"It's not just one thing – it is actually a confluence of circumstances. Firstly, this is South Africa's worst ever year for Eskom load shedding. The numbers clearly show that load shedding has an enormous impact on TV viewership."

"Secondly, there is the government rollout of the DTT project. As transmitters are being switched off in certain provinces we have noted that this has resulted in drops in audience."

"Thirdly, the competition is only increasing. The amount of streaming providers popping up is scary. Netflix, Disney+, TelkomOne, BritBox, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Google Play and VIU, just to name a few, are all eating away at what used to be a strong and healthy audience," Chris Botha says.

"Then there are also issues with the TAMS (Television Audience Measurement Survey) panel balance that is being addressed at the moment."

Competition will only increase
Chris Botha says South Africa's linear TV audience erosion is a big concern for the entire industry.

"The Advertising Media Forum (AMF) has engaged with the BRCSA (Broadcast Research Council of South Africa) to address the drop in TV ratings - not only for the SABC but for TV broadcasts as a whole," he says.

"Our clients are investing millions of rands to reach consumers, and when the investment delivers a subpar return, everyone gets twitchy."

"As an industry we do well when the SABC does well. They remain South Africa's biggest media owner, so we are actively working with them as best we can to try and mitigate the circumstances."

"However, things like load shedding is completely and entirely out of our control, so we have to make due with what we have."

Chris Botha says "the world of broadcast television is rapidly changing".

"The consumer will never have fewer choices than what they have right now. The competition is only increasing. Loadshedding might go away. DTT will eventually settle audiences down. The TAMS panel will be balanced. But competition is here to stay."

"The SABC and other terrestrial broadcasters need to make a plan to compete with the OTT suppliers like Netflix, MultiChoice's Showmax and Amazon Prime Video - otherwise the slide in audience and revenue will only continue." 

Trying to stem losses
Since early July, TVwithThinus asked the SABC repeatedly for comment on various questions pertaining to the SABC's falling TV ratings for SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

The SABC was asked whether its audience erosion is a concern, what the broadcaster is making about Eskom's electricity blackouts,'s ratings rise since viewers without analogue access are sitting over which hasn't switched off its analogue signals, what the SABC's plan and strategy is for ratings stabilisation and what the impact of payback and make-good ads are when the SABC is unable to deliver promised ratings during which ad spots were sold. 

Ndindi Cola, SABC spokesperson, declined to answer any of the specific questions and told TVwithThinus in a general statement that "The SABC has a mitigation plan in place to improve its audience and market share, however the internal strategies cannot be shared in the public domain, but the public will see the results in the future industry ratings".

Nigeria fines MultiChoice, StarTimes and TStv over R200 000 for airing BBC Africa Eye investigative documentary on Nigerian gangs.

by Thinus Ferreira

Nigeria has fined MultiChoice's DStv, China's StarTimes and TelCom's TSTV over R200 000 each for broadcasting the insightful "Bandit warlords of Zamfara" documentary as part of the BBC's BBC Africa Eye investigative news programme.

In a statement from Nigeria's National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), it announced that it has "imposed a N5 million (R201 467) sanction, each" on MultiChoice Nigeria, StarTimes Nigeria and TelCom Satellite Ltd., claiming that the BBC Africa Eye episode "glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security in Nigeria".

Another Nigerian TV channel, Trust TV, was also fined the same amount for its own news documentary about the same topic entitled "Nigeria's banditry - The Inside Story".

BBC Africa Eye as an investigative TV news programme is broadcast on the BBC's BBC World News channel carried on various satellite pay-TV services throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and is shown on various terrestrial TV channels across African nations as part of syndicated BBC News content deals.  

It's not yet clear whether MultiChoice Nigeria, StarTimes Nigeria, TelCom or Trust TV will appeal the fines for broadcasting the deeply sourced and fact-filled documentaries bringing viewers first-hand accounts and footage of the criminal gangs in northeast Nigeria who are raiding villages, attacking drivers, abducting schoolchildren and killing people.

The hourlong BBC Africa Eye documentary with reporter Yusuf Anka and produced and directed by Kai Lawrence and Daniel Adamson, with Tom Watson as BBC Africa Eye editor and Marc Perkins as head of investigations, has already been watched over a million times on YouTube.

In "Bandit warlords of Zamfara", as told through the eyes of a Nigerian law student living in Zamfara and who has first-hand experience of the crime and violence perpetrated by the gangs, the BBC documentary shows the bodies of those killed - including children - and includes interviews with gang leaders as well as victims.

The NBC, in its statement about the imposed fines for credible news reporting content, claims that "While appreciating the need of educating, informing and enlightening the public on issues bordering on developments and happenings within and outside of the country, the commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of content deleterious to Nigeria's national security".

According to the NBC, the BBC Africa Eye documentary contravened regulations that states "no broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime" and that broadcasters must "ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a manner depicting that law and order are socially superior to, or more desirable than crime or anarchy".

The pay-TV operators have to pay the fines before 30 August with the NBC warning them "to desist from falling into antics of using their platforms to promote and glamourise subversive elements and their activities".