Thursday, November 24, 2022

Video streaming service Acorn TV shutting down in South Africa after 4 years without explanation, asks users to cancel their subscriptions.

by Thinus Ferreira

Acorn TV is shutting down in South Africa four years after it became available in the country, as the next video streaming service going dark in South Africa's fiercely contested streaming wars.

Acorn TV, a global video streamer that launched in South Africa in December 2018 and 29 other countries after its launch in 2011 in America and Canada, is now shuttering without explanation, and offered a library carousel of British and international TV series, as well as some new original shows.

When it launched in South Africa, Acorn TV said that it was "excited for global fans of British and international drama and mystery to discover the wonders of Acorn TV with addictive series featuring stellar acting, beautiful settings, and gripping storylines" and that it would offer "a wide assortment of first-rate British and international television".

Acorn TV, owned by AMC Networks' RJL Entertainment, was competition for BritBox SA, jointly run by the BBC and ITV, that launched in South Africa in August 2021 also offering British on-demand television content, as well as for the linear British pay-TV channels available in South Africa like BBC Brit, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News supplied by BBC Studios Africa to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

Acorn TV that billed South African subscribers in rand and has a subscription price of R79 per month and an annual plan of R799 per rand, is now warning South African subscribers in a message on its website that "Acorn TV will no longer be available in South Africa" and that users should cancel their subscriptions.

"We regret to inform you that Acorn TV will shut down in South Africa by the end of 2022. If you signed up online, please cancel your subscription by going to My Acorn TV and then Manage Account", the streamer says.

Executives of AMC Networks didn't respond with answers to a media query made earlier this week seeking comment about why Acorn TV is shutting down in South Africa, its subscriber count over the past four years and what the experience of operating in the country has been like.

The shuttering of Acorn TV comes a week after Telkom got out of the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) business by handing its TelkomONE streamer over to the South African public broadcaster which was rebranded and repurposed as SABC+.

Acorn TV's demise in South Africa leaves TV viewers with video streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, eMedia's eVOD, MultiChoice's Showmax, BritBox SA, VIU, SABC+, TruthTV, WOW Presents Plus, MarqueeTV and Jou Afrikaans (JA).


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

SABC3 showing Hail Satan? as 2-episode documentary about America's Satanic Temple.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC3 has acquired and will show Hail Satan? as a 2-episode documentary on Wednesday 23 November and Wednesday 30 November at 22:00, looking at the rise of this controversial religion in America and the Satanic Temple.

Hail Satan? is a 2019 film from director Penny Lane and producer Gabriel Sedgwick about the Satanic Temple, including its origins and political activism and shows the work of American Satanists.

The documentary had its premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

According to SABC3, "When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organise a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with a little more than a clever idea, mischievous sense of humour and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways".

SABC3 says that Hail Satan? "offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world".

Casts of Mzansi Magic's Becoming and SABC1's The Queens of Mzansi canned without warning or being told.

by Thinus Ferreira

The casts of the transgender reality series Becoming on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and reality show The Queens of Mzansi on SABC1 have reportedly been dumped and replaced without them being told by the productions they appear in.

City Press reports that the cast of Becoming, produced by Connect TV's Basetsana Kumalo and Kopano Gelman, had no idea and got no warning that they were being jettisoned and are getting replaced. 

Becoming featured Yaya Mavundla, Gugu Kumalo and Ramazon Ngobese, with two of them who heard the news when the newspaper told them.

Kopano Gelman declined to comment and directed media queries to Mzansi Magic. Mzansi Magic publicist Irvin Pooe asked that questions be emailed to him but didn't respond by the time the City Press report was published.

Meanwhile SABC1 has allegedly decided to can the broadcast of reality show The Queens of Mzansi, after only broadcasting 10 of the 26 episodes which were filmed, although the SABC says it only bought 10 episodes.

The Queens of Mzansi had Paloma "Lolo" Mlunjwana, former Miss SA Teen Lucky Mthembu, Siphelele Petunia Makhaya, Ntombifuthi Mthembu, and Samkelisiwe Mhlongo in the cast.

Cast members told Zimoja the problems with The Queens of Mzansi started in October after they complained about not being paid on time. 

"Our problems began in October when we raised issues with payment. We were not paid on time and when we complained about our payments we became bad people. They were supposed to inform us that they are cancelling than having to just dump us just like that," one of the cast reportedly said.

The SABC in a statement said that The Queens of Mzansi was only commissioned for 10 episodes.

"The SABC can confirm that Kinsman Redeemer Productions was contracted for the licence of 10 episodes of The Queens of Mzansi. The SABC is not in anyway involved in the talent acquisition process of licensed programmes."

"The SABC can further confirm that all 10 episodes of The Queens of Mzansi were broadcast and the contract therefore reached its full term."

Uzalo actors Nompilo Maphumulo and Menzi Biyela to exit SABC1 soap with season 9's debut in 2023.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actors Menzi Biyela and Nompilo Maphumulo, known for their characters of Pastor Gwala and Nosipho have been let go by Stained Glass TV and their characters will exit Uzalo with the debut of the ninth season of the SABC1 soap in early 2023.

The Stained Glass TV production and SABC1 say the actors have been let go from the series and that their characters will exit the soap when season 9 starts next year. 

"We want to take our hats off to the stellar performances of Nompilo and Menzi over the years," says Thuli Nhlapo, SABC1 acting channel head. "Their portrayal of the characters, Nosipho and Pastor Gwala, will forever be embedded in the hearts and minds of our viewers."

King David Mukwevho, Uzalo series producer, says "We are incredibly honoured to have worked with such talents".

"Nompilo has been an integral part of Uzalo since season one, she has brought us a remarkable rendition of Nosipho that the fans will never forget, and Menzi's portrayal of Pastor Gwala has been nothing short of exemplary. Our viewers love them, and so do we. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours."

Filming starts on Afrikaans romcom film adaptation of Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak set to debut at kykNET's 2023 Silwerskerm Film Festival.

by Thinus Ferreira

Filming has started on the Afrikaans romcom adaptation of the novel Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak, shooting in South Africa's West Coast.

Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak will have its debut at kykNET's 2023 Silwerskerm Film Festival in Cape Town next year, and will then be available on MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice service.

Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak, filming on location in Cape Town, Velddrif, Laaiplek and St. Helena Bay, stars Carla Smith as Pamina and Christiaan Schoombie as rock star Wolf de Jager. 

The cast also includes Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Lee-Ann van Rooi, Albert Pretorius, Duane Williams, Hélène Truter, Rolanda Marais, André Roothman and Armand Aucamp.

The story, a film adaptation of the 2018 novel by Annie Klopper, revolves around an out-of-work journalist and a rock star, licking his wounds after his fiancé cheated on him.

Wolf de Jager is in the West Coast town of Witwaterbaai – a place Pamina swore never to return to after a disastrous event 11 years ago. Wolf is hiding there after he found out his fiancé, the actress Daniella du Toit, is cheating on him. 

Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak has Kabous Meiring as director, with Go2 Content producing in collaboration with The Film Factory. The production team is headed by Kabous Meiring, Jaco Nothnagel and Danie Bester.

Elanie Rupping wrote the first draft of the script which was then further developed by Bibi Slippers, Kabous, Jaco, Danie, Tina Kruger and Annie Klopper.

"I think every person's contribution, big or small, made this script unique and very honest," says Jaco Nothnagel. "To hear the words come out of the mouths of the actors, and with Kabous in her element as director, is the cherry on the cake."

"We are keeping our fingers crossed that the wind won't blow us into the sea, and we're buying suntan lotion in bulk, but we fell in love with the charm of these towns and the breath-taking sunsets," he says.

"This is the third production Go2 Content is shooting outside Cape Town, and, once again, I was touched by the support and hospitality of the local communities."

MultiChoice and kykNET will bring the Afrikaans film pop-up channel fliekNET to DStv from 16 December for a month.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and kykNET are bringing the Afrikaans film pop-up channel fliekNET to DStv from 16 December, for a month, with the channel that will be available to DStv Premium subscribers on DStv channel 149.

Earlier this year MultiChoice and kykNET decided that running fliekNET - which started out as a DStv pop-up channel - as a permanent DStv channel was unsustainable, and changed it back to being a film pop-up channel.

fliekNET was originally launched as a holiday film DStv pop-up channel in 2014, that would "pop up" in years after that as a kykNET channel brand extension, before it morphed into a permanent DStv addition in mid-2020.

Now fliekNET will be a DStv pop-up channel again, this year from 16 December 2022 until 15 January 2023 for DStv Premium subscribers.

Some of the feature films on the fliekNET schedule include recent hits like Barakat, Toorbos, Kaalgat Karel and Klein Karoo and Klein Karoo II

kykNET's series of hour-long made-for-TV movies known as Storiefilms is also part of the schedule with titles like Magda Louw, Die lang, langnaweek and Dija wil ’n baby hê, as well as classic Afrikaans films like Boetie gaan border toe, Tant Ralie se losieshuis, Lokval in Venesië and Lord Oom Piet.

Short films that were made as part of kykNET's Silwerskerm film festival are also part of the schedule, including documentary series like Impressario, Oppi Kassie and Daar Doer in die Fliek about the history of the film and TV industry in South Africa.

SABC2 gives third and final season to Xitsonga telenovela Giyani from Tshedza Pictures.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC2 has commissioned a third and final season of the Xitsonga telenovela Giyani: Land of Blood produced by Tshedza Pictures which will introduce a new family to the cast.

While the first two seasons revolved around themes of land ownership and who the rightful owners are amidst the squabbles of two warring families and a forbidden love story, the third season of Giyani will "embark on the show's final odyssey" according to SABC2.

The third season will bring viewers into "a world that has expanded and changed – the banana plantation has been replaced by the game lodge, which Manoko continues to pillage, while the villagers remain marginalised and living in poverty on their supposed own land".

The third season of Giyani will introduce the Khoza family with Lesley Musina joining the cast as Solani Khoza, a successful lawyer, and the patriarch of the Khoza family. 

Lesley's wife Pele (Bokang Phelane) is an ex-promo-girl turn club manager, while Gigi Ndlovu joins in the role of Dzovo, Solani's son. 

Dzovo is Khensani's new love interest and business partner. Mambeku (Nsuku Baloyi) is the matriarch of the Khoza family. Mixo (Nkateko Mabunda) and Zuri are the two daughters.  Mudau will now be played by Mahlatsi Mokoena.  

"SABC2 is elated to see the return of this layered offering. In an effort of diversifying our drama slate, Giyani remains a strong property on our platforms," says Jacqui Hlongwane, SABC2 head of programming.

"In keeping with our family entertainment proposition, our viewers are immersed in the intriguing storyline that outlines themes which our audiences can identify with."

Trevor Noah explains the how and why of his Daily Show exit: Didn't want to stay until people said they're glad 'that dick is out of the building'.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African stand-up comedian Trevor Noah (38) who will be back in the country in December after stepping away from his 7-year run as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central is explaining his shocking decision in his own words for the first time, saying he didn't want to wait until people got tired of him and said something like they're glad "that dick is out of the building".

In a new cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, it becomes clear that Trevor Noah told nobody that he was going to announce his exit from The Daily Show desk on 29 September this year to gasps from the in-studio audience.

Jen Flanz, The Daily Show showrunner was sitting at the producers' desk when Trevor Noah made his shocking announcement. She turned to Zhubin Parang, supervising producer and show writer and said: "What is he doing?" She asked: "Did you know?" with Zhubin Parang who replied with, "Does it look like I knew?".

In the interview, Trevor Noah explains that "Part of the reason I did it that way is because I didn't want anybody to be the person who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else".

The final episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be on Comedy Central (DStv 122) on 8 December.

In the article, Trevor Noah mentions that he is selling his New York apartment which is currently on the market for $12.95 million and that he doesn't know if he will buy another property again in New York. 

He explains that his decision to leave was motivated by a feeling of exiting while people still want you and like you: "I'd rather people be sad than people be happy, like 'Good riddance, that dick is out of the building".

Trevor Noah says "I wish someone had told me what a grind it was. You're also running the show, so everything from HR to designing the set, you're a part of, and it doesn't stop when you leave the building. There's no moment when breaking news happens where I go, 'Oh, wow, I don't care.' No, I have to care; being informed is part of my job".

Disney's new Strange World animation film kept away from Africa's homophobic countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda over gay content.

by Thinus Ferreira

In another keep-the-gay-away, The Walt Disney Company won't be distributing its new animation film Strange World in West Africa's homophobic Nigeria or Ghana or East Africa's homophobic countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda where these countries will likely impose censorship and edits on the Want Disney Animation Studios film, or ban it outright.

In Strange World the character of Ethan, voiced by Jaboukie Young-White has a romantic crush on another boy.

The Walt Disney Company is now keeping Strange World away from 20 countries and markets, including homophobic African countries like Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, as well as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa. Strange World is being released in South Africa.

Other countries where Disney isn't distributing Strange World include the entire Middle East region, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, the Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh and Russia.

The Walt Disney Company in a statement about keeping Strange World away from certain countries, says "In countries where we operate, we seek to share our stories in their original form as we and the artists involved have created them".

"If we make edits, because of legal or other considerations, they will be as narrow as possible. We will not make an edit where we believe it would impact the storytelling. In that circumstance, we will not distribute the content in that market."

Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni now wants CEO Madoda Mxakwe to be accounting authority of boardless SABC, says broadcaster isn't affected without directors.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni now wants SABC CEO Madoda to be the struggling public broadcaster's accounting authority since there's no board of directors who are legally required to fulfil this role, and says the SABC isn't negatively affected by not having a board of directors.

The plan comes after South Africa's failed to appoint a new SABC board after the previous board's term expired on 15 October 2022.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South Africa's minister of communications and digital technologies, in a written response to a question from the EFF political party's MP Vuyani Pambo, noted that the department has now asked the country's National Treasury for the SABC CEO to be made the broadcaster's accounting authority and that the SABC is allegedly not negatively affected by the lack of a board of directors.

Vuyani Pambo wanted to know what the impact is of the month-long and accounting delay of parliament's portfolio committee on communications to select candidates from a shortlist to be rubberstamped by president Cyril Ramaphosa as the new SABC board.

The last SABC board's term ended on 15 October with the broadcaster rudderless since then with no board of directors. Previously an illegal plan was hacked to try and stock the SABC board with "temporary SABC board members".

The portfolio committee on communications which started too late with the process blames South Africa State Security Agency (SSA) for taking too long to do security vetting and background checks of the shortlisted candidates.

The SSA in turn blames the South African police, saying there is an issue with the police's fingerprint system.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni in her written reply said that the SABC being without a board was not impacted negatively by anything and that the SABC isn't run by its board of directors.

"In terms of the SABC's corporate plan, there are no scheduled matters that cannot be processed by the entity without board approval," Khumbudzo Ntshavheni wrote.

She also suggested in her response that if things do come up that need SABC board decisions, that sections of South Africa's Public Finance Management Act could be activated to deal with that.

"The department has since requested the approval of the National Treasury regarding the designation of the CEO as an accounting authority of the SABC," Khumbudzo Ntshavheni noted.

Amidst rapid increase of content piracy in Africa a South African pirate seller of hacked Android TV boxes with DStv gets 7 year jail sentence and ordered to pay R60 000.

by Thinus Ferreira

A Cape Town man, Jordan Lee Mott has been sentenced to 7 years jail time for copyright infringement and other crimes after he was found guilty of illegally selling hacked Android TV boxes enabling pirate viewing of MultiChoice's premium DStv pay-TV content. 

MultiChoice and Irdeto welcomed the conviction of Jordan Lee Mott in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Court. Piracy of content and pirate viewing is a fast-growing problem in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Jordan Lee Mott was arrested in October 2020 for selling hacked Android TV boxes with access to MultiChoice's premium DStv content which is copyright-protected. 

Jordan Lee Mott was charged with 7 counts of contravening Section 45 of the Regulation of Interception of Communication and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act.

Jordan Lee Mott was found guilty on all 7 counts and sentenced to 7 years in jail, which was suspended for a period of 5 years on condition that the accused is not convicted again for contravening Section 45 of Act 70 of 2002.

Jordan Lee Mott was also ordered to pay R60 000 to the Criminal Asset Recovery Account.

MultiChoice in a statement welcomed the conviction and says more needs to be done to combat content piracy.

"Although the decision by the court is welcomed, there is more that needs to be done in terms of minimising the negative impact of piracy on content creation and the economy. It is important that we work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators of piracy face the might of the law."

"As piracy and cybercrime rapidly increase, it is important for us to remain vigilant and agile and ensure that perpetrators of digital crimes are brought to book. The conviction of the accused should be a warning to other perpetrators who are driving this illegal economy."

"Illegally sharing content leads to severe revenue losses and cripple economies, which means reduced investment and job losses affecting economic development," MultiChoice says.

The Randburg-based pay-TV operator is now also working with Partners Against Piracy to combat content piracy in Africa.

Monday, November 21, 2022

SHOCKER. Bob Chapek fired after bad results, Bob Iger back as Disney CEO with 'a bit of amazement' in shocking shakeup.

by Thinus Ferreira

In a shocking move, Bob Chapek is out as The Walt Disney Company CEO, with former CEO Bob Iger returning to replace him after Disney's bad fourth quarter results with losses at its Disney+ video streaming service.

Bob Iger exited as Disney CEO in February 2020 after 15 years and remained Disney chairperson until the end of 2021, with the unpopular and inexperienced Bob Chapek taking over who fired top executives, fought with A-list Hollywood talent, embarrassed Disney with shocking statements and made disastrous management moves that even led to staffer walkouts.

In a stunning move by Disney, Bob Iger is now suddenly back as Disney CEO for another two years, saying in an email to Disney staffers on Sunday night that "I am deeply honoured to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling".

The Disney board, unanimously, following distrust from the industry, increasing revolt from Disney staffers, as well as rumours that Bob Chapek's days are numbered, in June this year voted to renew Bob Chapek's contract with a new 3-year contract that started on July 2022.

The Disney board in a bizarre statement then said that "Bob Chapek is the right leader at the right time for The Walt Disney Company, and the board has full confidence in him and his leadership team".

It's now clear that the Disney board lied, has decided enough is enough after another five months of Bob Chapek's bad leadership and that Bob Chapek had to go.

In a new Sunday night statement, the Disney board chairperson Susan Arnold, now suddenly said in a blunt and shocking statement "We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic".

"The board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period."

"Bob Iger has the deep respect of Disney's senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide - all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership." 

Bob Iger in the statement says "I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the board to return as its CEO".

"Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe - most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration."

Here is Bob Iger's email sent to Disney's 190 000 staffers worldwide on Sunday night:

"Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,

It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility - and, I must admit, a bit of amazement - that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.

When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavours.

I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty - perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty - our employees and Cast Members achieve the impossible.

You will be hearing more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. 

In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the globe thanks to you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every single day.  

Bob Iger"

Friday, November 18, 2022

South Africans can now register their Paramount+ interest.

by Thinus Ferreira  

South African viewers can now register their interest for Paramount+ which says it is "coming soon" to South Africa and that will very likely be the next global video streaming service becoming available in the country sometime next year, although a specific launch date has not yet been announced.

Following the launch of Disney+ in South Africa in May this year, the South African public broadcaster took over Telkom's TelkomONE streamer and rebranded it this week as SABC+ and which were 2022's two over-the-top (OTT) streaming service launches. NBCUniversal added Universal+ as a catch-up service to MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up offering.

Paramount Global's Paramount+ is very likely up next, with Paramount Africa taking a page from Disney's playbook and the Mouse House's launch of Disney+. Disney+ also invited potential South African customers to register their interest before the streamer eventually went live a few months later.

Paramount+ bundles a massive library and new content ranging from Paramount Pictures films, Paramount+ Originals, Nickelodeon, MTV and CBS Studios.

The South African launch of Paramount+, when it happens, will be as a stand-alone app and through connected TV sets, but will very likely also be in partnership with the MultiChoice Group which has existing deals to carry Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ as apps on its DStv Explora Ultra decoder.

Paramount is rolling out Paramount+ globally in what it calls "a hard bundle", meaning that it's tied to the services of traditional pay-TV operators who already carry collections of Paramount's linear pay-TV channels.

South African video consumers already have access to Netflix SA, MultiChoice's video streamer Showmax, eMedia's video streamer eVOD, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, BritBox SA, Acorn TV, VIU, TruthTV, WOW Presents Plus and MarqueeTV. 

NBCUniversal is still mum on the possibility of launching its streaming service Peacock in South Africa, and Warner Bros. Discovery - which still has to reveal a new name for its combined HBO Max and discovery+ streamer - has also not announced any date for when it intends to launch its video streamer in the country.

At South Africans can now register their interest by filling in their email. Paramount will likely then let interested people know, when Paramount+ intends to launch. 

People who had registered their interest for Disney+ got a notification email but also a discount sign-up offer which was only available to them and which made a Disney+ subscription much cheaper.

Natalie Mdladla, senior communications director at Paramount Africa, confirmed to TVwithThinus this week in response to a media query about Paramount+ that its website is live in South Africa and allows users to share their email addresses with the company for updates on Paramount+ news.

"We are planning to launch Paramount+ in South Africa, but don't have a definitive date as yet," she said.

Recording contract of Mzansi Magic's Idols winner reduced from album to just an EP.

by Thinus Ferreira

There are multiple ongoing indicators - besides the tanking ratings and scaled-back media liaison - that M-Net's Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is a much-reduced show and far down from the stature it once had years before in seasons prior: Case in point is the winner's recording contract which has apparently quietly contracted from an album to just an EP.  

The winner of Idols on Mzansi Magic got an album deal in seasons past. The winner of Idols now apparently just gets an EP from Kalawa Jazemee Records. TVSA was first to note the change.

The difference between an album and an EP is that an album has over half an hour of music with multiple songs. An EP has mostly four to six songs, and a running time of 30 minutes or less.

The season 17 Idols winner Berenike Trytsman, known as Berry, saw her "EP" - not an album - entitled "Unspoken Words" with 6 songs released just before the new season 18 winner, police trauma counsellor Thapelo Molomo was announced this past Sunday.

Boitumelo Tsele, publicist at The Duma Collective paid to communicate about Idols on behalf of Mzansi Magic didn't respond to multiple calls this week about Idols.

Thapelo Molomo says he will remain in his job at the South African police service but will try to fit in singing professionally. 

It's indicative that he probably doesn't see winning Idols as being able to launch him into a full singing career - especially not if you now just get a downscaled prize like an "EP" and not even an album, which gets released a year later and barely a week before another winner is announced.

At a press briefing on Sunday night after the Idols season finale which Mzansi Magic only told some media about and which used to be inclusive of all press in years past, Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director of local entertainment channels, reportedly said that Mzansi Magic is happy with how Idols season 18 turned out.

Neither Shirley Adonisi nor Gavin Wratten, Idols director, mentioned or said anything about Idols' sinking Mzansi Magic viewership on DStv which had lost half its total audience over a year.

"Idols is a brand that we believe in and is a brand that connects us to our youth in the country. It promotes nationalism and healthy competition while it gives young people a stage to showcase their talent," Shirley Adonisi said. 

Two 2022 Christmas Carols stage shows you'll be able to watch on TV.

by Thinus Ferreira 

There are two big upcoming 2022 Christmas Carols stage shows - the kykNET 2022 Kersfees Blyspel and the 20th Spar Carols by Candlelight with Jacaranda FM - people can attend in person, after which they will be available to watch on TV later in the year.

The 2022 kykNET Kersfees Blyspel is recorded on Wednesday 30 November at the Mosaïek-teatro in Fairland, Johannesburg and will be shown on television on kykNET (DStv 144) on Christmas Eve on Saturday 24 December at 20:00.

This special performance will have a rebroadcast the next day on Sunday 25 December on kykNET at 14:30, and on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) at 17:30.

The nativity story is being told in a unique way through beloved Afrikaans Christmas songs, with the audience who can remain once the TV recording is done, for a carols by candlelight event.

Tickets to attend the kykNET 2022 Kersfees Blyspel range from R150 to R220 and are available through iTickets. Appearing on stage will be Leah, Germandt Geldenhuys, Willem Botha, Early B, Stephanie Baartman, Hamilton Wessels, André Schwartz and Lynelle Kenned.

The show is from the pen of Wessel Pretorius with André Schwartz as stage director, André Velts as TV director, Soné Combrink as executive producer, Bryan Schimmel as musical director and Janine Neethling responsible for the music adaptations.

People attending are welcome to bring any toys which will be donated to needy children as Christmas gifts.

20th Spar Carols by Candlelight
Spar and Jacaranda FM are teaming up for the 20th Spar Carols by Candlelight as a live show, also being streamed on the website twice.

On 7 December the 2022 Spar Carols by Candlelight is taking place in Pretoria at the SunBet Arena Time Square where 7 000 seats are available, and which will also be live-streamed across the world on the same date.

"This year we’re extremely excited to celebrate 20 years of partnership with Spar, and look forward to combining the delight of a live concert with the pleasure of being able to watch the performances at home through this new hybrid event,” says Deirdre King, Jacaranda FM managing director.

The artist line-up for the show starting at 19:00 includes the Mzansi Youth Choir, Swing City, Claire Johnston, Corlea, Jo Black, Tarryn Lamb, J’Something, Refentse and Charlize Berg. 

The entry fee is R50 which will be used to buy toys to donate to needy children. Before the stage event starts, from 16:00 Spar will host a kiddies area themed around Santa’s Workshop in Africa where children can make a few crafts whilst having their faces painted. 

Families can also explore the Christmas market where vendors will be selling festive décor elements.

Jacaranda FM will stream the event again on 24 December on the radio station's website.

ANALYSIS. Why MultiChoice lost another 200 000 of its top-paying DStv subscribers in 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira 

Let the magnitude of it sink in: Another 200 000 - two hundred thousand! - people who used to pay for DStv became so-called "cord-cutters" and dropped MultiChoice within the space of six months. And these are not just any subscribers, they're the top-paying subscribers.

MultiChoice in its interim results for the six months until 30 September 2022 reported that while its overall number of subscribers grew, its DStv subscriber count in South Africa once again declined where it matters and hurts most - high-end premium segment subs. 

Quite worryingly, the ground under premium that used to seem impervious is also starting to sag: In the DStv middle market, thousands of subscribers also decided to cut the cord.

In its premium segment, comprising DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers, MultiChoice shed another 100 000 subscribers in South Africa. 

In its so-called mid-market tier, comprising DStv Compact and commercial subscribers, MultiChoice lost 100 000 subscribers. 

That's 200 000 subscribers combined who are gone and who used to see value at a certain price point but no longer can or want to pay for DStv.

While 400 000 DStv subscribers were added on the lower-tiers or "mass market" - DStv Family, DStv Access and DStv EasyView - it means that DStv has fewer viewers, and therefore lower ratings, for its costly premium content on channels like M-Net, 1Magic, SuperSport and kykNET and the premium international TV channels it pays channel carriage fees for.

MultiChoice's admission that another 200 000 of its better DStv subscribers said goodbye comes in the same week that hotel boss, Anton Gillis, CEO of the Kruger Gate Hotel, in an open letter in the BusinessDay newspaper took MultiChoice to task over how pricing is pushing people away from DStv and into the arms of streaming services like Netflix SA, Disney+ and others - explaining how they offer the same, for less.

In his letter, Anton Gillis points out how "the high cost of DStv sticks out like a sore thumb". 

"It's increasingly easy for hoteliers to offer other options to guests," he writes. "For the same price as a single DStv bouquet, they could have dedicated accounts for two or three of the biggest streaming services in each room. In doing so they'd be offering guests a far greater content selection without exposing them to the shortfalls of linear TV".

In MultiChoice's financials, Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO, notably writes: "Going forward, we will look for more opportunities to grow beyond pay-television. We will also be bringing additional value-added services to our customers as part of our strategy to build a broader consumer offering."

Little to nothing is said about what the company's focus is, or how it is doubling down its focus, on looking for opportunities to strengthen its premium pay-TV offering - to keep doing what it used to do so well to attract and to keep subscribers glued to its top-tiered bouquets in its premium segment.

How does a company like MultiChoice not just keep pulling people willing to pay for quality TV but prevent churn - or has it abandoned that dream and quietly capitulated to video streaming services? Is the thinking now that premium subscriber losses will continue and happen anyway, with the effort now shifting to focus on how to not lose premium segment subscribers so fast?

In difficult economic circumstances, people still pay for (moderate to expensive) products and services if the consumer thinks it's worth it. Two hundred thousand consumers, over six months this year, no longer thought that what they were paying for, is worth it.

MultiChoice is also laying blame on electricity blackouts, saying Eskom's load-shedding has dampened DStv subscriber growth. 

Yet, MultiChoice also says subscribers of its video streaming service Showmax grew 50% (without giving any numbers). Is a lack of electricity a bigger turn-off so to speak for a premium segment DStv subscriber than a consumer of streaming content? 

In Africa, and in South Africa, there are still many potential consumers left who could be enticed into paying for traditional linear pay-TV. Out of this segment, there are people who will pay for premium content and premium packages, if the consumer feels that what they're paying is offering value at the price.

Traditional linear TV is still how the bulk of premium sports - both local and international - on SuperSport's channels on MultiChoice's premium DStv bouquets are being watched in South Africa - on big flat-screen TVs in homes and communal viewing.

If only MultiChoice could find a way to replicate and retain this value-proposition stickiness for premium segment DStv subscribers, at a price that makes sense, for its other general entertainment content.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

SABC launches SABC+ video streaming service as 'missing piece to content distribution strategy'.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC is taking over TelkomONE as Telkom is getting out of offering its own customised video streaming service offering after two years, with the South African public broadcaster relaunching and rebranding it as SABC+.

SABC+ carries SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, SABC Sports and SABC News as TV channels, the SABC's 19 radio stations and says it will do occasional "pop-up channels" for radio and television in future. SABC Education will also be added as a TV channel.

SABC+ streams the various linear SABC TV channels live and has a 7-day catch-up window making content available for a week afterwards. There is also a "2-day rewind"-option in the cloud.

Pop-up type TV channels on SABC+ will include a festive SABC channel that will launch in December, as well as a Senzo Meyiwa murder trial TV channel for court watching.

SABC+ joins a crowded streaming space already populated by Netflix SA, MultiChoice's video streamer Showmax, eMedia's eVOD, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, BritBox SA, Acorn TV, VIU, TruthTV, WOW Presents Plus and MarqueeTV. 

SABC+ will work on the web and as an app but on Thursday morning didn't work, although did, which then redirects to

Merlin Naicker, SABC head of SABC video entertainment, says SABC+ was constructed and launched "at break-neck speed".

"What would have been a 24-month typical green fields project, we've launched in - I keep asking the team - and everybody says it's less than 21 days. So this 85-year-old organisation can move fast. That's the important message to get out to the industry - that we are moving faster."

"We're a lot more agile and SABC+ is going to speak to that content development moving forward."

He said the SABC had already digitised over 200 000 hours of the SABC archives that are "digitised and ready to go and which we will add to the service" and there are also plans to "remaster" some of the older content, including adding soundtracks in other languages in addition to the original language soundtrack of certain shows.

With only 18% of South African TV households which the SABC is aware of still paying their SABC TV Licence, SABC+ will not require or work with a valid SABC TV Licence number in order for a user or subscriber to gain access.

"A lot of our audiences are now migrating from the historical, traditional platforms to digital," said SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe.

"This is a great milestone for the SABC and it's great for audiences. It's interactive - the platform. They can use it in a manner that they can, to be able to view all our content, whether radio or television".

At an SABC launch event for SABC+ in Johannesburg on Thursday morning which a lot of media were not aware of would be happening, Madoda Mxakwe said "Today marks a very important day for the SABC as we launch this SABC over-the-top (OTT) platform".

"It's great that it's called SABC Plus because it's future-looking and it's talking about us getting into a very competitive space in the digital environment".

"We're introducing SABC+ which is really for everyone, everywhere, always. Today we move to deliver our content in a variety of platforms, across multiple platforms to reach our targeted audiences."

Madoda Mxakwe said that SABC+ gives the broadcaster "a good competitive edge to ensuring that we can migrate with audiences".

"We're repositioning the SABC as a multi-device content provider. We'll have more shows, more accessibility, more availability and access to our content anywhere you go. SABC+ is for us unlimited entertainment."

"We are now adapting to the fast-changing media environment. We know that our audiences are exposed to various media options," he said. "It's important that we reimagine public service broadcasting in the new digital era. So we're really placing a whole lot of emphasis in redefining the public broadcasting within an environment characterised by multi-platforms as well as multi-channels."

"Broadcasting in the digital age requires that we broaden the quality and scope of our content offering, intensify accessibility, as well as offer our audiences value for their time and their money."

"Very key for us is the ability to provide universal access. This has been the missing piece to complete the SABC's content distribution strategy."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Telkom offloads its TelkomONE video streaming service to the SABC to rebrand it as its own SABC+ streamer.

by Thinus Ferreira

Telkom is offloading its video streaming service TelkomONE two years after it launched, to the South African public broadcaster which will be taking it over from Thursday and rebrand it as its own SABC+ streamer.

Telkom's video streaming service TelkomONE abruptly went offline on Wednesday without any prior warning, saying it will make "an exciting service announcement".

An on-screen message on the TelkomONE website only reads: "Your TelkomONE entertainment service will be temporarily unavailable from midnight on 15 November to Thursday 17 November 2022. We apologise for the service interruption".

The website says TelkomONE will be making an "exciting service announcement".

The TelkomONE service downtime comes almost two years after Telkom launched its video streaming service in November 2020, offering both a free and subscription service, with linear TV channels being streamed including global TV news channels and the SABC's terrestrial TV channels, including a catalogue of on-demand content from the SABC and international content providers.

Telkom sent a SMS to TelkomONE subscribers on Wednesday, saying "Thank you for your loyalty. TelkomONE content will be migrated to the new and exciting SABC+ entertainment platform. Visit".

Telkom told TVwithThinus on Wednesday that TelkomONE has been given to the SABC which will manage it as its SABC+ streamer after undergoing a rebrand.

"Telkom and the SABC have had a successful partnership since the launch of TelkomONE in late 2020. The platform has now matured and is ready to scale under the management of the SABC's broadcasting expertise," Gugu Mthembu, Telkom CMO, told TVwithThinus.

"Their expertise in sourcing and curating relevant content will enrich the current content library for existing and new customers."

The SABC will take over all of TelkomONE's existing customer base. TelkomONE subscribers will be notified and transferred to the new SABC platform when it launches.

"We will continue to evolve to our digital lifestyle provider ambition through our investments in areas such as content, fintech, gaming and IoT by partnering with strategic partners to deliver products and services that create a better life for our customers."  

Paying TelkomONE subscribers of its TelkomONE Amp service will automatically have access to SABC+ at no additional cost. 

TelkomONE competed in a constantly getting more crowded over-the-top (OTT) space with the South African public broadcaster that wants to launch SABC+ before the end of this year.

Besides TelkomONE South African consumers already have access to streaming services including Netflix SA, MultiChoice's video streamer Showmax, eMedia's eVOD, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, BritBox SA, Acorn TV, VIU, TruthTV, WOW Presents Plus and MarqueeTV. 

NBCUniversal's Peacock isn't available yet. Warner Bros. Discovery is still to announce a new name for its combined HBO Max and discovery+ streamer and when it will launch in South Africa. Paramount will likely launch its Paramount+ in South Africa sometime during 2023.

TelkomONE video streamer goes offline, says 'service announcement' will be made.

by Thinus Ferreira

Telkom's video streaming service TelkomONE abruptly went offline on Wednesday without any prior warning, saying it will make "an exciting service announcement" with TelkomONE being taken over by the SABC to be relaunched and rebranded as SABC+.

An on-screen message on the TelkomONE website only reads: "Your TelkomONe entertainment service will be temporarily unavailable from midnight on 15 November to Thursday 17 November 2022. We apologise for the service interruption".

The website says TelkomONE will be making an "exciting service announcement".

It's unclear what happens to TelkomONE subscribers who have already paid for the weekly and monthly packages and how they'll be refunded for the service unavailability.

The TelkomONE service downtime comes almost two years after Telkom launched its video streaming service in November 2020, offering both a free and subscription service, with linear TV channels being streamed including global TV news channels, as well as a catalogue of on-demand content from the SABC as well as international content providers.

TelkomONE competes in a constantly getting more crowded over-the-top (OTT) space with the South African public broadcaster soon to launch its own video streaming service, possibly called SABC+, likely before the end of this year.

Besides TelkomONE South African consumers already have access to streaming services including Netflix SA, MultiChoice's Showmax, eMedia's eVOD, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, BritBox SA, Acorn TV, VIU, TruthTV, WOW Presents Plus and MarqueeTV. 

NBCUniversal's Peacock isn't available yet, and Warner Bros. Discovery is still to announce a new name for its combined HBO Max and discovery+ streamer and when it will launch in South Africa. Paramount will likely launch its Paramount+ in South Africa sometime during 2023.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

First-ever Malawi Film Festival to support its filmmakers who are 'not considered important' as country's first TV series is prepped for a January 2023 debut on OneZed.

by Thinus Ferreira

Malawi will be holding its first-ever film festival, with The Film Association of Malawi (FAMA) organising the inaugural Malawi Film Festival on 25 and 26 November in Lilongwe.

It comes as Malawi's first-ever, locally-produced TV series is set to make its debut in January 2023 on M-Net's OneZed TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv.

The Malawi Film Festival has a budget of K68 million (R1.14 million) for the southeastern African country's first film festival.

FAMA is partnering with Malawi's National Planning Commission (NPC), MultiChoice Malawi, as well as the country's government departments of tourism, wildlife and culture, to hold the 2-day film showcase at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Malawi's capital.

The Malawi Film Festival's aim is to try and improve the quality and scope of locally-produced TV and film content in Malawi, and to showcase Malawi's culture and stories on screen. 

The theme of the first Malawi Film Festival is "Filmmaking for social economic growth and culture preservation".

Besides the showing of short films, the Malawi Film Festival will include a series of training workshops, a short film competition and two "movie nights".

Gift Sukez, FAMA president, says the plan is to turn the Malawi Film Festival into an annual occurrence, as something to help, support and to promote the country's struggling film industry and filmmakers who "are not considered important, are not motivated enough, and end up quitting the industry".

He says Malawi's film industry has the potential to create one million job opportunities, but that much more support is needed. "We are looking forward to more support from the general public as we revolutionise our film industry".

Zena Makunje, MultiChoice Malawi corporate affairs manager, says the pan-African pay-TV operator wants to help promote the country's filmmakers to showcase their short films.

Malawi's first-ever TV series is set to make its debut on M-Net's OneZed TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv platforms in the country in January 2023.
Emma Gichonge, MultiChoice Malawi managing director, says "We are committed to ensuring Malawian stories are told and it brings me great joy to have observed such a positively overwhelming response to the call for proposals for the first Malawian comedy or drama series that has been commissioned for the OneZed channel".

South Africa's public broadcaster now a Month without a SABC board as dysfunctional parliament committee now blames problem with police's fingerprint system in vetting.

by Thinus Ferreira

Today, 15 November 2022, marks a month that South Africa's struggling public broadcaster is coasting rudderless without a SABC board, due to the laziness and dysfunctional portfolio committee on communications in South Africa's parliament who failed to do their job, with the latest excuse being that the South African police's fingerprint system has a problem.

Shockingly, there is no indication, notification or guidance from parliament's portfolio committee chairperson Boyce Maneli, on when it plans to sit and make a final shortlist of 12 people and to essentially "appoint" a new SABC board.

Boyce Maneli shamelessly lied and said a new SABC board would be recommended by the end of October and no later than the beginning of November. It's now mid-November.

The term of the previous SABC board expired on 15 October with parliament's portfolio committee on communications, supposed to shortlist and send a list of names to the general assembly to be rubberstamped by president Cyril Ramaphosa, who were warned in time but failed to start in time to do interviews to make appointments to a new SABC board.

Public Interest SA, an independent civic body, warns that the delay in appointing a new SABC board could seriously destabilise the South African public broadcaster and lead to a catastrophic situation.

Boyce Maneli from parliament's portfolio committee on communications is trying to blame the committee's failure on the State Security Agency (SSA) who is claimed to be "slow" in vetting the shortlisted 34 candidates who were interviewed for board positions in September.

It's however the committee members who were warned and knew full well that they had to start the process, who waited too long and left the process too late.

The vetting of four candidates is still outstanding.

Now Boyce Maneli is also blaming the South African police service, saying that according to the SSA, there is an issue and problem with the police's fingerprint system which is used in the vetting process.

Diane Kohler Barnard, Democratic Alliance MP, in parliament, said "The SABC has sat for months with no board and the State Security Agency is being blamed yet we're given a minuscule amount to do the vetting of the 34 final candidates".

Vuyani Pambo, Economic Freedom Fighters MP, said "While we are gathered here the SABC is still without a board since the term of its board expires. This is the most serious indicator of the dysfunctionality of this parliament".