Friday, January 20, 2023

The SABC is about to make a very big change about TV repeats, will start to remove repeats across sister channels as it dismantle transversal strategy.

by Thinus Ferreira  

The SABC is set to soon make very big changes around repeats on the schedules of its three terrestrial TV channels and will soon get rid of cross-channel rebroadcasts to try and give a more distinct content character to SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 in an attempt to stem the channels' TV ratings slide.

Over the past decade, SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 diluted much of their unique channel identities as one channel's shows bled into the other two through multiple repeats - something the SABC called its "transversal strategy".

The aim was twofold: As the public broadcaster was forced to spend less and less on original local content, a myriad of repeats of one SABC channel's shows on another served to pad schedules and fill gaps, reducing the need to commission and schedule fresh content in those timeslots and keeping costs down.

Secondly, the SABC argued that the "windowing" of content from one channel on another was a promotion exercise, bringing in more viewers for rating tallies - especially in morning timeslots, and making potential new viewers aware that a show exists that they can watch in prime time as new episodes on another channel.

Now the SABC is finally starting to dismantle its transversal strategy after many years. 

The public broadcaster plans to return to programming and scheduling SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 as uniquely branded TV channel destinations and thereby reducing content bleed and channel brand identity dilution.

"We're looking at reducing our repeat ratio in prime time, and then realigning the network repeat schedule," Merlin Naicker, head of SABC video entertainment, told parliament.

"We'll start to remove repeats across sister channels. So you won't see Uzalo on SABC1 as an example, repeat on SABC2 and SABC3 going forward."

"We'll contain them from an audience perspective. It will be on the primary channel, and repeat on the primary channel as well. This also takes into cognisance that we have now launched our SABC+ streaming service, so repeat content would be better served there, than utilising the scarce spectrum we have in terms of linear broadcasting."

"The challenge we have on a linear TV channel service, what you broadcast goes to the entire population. With SABC+ which is an on-demand platform, it becomes much easier to repeat content where it's done on an individual basis."

"Each user can decide whether they want to watch a show or not. That's how SABC+ helps us with repeats."

"If you've missed it on the linear service, you can get it on SABC+ as a repeat and that's a viewer consumption pattern that we're starting to entrench with audiences that will allow us to exploit fresh content without impacting repeats," Merlin Naicker said.