Thursday, June 29, 2023

Netflix retitles first African animation series Mama K's Team 4 to Supa Team 4, releases first trailer for Afro-futuristic kids show.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has retitled its first African animation series originally called Mama K's Team 4 to Supa Team 4, with the series that will debut on the streaming service globally on 20 July that unveiled its first trailer on Thursday.

Eclipse Communications repping Netflix South Africa was asked about the title change but didn't respond to the media query.

Supa Team 4 was created by the Zambian writer Malengu Mulendema, with South African animation studio Triggerfish and the London-based kids' entertainment specialist CAKE as producers and with animation from Superprod Animation in France.

Besides Netflix's first African animation series releasing in July 2023, Triggerfish is co-incidentally also behind Kizazi Moto also releasing in July on rival Disney+ and is also an Afrofuturistic animation anthology take as Disney's first African animation series for its streaming service.

The 8-episode Supa Team 4 revolves around 4 schoolgirls who transform into superheroes against the backdrop of a neo-futuristic city, Lusaka. 

Instead of being on their way to detention "a fantastical adventure awaits them as they shed their school uniforms and transform into magnificent superheroes" the official Netflix description for Supa Team 4 reads.

"Up against devious villains, the fierce foursome finds themselves at the centre of an epic battle to save their beloved city, Lusaka. With luck and an unbreakable friendship, the girls balance superhero duties, doing chores and finishing their homework."

The Supa Team 4 voice cast includes John Kani, Pamela Nomvete, Zowa Ngwira, Namisa Mdlalose, Nancy Sekhokoane and Sparky Xulu, along with international voice actors John MacMillan and Kimani Arthur.

The Zambian rapper, singer and songwriter Sampa the Great sings the Supa Team 4 theme song. The series is also dubbed in isiZulu with Linda Sokhulu voicing the character of Mama K.

The Supa Team 4 main characters are:

Temwe Chiti (voiced by Kimani Arthur) 

Superhero name: T-Mililo 

Komana Mwinga (voiced by Zowa Ngwira) 

Superhero name: K-Bongo

Zee (Zikomo) Phiri (voiced by Nancy Sekhokoane) 

Superhero name: Za-Mpezi 

Monde Wamunyima (voiced by Namisa Mdlalose) 

Superhero name: M-Kozo

Mama K (voiced by Pamela Nomvete) 

M-Net adapts The Bridge reality competition show as Die Brug for kykNET.

by Thinus Ferreira

At a M-Net showcase event this afternoon for ad buyers Waldimar Pelser, director of M-Net premium channels, revealed that the call to entry earlier this year for a new adventure reality show on kykNET (DStv 144) was for an Afrikaans adaptation of the reality franchise The Bridge which will be on the channel as Die Brug.

At MultiChoice's DStv Media Sales event, an annual event courting ad buyers, M-Net said that Die Brug will be the 11th adaptation of the reality franchise worldwide.

The Bridge is an original Banijay format, created by Zeppelin, with the winner getting R1 million after they have to work together to build a bridge, several hundred metres long, to an island.

Die Brug will air on kykNET (DStv 144) from Thursday 26 October at 20:00 for 11 episodes.

"The Bridge is not just a show, it's a global phenomenon that captures the interest of viewers around the world," says Waldimar Pelser in a statement.

"We are thrilled to be producing the local version of this hit franchise, bringing together the best South African talent, and showcasing our beautiful landscapes to create a series that will have audiences at the edge of their seats."

According to MultiChoice the format adaptation agreement was brokered by Robin Pollok, vice president of sales of Banijay Rights for Africa, Middle East, Greece and Israel.

In a prepared supplied quote Robin Pollak states that "The Bridge delivers a high-stakes reality competition packed with gripping challenges, in a breath-taking location that has proven to be popular with audiences around the world".

"We are excited to watch this incredible show travel to new horizons and license a format with kykNET for the first time. We are certain that viewers in South Africa will be equally captivated when it makes its debut."

eNCA is free to use the word 'blackout' instead of Eskom's euphemistic 'load-shedding' on-screen to inform DStv subscribers about South Africa's electricity woes.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia's South African TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) is fully allowed to use the word "blackout" on-screen instead of Eskom's euphemistic moniker "load-shedding" in order to keep DStv subscribers informed of the nature, severity and stages of Eskom's blackouts and the country's electricity capacity woes.

Following a complaint about eNCA's use of the word "blackout" as a notification in the top right-hand corner of the screen instead of "load-shedding", the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) dismissed the complaint.

While the complaint to the BCCSA was about eNCA, the South African public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404) channel has also switched a few months ago from using the word "load-shedding" to "blackout" after the severity of Eskom's unending electricity curtailment process dramatically increased in severity.

A DStv subscriber Nhlanhla Gumede complained in May that eNCA's use of "blackout" on screen gives the "wrong impression" about South Africa's crippling electricity problems caused by Eskom, and makes it look as if "things are worse than they are when it comes to electricity supply in South Africa".

Nhlanhla Gumede told the BCCSA in the complaint that "these journalists and their bosses are simply arrogant and have become law unto themselves. It is my understanding that you mandate among other things, is to reign them in. You could check their respective channels' screen and you will see that and then ask them if they know it is there."

The complainant said that eNCA "sensationalise an issue" by using the word "blackout" to refer to the lack of electricity, instead of Eskom's word of "load-shedding".

The BBCSA noted that the complaint falls outside its jurisdiction and that "any intervention by the BCCSA in this regard will constitute an interference with the broadcaster's editorial discretion".

"If for whatever reason the broadcaster sees it fit to utilise the words 'blackouts' instead of  'load shedding' it is definitely its prerogative to put up the latter, for as long as there is no contravention of the provisions of the Code the BCCSA cannot intervene."

"All factors considered there is no contravention of any of the provisions of the Code of Conduct, thus the complaint is accordingly dismissed."

After Big Brother Titans ratings flop MultiChoice is switching back to Nigeria's Big Brother Naija commissioned for an 8th season.

by Thinus Ferreira

After the ratings flop of MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic's joint South African and Nigerian production of Big Brother Titans earlier this year on DStv, MultiChoice is switching back to Nigeria's Big Brother version for the continent, Big Brother Naija, which has been commissioned for another season.

MultiChoice Nigeria will be doing an 8th season of Big Brother Naija for DStv subscribers across the sub-Saharan African continent after the 7th season, which was named "Big Brother Naija: Level Up" in 2022.

DStv Liberia announced to subscribers in the West African country that MultiChoice will be doing another Big Brother Naija season. In an announcement about a DStv price reduction from July for subscribers in Liberia, the company noted that "Big Brother Nigeria will return".

Big Brother Naija has continued to enjoy both social media buzz and TV ratings success - both of which eluded Big Brother Titans earlier this year.

With both a hugely misguided and largely absent PR and publicity strategy from Mzansi Magic and MultiChoice, bad casting of housemates who didn't gel and more entertaining contestants evicted first, along with a lack of buzz and interest from DStv subscribers, it wasn't surprising that low DStv ratings were expectedly far below Big Brother Naija levels due to the less compelling content.

DStv Liberia announces massive subscription fee price drop from July 2023 and says reduction is its way to thanks DStv subscribers for their loyalty.

by Thinus Ferreira

DStv Liberia is dropping monthly subscription prices massively for customers in the West African country from July 2023 who will see an enormous drop in its American dollar-based fee pricing from next month.

Liberia is the first country in Africa in 2023 where MultiChoice is reducing monthly DStv subscription fees, after hiking prices in several African countries this year from South Africa and Kenya, to Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and from July also Tanzania.

DStv Premium in Liberia is getting reduced from US$91.00 to US$61.00 from July, while the DStv Compact Plus package will drop from US$59.00 to US$36.00. DStv Compact is getting a price reduction from US$28.00 to US$23.00 monthly.

The DStv Family package will be cut from US$21.00 to US$13.00 monthly, while DStv Access is getting cheaper from US$14.00 to US$8.00.

In a press statement announcing the reduction in DStv fees in Liberia, Simeon Freeman, Consolidated Group and DStv Liberia CEO, says MultiChoice is reducing its DStv subscription fees in Liberia since it is looking at various ways to thank its many customers for their ongoing support and loyalty whilst delivering world-class entertainment at a price they can afford.

DStv Liberia says reducing monthly DStv fees is MultiChoice's way of "demonstrating commitment to its customers to ensure that they receive the best possible access to great entertainment at an outstanding value".

"DStv Liberia is delighted to announce that DStv customers in Liberia will now enjoy quality entertainment for less. This means that monthly subscription prices on DStv have decreased effective 1 July 2023."

"We are constantly looking at various ways to thank our customers for their ongoing support and loyalty whilst delivering a world-class entertainment service at a price they can afford. The price drop across the DStv bouquets is our way of demonstrating a commitment to our customers to ensure they received the best possible access to great entertainment at an outstanding value."

"As a lead partner to DStv, MultiChoice is committed to putting customers at the heart of every decision we make and we aim to continuously delight them with great entertainment and the best value. DStv viewers of all ages and tastes are in store for great entertainment."

"Across the African continent, DStv presents the most value from other competitive pay-TV offerings. Over the past 26 years of which DStv Liberia has operated in the market, we have worked tirelessly to ensure we provide an unrivalled channel for our customers to enjoy. Our key priority is to put our customers' needs at the heart of everything and we undertake to continue doing so."

After MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic's rating flop of Big Brother Titans in South Africa, DStv Liberia also announced that the company is going back to the Nigerian version for another season, with MultiChoice Nigeria that has commissioned a new season of Big Brother Naija.

DStv Liberia says "Big Brother Nigeria will return. MultiChoice will make great entertainment even more accessible to our customers in Liberia".

National Geographic magazine gets rid of its last remaining editorial staff.

The Washington Post reports that National Geographic has gotten rid of the last of its remaining magazine staff writers, with the magazine that belongs to The Walt Disney Company who effectively fired the final 19 editorial staffers who were still employed with permanent positions.

The 19 staffers were told in April that they are out of and losing their jobs. Article assignments and writers will be commissioned as freelance writers, or articles will be cobbled together by editors - work that used to take months.

According to the staffers who are leaving, National Geographic also cut back on the photography and photographer contracts which made it possible for photographers to spend months in the field to capture the iconic images that the National Geographic magazine was known for over 135 years.

The yellow-framed National Geographic magazine will also no longer be sold on newsstands in the United States from 2024.

According to the report, also out the door is Debra Adams Simmons, who in September 2022 was promoted to vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at National Geographic Media, which is the entity that oversees the magazine and website. 

Besides the magazine, Disney owns and runs the National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD TV channels, which are carried on MultiChoice's DStv and StarTimes Media SA's StarSat pay-TV services in South Africa.

Chris Albert, National Geographic spokesperson, told The Washington Post that getting rid of the last remaining staff will not affect National Geographic's plans to continue to publish a monthly magazine "but rather give us more flexibility to tell different stories and meet our audiences where they are across our many platforms".

Nominees for the kykNET Silwerskerm film festival's new Afrikaans TV awards is curtailed to just kykNET shows as basically everything and everyone on kykNET is considered good enough for a prize.

by Thinus Ferreira

In a bizarre move, the new Afrikaans TV awards added this year to the existing Silwerskermfilmfees film awards - a film festival organised by M-Net's kykNET division - is limited to just kykNET shows and talent, with virtually every show and every talent on just kykNET up for a prize.

The 11th kykNET Silwerskermfees film festival takes place during the last week of August with the awards show set for Saturday 26 August from Cape Town's International Convention Centre (CTICC), and which will be broadcast the following night on 27 August on kykNET (DStv 144) at 20:00.

Earlier this month kykNET announced that it's widening its Afrikaans film awards held as the closer of its annual kykNET Silwerskermfees film festival held in Camps Bay, Cape Town, to celebrate and honour the best of Afrikaans television as well.

When kykNET revealed the nominees on Wednesday, it turns out that the "best" of Afrikaans television are purportedly just kykNET shows, excluding Afrikaans television not part of kykNET. 

While the Silwerskermfilmfees film festival includes Afrikaans and other films in other languages commissioned and financially paid for and supported by MultiChoice, M-Net and kykNET, the film festival is also open to and inclusive of Afrikaans and other films that do not belong to MultiChoice or kykNET and which have not received financial support or funding from the Randburg-based pay-TV operator.

While the Silwerskermfilmfees film festival - and its film awards competition - has been and continues to be inclusive and inviting of a film slate larger than just kykNET-supported Afrikaans filmmaking, its new TV awards is however being limited to strictly just kykNET's Afrikaans TV content.

Afrikaans programming and shows produced by production companies for, for instance, Media24's VIA (DStv 147) Afrikaans lifestyle channel, the South African public broadcaster's SABC2, eMedia and, or Afrikaans video streaming services carrying Afrikaans TV content like Jou Afrikaans (JA) or AfriForumTV are all being excluded by kykNET from being eligible for its Silwerskermfees Afrikaans TV awards that it says will honour "top television".

"It is high time that, in addition to the excellent work in film, we also celebrate outstanding contributions on our kykNET channels," says Waldimar Pelser, director of M-Net premium channels, in a statement, about the nominees for the Silwerskermfilmfees film festival's new TV awards.

"Without their exceptional talent, we wouldn't be able to keep our viewers glued to the box. It is a privilege to thank them with the nominations and awards."

 Across 21 categories which will each yield a winner that's the best in Afrikaans television according to kykNET, kykNET nominated virtually every conceivable show and talent available on kykNET.

Included in kykNET's list of nominees is everything and everyone from so-called reality housewives to advertiser-funded shows (AFPs), as well as a whopping 10 nominees for a category called Best Ensemble Presenting Team - a category that oddly excludes the channel's two most-likely winners in such a category, its flagship magazine shows Kwêla and Bravo! both produced by Homebrew Films.

TVwithThinus asked kykNET why only kykNET TV programming has neem nominated for the Afrikaans TV awards. 

kykNET publicist Herchelle Benjamin in response to the media query didn't provide any definite answer and said the awards honour the best films making their debut at the festival but for the first time "we are also celebrating the exceptional talent which ensured top entertainment on our kykNET channels over the past year".

Asked who was responsible for choosing the nominees for the different 21 categories, kykNET declined to provide any names.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

MultiChoice's DStv Media Sales now sells AMC Networks International's CBS Justice and CBS Reality channels.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's DStv Media Sales has now also taken over selling of advertising inventory on AMC Networks International's CBS Justice and CBS Reality channels.

DStv Media Sales says that it's now "the new commercial home" of CBS Justice and CBS Reality with  CBS Justice (DStv Channel 170) already available for commercial opportunities and CBS Reality becoming available from 1 August 2023.

MultiChoice makes CBS Justice available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers, while CBS Reality extends down to the DStv Access package.

"We are excited to showcase the international factual content line-up coming to CBS Reality, availing opportunities for advertisers to connect with engaged audiences," says Piwe Motshegoa, head of sales, general entertainment at DStv Media Sales, in a press release.

"The channel brings compelling real-life documentaries and series all day, every day. Audiences can look forward to new exclusives such as Close Calls on Camera in August as well as the timeless classic favourite, Judge Judy, an ever-green environment for advertisers."

According to DStv Media Sales, CBS Justice "continues to deliver riveting expert-led true crime programmes to DStv audiences".

"The channel has invested in fresh, thrilling content coming to screens in August and September such as The Fatal Attraction Murder, and Killers: Caught on Camera. In the latter part of the year, Bloodline Detectives returns for a fourth season of crimes solved by the expertise of genealogists and the latest forensic technology."

"Advertisers will be able to explore various media opportunities and bundle packaging on AMC networks channels and beyond, giving brands optimum mileage for spend."

Futurama and Billions release trailers with Damian Lewis who returns.

by Thinus Ferreira

Futurama and Billions have released new trailers with the animated series that is back after a decade, while Damian Lewis is returning to his role of billionaire Bobby Axelrod for the final Billions season.

Billy Axelrod who left for Switzerland returns for the upcoming 7th and final season of Billions, seen on M-Net (DStv 101) and starting 13 August in the United States, says in the trailer "I'm back now, and I'm wide awake".

According to Showtime's official logline for the final season "alliances are turned on their heads and old wounds are weaponised. Loyalties are tested. Betrayal takes on epic proportions. Enemies become wary friends. And Bobby Axelrod returns, as the stakes grow from Wall Street to the world."

Besides Damian Lewis who left at the end of the fifth season and is coming back, returning cast members in Billions' final season include Paul Giamatti, Corey Stoll, Maggie Siff, David Costabile, Asia Kate Dillon, Dola Rashad, Jeffrey DeMunn, Sakina Jaffrey, Daniel Breaker and Toney Goins. 

Although Billions is ending, Showtime announced that is in active development of several possible spinoff series for the Paramount+ video streaming service. 

Millions will follow "diverse, thirtysomething financial mogul wannabes doing whatever it takes to make in in Manhattan" while Trillions will be based on "fictional stories of the richest people in the world - titans of industry living all over the country but coming into contact and conflict with one another". 

Billions: Miami revolves around the world of private planes in Miami, Florida while Billions: London is set in the United Kingdom's financial world.

Back to the Futurama
The beloved Futurama, gone for a decade, is getting a "Hulurama" revival on the Hulu video streaming service in July, which means the new 8th season of Futurama will very likely show up on M-Net (DStv 101) for South African viewers. UPDATE 3 July 2023: Nope, it's going to Disney+ in South Africa.

While the previous seven seasons of the Matt Groening animated series which ended in 2013 were acquired by M-Net when it was distributed by Fox, Futurama is now part of the Disney contribution to Hulu which sells to M-Net.

The Planet Express crew are back in season eight after they have been cryogenically frozen, with the majority of the original voice cast including Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and David Herman once again lending their voices for their characters like Fry, Leela and Bender. 

The 8th season will have 20 episodes, released in two batches of 10 episodes.

"After a brief 10-year hiatus, Futurama has crawled triumphantly from the cryogenic tube, its full original cast and satirical spirit intact," the show says in a press release.

"The 10 all-new episodes have something for everyone. New viewers will be able to pick up the series from here, while long-time fans will recognise payoffs to decades-long mysteries - including developments in the epic love story of Fry and Leela, the mysterious contents of Nibbler's litter box, the secret history of evil Robot Santa, and the whereabouts of Kif and Amy's tadpoles."

"Meanwhile there's a whole new pandemic in town as the crew explores the future of vaccines, bitcoin, cancel culture and streaming TV."

David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan the new Clark Kent and Lois Lane In DC Studios' Superman: Legacy.

by Thinus Ferreira

David Corenswet is the new Clark Kent and Rachel Brosnahan is the new Lois Lane, DC Studios has announced, with the actors who will step into the roles in James Gunn's reboot of the Superman franchise on the big screen with Superman: Legacy.

David Corenswet (29) replaces Henry Cavill in the big screen role after a months long casting process, with Superman: Legacy, co-produced by Peter Safran, which is set for worldwide release on 11 July 2025. 

DC Studios must still cast the characters of Lex Luthor and the superheroes representing The Authority who will all appear Superman: Legacy

The film is not an origin story but will focus on a "young version" of Superman, similar to the Smallville TV series, with Clark Kent as a reporter interacting with Lois Lane and embarking on a journey to reconcile his Kryptonian heritage with his life in Smallville.

David Corenswet is mostly known for his roles in Ryan Murphy's series on Netflix like The Politician and Hollywood, appeared in Netflix's Look Both Ways in 2022, and was in HBO's We Own This City miniseries last year. Later this year he will appear in the new Apple TV+ series Lady in the Lake.

Rachel Brosnahan (32) is known for her role as the Jewish housewife Miriam (Mrs Maisel) in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime Video.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

BCCSA dismisses complaint over bare breasts in Mzansi Magic's Shaka iLembe on MultiChoice's DStv.

by Thinus Ferreira

A DStv subscriber's complaint about nudity and bare-breasted women depicted in Mzansi Magic's new Sunday night drama series Shaka iLembe has been dismissed by the Broadcasting Complains Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).

While MultiChoice's M-Net channels like M-Net (DStv 101) and its streamer Showmax have been showing bare breasts, buttocks and also an increasing number of male genitals over the past few years in American series - notably from HBO - there haven't been complaints until women with bare breasts appeared in a locally-produced series.

The BCCSA received a complaint from a DStv viewer about the female breasts on display in Shaka iLembe trailers shown on the pay-TV service and dismissed the complaint. 

MultiChoice said the promos for Shaka iLembe were all scheduled and shown late at night after the so-called "watershed period" for pay-TV after content aimed at adult audiences can be shown and when children are less likely to be watching television.

"Further, in line with classification guidelines, if the nudity is in cultural context, no nudity warning is required. The overall age restriction for the series is 16," a MultiChoice spokesperson told TVwithThinus in response to a media query.

Hlonipha Mokoena, associate professor at the Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research (WiSER), one of the academics who was involved in Shaka iLembe, says "It was to be expected that on seeing the first episode of Shaka Ilembe some viewers would feel discomfort at the sight of the style of clothing that we have used to represent Zulu/Nguni culture".

"From our initial discussions about the series after extensive consultation with the lead cast, we made a policy decision that whilst we wanted to be authentic in representing the period, no actor or actress would be forced to reveal their body if it made them feel uncomfortable or exploited."

"The decision was also that no actor or actress would be denied a part in Shaka Ilembe if they decided that they didn't want to show their body. We followed that policy in the making of the series."

e.Media's eVOD video streaming services reaches 800 000 registered users.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia's eVOD video streaming service has reached 800 000 registrations, fuelling South African viewers' transition from linear television to streaming content online.

eMedia launched eVOD in August 2021 and confirms that it has now passed 800 000 registrations two months before its second anniversary.

eMedia isn't saying how many of the 800 000 eVOD activations are currently active but the company is much more open to the industry about the growth of its South African streamer than rivals like MultiChoice's Showmax, The Walt Disney Company Africa's Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.

While the Goliath in the room, Netflix, doesn't break out subscriber numbers for South Africa specifically but reports for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as a while, Netflix does give an overall subscriber count for this region, which now stands at roughly 77 million subscribers. This is also Netflix's biggest global region in terms of subscriber count.

The South African public broadcaster that launched its SABC+ video streaming service in November 2022is adding roughly 15 000 registrations per day and wants to reach between one and two million subscribers by November 2023.

MultiChoice continues to decline to provide any subscriber numbers for Showmax, as does Disney for Disney+ in South Africa, and Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+. 

Besides these, there are also a number of much smaller players active in the same space like PCCW's VIU, BritBox, Marquee TV, PrideTV and CineMagic that are not revealing their subscriber numbers for the local market either, with Paramount Global which is still to launch Paramount+ in South Africa and with Warner Bros. Discovery's Max also still non-existent in the country.

eMedia says that eVOD - which continues to add eOriginals ranging from drama series to made-for-TV films - has become "a streaming success story, and is seen as one of the fastest growing, subscription-free, streaming platforms in South Africa".

eVOD currently has a growing slate of 24 locally produced eOriginals: Six TV series and 18 films which have all specifically been commissioned for the streamer, with a new locally-produced title added monthly.

eVOD added a second season of the Splintered Pieces series in April and is set to add Seconds, starring Vusi Kunene, in July.

MultiChoice Tanzania increases DStv prices by up to 8.8% from July 2023 as the latest African country getting a DStv price hike.

by Thinus Ferreira

Tanzania is the latest African country getting a DStv price hike with MultiChoice Tanzania hiking DStv subscription fees from 1 July 2023 by up to ccc%.

Besides MultiChoice South Africa's DStv price increase in April this year, MultiChoice Africa also hiked prices in several other African countries during the first half of 2023 ranging from Ghana and Nigeria to Kenya and Uganda.

From July, DStv Premium in Tanzania is increasing from 155 000 TZS Tanzanian Shilling to 165 000 (R1268), a 6.4% increase.

DStv Compact Plus is increasing from 99 000 TZS to 105 000 TZS, an increase of 6%, while DStv Compact is getting hiked from 56 000 TZS to 60 000 TZS - an increase of 7.1%.

DStv Shangwe is increased by 8.8% from 34 000 to 37 000 TZS, and DStv Bomba is getting a 4.3% increase this year from 23 000 TZS to 24 000 TZS. The price of the DStv Poa bouquet will remain unchanged a 10 000 TZS.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Netflix adds Shaka Zulu before Mzansi Magic’s Shaka iLembe debut.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has acquired and added 1986's iconic 10-episode Shaka Zulu drama series just before MultiChoice and M-Net's new 12-episode Shaka iLembe drama series will make its debut on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) this Sunday night at 20:00.

A rising tide lifts all boats and Netflix appears to be betting that a surge in interest and online Shaka searches might channel some viewers to the video streaming service to sample the Harmony Gold and SABC co-production from William C. Faure that starred Henry Cele in the iconic warrior role.

On Tuesday Netflix SA, through its Eclipse Communications PR agency, was asked why Shaka Zulu was added now to the streamer's catalogue of content but it didn't respond with an answer.

Adding Shaka Zulu to Netflix just before the debut of Shaka iLembe on Mzansi Magic is the clearest move of so-called "counter-programming" yet by the streamer within the South African market.

It's a technique long-employed by rival American TV networks that would directly schedule a similar type of competitive content in the same timeslot as a first-announced original, hoping to dull some of its shine or dent ratings and lure over some viewers.

While the gaze of the 1986 series in English, told through flashbacks by the Irish Dr Henry Fynn is decidedly from a European settler perspective, the new Bomb Productions 2022 series done in isiZulu with a stellar ensemble cast and Lemogang Tsipa in the title role, flips the story to a South African gaze - telling the story of Shaka's rise to Zulu king from an insider's perspective. 

While the 1986 Shaka series has nudity and violence, Shaka iLembe ups the ante for the modern sensibilities of the HBO-sensitised audience, with more nudity, sex, violence and blood splatterings in service of the story, for a show definitely not meant for younger viewers.

Shaka iLembe was filmed in four locations across KwaZulu-Natal, as well as in Gauteng around Johannesburg and the Cradle of Humankind, employing one of the biggest cast and crews in South African television history at 9 150 people who contributed to the sprawling project.

While Shaka Zulu is a limited series of 10 episodes, MultiChoice and M-Net envision Shaka iLembe to run for three seasons.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Shocking Disney+ price hike from July for South Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

Disney has announced a shocking price hike of 16.8% for its Disney+ video streaming service in South Africa with the Mouse House increasing monthly subscription fees from R119 to R139 from 19 July 2023.

Walt Disney Africa's 16.8% fee increase for a monthly Disney+ subscription in South Africa is far above South Africa's inflation rate, with the Disney+ annual subscription fee which is also hiked far above the inflation price and increasing by 14.4% from R1 190 to R1 390. 

Walt Disney Africa didn't issue a statement or public announcement but is mentioning the price hike coming into effect from 19 July on its FAQ page for Disney+ for South African subscribers where it notes that "Starting 19 July 2023, the price of Disney+ will be revised to R139 per month and R1 390 per year".

According to Disney, all existing annual Disney+ customers in South Africa who get their subscription directly from Disney+ will have been sent an SMS from 4 June and monthly customers will be sent an SMS from 13 June to advise them that the price for their subscription will change on 19 July.

All existing customers who get their subscription in app via Google and Apple will be notified on 19 July with Apple customers new price coming into effect 30 days after notification and Google customers new price coming into effect 60 days after notification.

All existing customers who get their subscription through MultiChoice's "Add to bill" functionality will be notified with an SMS 30 days before the new price comes into effect on 19 July.

Disney isn't giving Disney+ subscribers any reason for the drastic increase on the Disney+ FAQ page, or why it is so far above the inflation rate.

On Tuesday Walt Disney Africa was asked why Disney+ is doing a price increase and what factors are responsible for the Disney+ price hike being so much higher than South Africa's current inflation rate. The company didn't respond with a statement.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Carte Blanche anchor and 'patriarch' Derek Watts reveals cancer fight.

by Thinus Ferreira

Derek Watts, the iconic South African TV anchor of Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) on Sunday nights, and considered the weekly current affairs show's "patriarch", has revealed his cancer fight amidst an ongoing health battle, saying he's determined to return to the show he's anchored for 35 years when he's better.

The highly-respected journalist and TV presenter standing 1.9 metres tall who has been with Carte Blanche for 35 years, suffered a big health scare in late March which landed him in hospital, and on Sunday night revealed that he's privately been battling cancer as well.

The veteran Carte Blanche anchor was diagnosed with severe sepsis after he collapsed in Hoedspruit during a family trip and said that he had to learn to walk again with the help of a physiotherapist.

On Sunday night, a frail-looking Derek Watts in a taped recording made on Saturday from a Netcare hospital bed, revealed his cancer battle to Carte Blanche viewers but noted that he planned to return to the show when he's better.

Last year Derek Watts was diagnosed with skin cancer that had spread to his lungs. With the support of his family and specialists, he was able to continue presenting Carte Blanche, but the sepsis infection in March complicated his cancer treatment.

"Another short hospital stay, but I'm fine - I'll be out of here soon," Derek Watts said. 

"Really just wanted to say to our viewers - thank you for all the love, the messages, the prayers that give us all hope. and thanks of course for continuing to watch Carte Blanche. I'll be back soon, have a magic week and cheers for now."

The Hillbrow-born TV presenter who grew up in Bulawayo joined the South African public broadcaster's SABC News division in 1985 and later co-anchored its Top Sport sports magazine show.

He jumped to M-Net when the pay-TV channel decided to start Carte Blanche in 1988 as a new South African current affairs magazine TV show two years after M-Net had launched.

Derek Watts was the original co-host of Carte Blanche alongside Ruda Landman and has been with the Combined Artistic Productions produced show for the past 35 years - door-stopping various criminals caught in the act and doing interviews around the world, taking him from Mount Everest to the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington during the Gulf War. 

MultiChoice in a statement on Sunday night after the episode confirmed that "Derek Watts will be stepping back from his work to focus on his health" for the time being.

"While this news is undoubtedly disheartening, we remain hopeful and optimistic about Derek's journey toward recovery. We have complete confidence in the expertise and dedication of his medical team, who will provide the best possible care and support throughout this process."

John Webb, Carte Blanche executive producer, in the statement, says "Derek has touched the lives of many throughout his remarkable career, and his unwavering spirit has been a source of inspiration for all. This was especially clear when, earlier this year, he was hospitalised with severe sepsis".

"Derek took enormous comfort from the thousands of messages he received during his recovery from sepsis. Following his cancer diagnosis, I know his resolve will be strengthened by the continued love and support of the people to whom he dedicated his working life. We join all of you in wishing strength and recovery to our patriarch, mentor, colleague, and friend."

Nomsa Philiso, MultiChoice Group CEO of general entertainment, says "M-Net would like to send a message of support and well-wishes to veteran investigative journalist and long-time Carte Blanche presenter Derek Watts".

"We hold him, his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers and wish him strength and courage as he fights this illness."

"The team at M-Net has the utmost respect and admiration for Derek and his commitment to the channel for the last 36 years. Derek's immense contribution to Carte Blanche forms the tapestry and legacy of the M-Net brand. We will continue to support him during this challenging time."

"During this challenging time, we kindly request that his privacy and that of his loved ones be respected, allowing him the space needed to focus on his recovery."

kykNET 11th Silwerskermfees: Film fest slate expands with TV premieres and CTICC award show categories

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET is expanding the content slate of its 11th Silwerskermfees to television and is set to premiere pilot episodes of new upcoming TV series while its awards show which is moving to the Cape Town International Conference Centre that is expanding to include categories for top TV productions..

Set for four days from 23 August in Camps Bay, the film festival organised by M-Net's Afrikaans channels division - and colloquially referred to as "Cannes in Cape Town" with a blue carpet rolled out at the Bay Hotel and Theatre on the Bay - is moving its awards show this year for the first time to the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) on 26 August.

Besides a new collection for 2023 of feature films and short films supported financially and upskilling-wise as part of kykNET's ongoing annual push to grow South Africa's film industry and to support video content creation in Afrikaans, kykNET's Silwerskerm film festival has expanded into documentary support.

Similar to the festival's existing short film mentoring project, the Silwerskermfees is now also supporting producers to craft documentaries. For the first time ever the film festival will premiere the pilot episodes of upcoming new TV series made for pay-TV and video streaming services in August. 

The CTICC-held awards show will also include TV categories for the first time alongside film, with the awards show which will be broadcast the following night, Sunday 27 August on kykNET (DStv 144). The nominees for, and the various TV categories, will be announced at the end of June.

The competing films included in the film division of this year's awards ceremony include the five feature films, 14 short films and six documentaries which will all premiere during the film festival.

The feature films include Hans Steek die Rubicon Oor, Die Tragiese Saak van Pamina Vermaak, Fankie en FelipéBlindelings and Old Righteous Blues.

The short films at this year's Silwerskermfees include Helmhart, Hier/daar, Die Swart Draak Ontwaak and animation and puppet work films including Straatrotte and Thrift tot die Dood

'n Doop chronicles the trauma of school initiation rites, with Dans dat die Biesies Bewe as well as Koors and Karen which are comedies. 

Volle Bors and As will premiere as dramatic short films, with the buzzy Een Saam tackling the subject of gender dysphoria. Werpsel is a thriller with Die Blokke putting a new spotlight on the gang violence in the Cape Flats.

The six short documentaries include Teater na die mense about the Cape Flats Players, the inspiring athlete profiles Langafstand and 'n Gids vir LouzanneCall of the Wild is a profile about a bling young woman's journey of discovery through nature.

Besmet looks at how the African lion is threatened by poisoning with the arresting Born Behind Bars about a pregnant woman getting a 10-year jail sentence.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Showmax 2.0: How MultiChoice will relaunch its streamer to battle Netflix with English Premier League, more global content and thousands of Comcast engineers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice plans to have a big launch for what it calls "Showmax 2.0" - the new version of its video streaming service - with the pay-TV operator saying that the Comcast-NBCUniversal-Peacock partnership will not just increase Showmax's international content offering but also boost its projected subscriber numbers by up to three times it would have been by 2032.

MultiChoice plans to unveil its relaunched and retooled second version of Showmax by the end of March 2024 in its big quest to take on Netflix.

MultiChoice and Comcast plan to jointly battle Netflix as the leading video streamer in South Africa and across the African continent by adding premium English Premier League (EPL) content, more international shows, foreign movies and more global content - while making use of Comcast's army of thousands of engineers who will work to improve the capabilities and user experience of the video streaming service that will have a Peacock underbuilt.

Throwing down the gauntlet, for the first time for a streaming service in Africa will carry English Premier League (EPL) content when the wrapping is taken off the improved and shinier "Showmax 2.0" streamer in a year's time.

During the pay-TV operator's first Capital Markets Day which was held virtually, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said that "linear TV still represents an attractive growth opportunity - especially in the rest of Africa".

He said that MultiChoice will continue to grow its traditional DStv linear pay-TV business by bringing subscribers localised and sports content but that the company is stepping up its "ambitions in streaming".

In March MultiChoice announced that it's joining with Comcast - its NBCUniversal division running its Peacock streamer, as well as Sky in the United Kingdom - to redevelop and relaunch its Showmax streamer.

While Peacock is much smaller than global video streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+; MultiChoice - together with Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky - wants to frontload and reload Showmax to take on the global streaming players who have encroached on its turf.

With MultiChoice's turbo-boosted Showmax, the plan is for Showmax 2.0 to gobble up whatever subscribers are available in South Africa and across Africa before the Netflixes of the world are "fully deployed" on the continent - in MultiChoice and Comcast's words.

"We needed a technology solution that matched our ambitions and could help us to scale as fast as the market grows," Calvo Mawela said.

Netflix, Showmax and Disney+
There is a huge opportunity for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) in Africa," Yolisa Phahle, Showmax and connected video CEO at MultiChoice, said during Wednesday's event.

Showmax wants to use regionalised local productions across various African countries to drive subscriber growth and increase scale, as it fights to increase its growth curve which has ebbed somewhat and is lower than Netflix which is in first place in sub-Saharan Africa.

Yolisa Phahle shared a chart showing subscriber growth of the major over-the-top (OTT) streaming services in sub-Saharan Africa between December 2020 and December 2022 - but without any numbers or scale.

According to the chart, Netflix is number one in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with Showmax in second place and with a slower growth curve - with Disney+ that suddenly jumped into third place with a sharp growth spike since its launch in South Africa. 

At the bottom of the pile are other players like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, VIU and iRoko.

It should be noted that MultiChoice declines to make specific Showmax subscriber numbers available and only provides percentages not attached to scale. Although they're Showmax's biggest two rivals, MultiChoice now also carries both Netflix and Disney+ on its DStv Explora Ultra decoder as OTT services.

Speaking about what MultiChoice is observing in the fast-changing operational setup of American streaming services, Yolisa Phahle said Hollywood studios are having a rethink and scaling back their massive financial investments after a few years of huge content investment to try and fuel subscriber growth and to scale up streaming services.

"What we're seeing is that several streaming providers, Disney for example and more recently Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO seem to be recalibrating their strategy to speed up profitability. Some of the other issues impacting the industry are the need to continually improve the tech and the platform experience," she said.

"Demanding live sport on SVOD is actually becoming the norm. This is something we've been focusing our Showmax Pro offering on. Also, ad-supported offerings are gaining traction, especially under younger viewers."

"The good news in all of this is that Africa is seen as the final frontier of SVOD growth globally," Yolisa Phahle said.

Boost: Three times more Showmax subscribers
MultiChoice says NBCUniversal's scaleable Peacock streaming platform will "deliver significant benefits to Showmax".

"We'll have access to their best-in-class tech," said Yolisa Phahle. 

Because of the combined Comcast-MultiChoice partnership, MultiChoice has revised its Showmax subscriber projections and now expects the subscriber numbers of Showmax 2.0 to be three times more by 2032 than if it continued Showmax alone. 

Andrea Zappia who is exiting this month as Sky's executive vice president and CEO for new markets and business, said that Showmax 2.0 will be "launching at the right time" since "the global players are not fully deployed yet into the continent".

Yolisa Phahle said "streaming will take off. There's no going back. It's is the future and we will ride into the future with the right partner".

"In Comcast we found an incredible platform," she said, noting that "they have an engineering team of thousands who will continually be working to improve the capability of the platform to make it a wonderful place for the consumer to find our great content."

Boost in international content, EPL on Showmax
About Showmax's limited international content library, MultiChoice said the partnership with Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky will boost the library of Showmax 2.0's global shows.

"Up until this point we were spending most of our time and effort really promoting the incredible local content because that is what brings us subscribers," Yolisa Phahle said.

"The research we've been doing over the last 12 months with Comcast has also shown that audiences want fantastic international programming. Now, with this guarantee of this content, we will be relaunching Showmax and marketing movies, marketing international series. We've also got great kids programming coming through."

"All of the questions about why are we not talking more about international content will be addressed and not only will we have NBCUniversal programming but HBO, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony ... In fact, if you think about it, we will have international content first and exclusively on Showmax from 80% of the world's biggest international producers. It's going to be an incredible line-up: local, sports, and international content," Yolisa Phahle said.

English Premier League (EPL) content will be placed for the first time on Showmax 2.0 as well, she revealed.

"There will be a big launch," Yolisa Phahle said. "We're aiming that Showmax 2.0 is out there before the end of March 2024. But right now we are producing content, we are acquiring content, we are thinking about the packaging and the pricing."

"Sub-Saharan Africa is at the beginning of its streaming journey. It's a vast market and we are here with a strategy which is well differentiated from our competitors."