Friday, March 15, 2024

How just 3 SABC shows lost almost 3 million viewers last week.

by Thinus Ferreira

Drastic moves between TV channels and timeslot changes saw just three locally-produced SABC programmes lose close to a combined three million viewers on Monday last week with ad buyers saying the struggling public broadcaster will pay the price when it's forced to cut advertising rates.

Last week Monday was the day the SABC implemented a drastic change: Moving shows on SABC1 later and to SABC2, removing Afrikaans shows from SABC2 and shunting the Afrikaans TV news bulletin that was at 18:30 to the much later timeslot of 20:30 on SABC3 with the channel that has much more limited transmission reach.

The SABC decided to move the youth soap Skeem Saam to a later timeslot on SABC1 at 19:30 where the show itself lost viewers. 

The SABC filled its successful 18:30 timeslot on SABC1 where Skeem Saam used to air, with a rebroadcast in early primetime of old episodes of a series called The Executives

This caused SABC1's 18:30 timeslot to abruptly lose over 2.1 million viewers last week Monday, plummeting to just 1.87 million viewers in the timeslot.

The second season of the Primedia Studios produced Deal or No Deal SA that was on SABC1 got shunted to SABC2 at 18:30 where the show itself lost over 1.5 million viewers last Monday.

The Afrikaans TV news bulletin was moved to SABC3 where this bulletin lost almost 75% of its viewers on Monday. The move also meant the end of the longtime Afrikaans block on SABC2 following the cancellation of the long-running 7de Laan which wasn't replaced with a new show despite promises from the SABC to do so.

On Monday evening, Skeem Saam produced by Peu Communications, which reached a high of 4.04 million viewers on SABC1 in February in its 18:30 timeslot last month plunged to 3.2 million viewers in its 19:30 timeslot up against Scandal! on

While Skeem Saam with its 3.2 million viewers won the 19:30 timeslot over's Scandal!, Skeem Saam as a show itself lost around 840 000 viewers between 20 February and last Monday's timeslot change.

According to ratings data from the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA), Deal or No Deal SA which had a high of 1.92 million viewers on SABC1 last month on 19 February, lost a whopping 1.5 million viewers last Monday when it only managed to get 414 556 viewers on SABC2 in the 18:30 timeslot. 

It means Primedia Studios and the SABC lost a whopping 78.4% of the specific show audience that used to watch Deal or No Deal SA on SABC1 and didn't tune in for it last Monday on SABC2. Primedia Studios and the SABC share revenue from the show and will now earn less money from it on SABC2 than what it made on SABC1.

The Afrikaans TV news bulletin that reached a high of 621 215 viewers on SABC2 in February on SABC2 as one of the channel's most-watched shows, plunged to just 163 663 viewers on SABC3 last Monday night according to BRCSA viewership data.

It means that this TV news bulletin shed a massive 457 552 viewers and almost three-quarters (73.6%) of its dedicated audience which evaporated in the channel switch from SABC2 to the much smaller SABC3.

Combined, just these three TV programmes - Skeem Saam, Deal or no Deal SA and the Afrikaans TV news - lost 2.8 million SABC viewers that used to watch these three specific shows in February and on last Monday no longer did so.

Timeslot-wise the SABC gained 1.3 million viewers on SABC1 at 19:30 last Monday but lost 2.1 million viewers on SABC1 at 18:30.

Advertisers follow audiences and audiences follow - or unfollow - shows.

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, in response to a media query, says "The SABC would like to reiterate that the video entertainment division continuously engages on various strategies to improve the content offering and which may result in programming shifts, involving moving shows to other channels".

"The shifts are informed by detailed insights including consideration of the SABC financial sustainability. In line with our mandate, the delivery of the Afrikaans content remains a key deliverable for the SABC and will not be compromised."

"In terms of the performance of the network, the SABC's goal is to have optimal performance and experience audience growth. The change has only been in effect for a week, and we need to review at least a month to see how the changes affect the schedule."

The SABC said that at 18:30 where The Executives is running in early primetime as a rebroadcast instead of original content "the drama is currently performing at 1.4 million viewers on average".

"Skeem Saam at 19:30 has increased the slot and has achieved an average of 3.2 million viewers with the launch. SABC1 has maintained its viewership. Deal or No Deal SA on SABC2 replaced die Nuus at 18:30 and is currently performing at 400 000 on average, which means that the slot has maintained as die Nuus on SABC2 performed around the same average."

"On SABC3 at 20:30, previously occupied by a variety of content (Unfiltered, Conflict Zone, Global 3000, Focus on Europe and AFCON – SA vs Nigeria) performed at an average of 200 000 viewers is currently performing at an average of 140 000 viewers."

'SABC will lose ad money'
The SABC which is already in a financial struggle will definitely start to lose millions of rand in potential ad revenue from advertisers due to the latest show, channel and timeslot changes, a highly-experienced ad placement executive told TVwithThinus.  

The person who doesn't want to be named since they place TV commercials and buy ads across broadcasters including SABC inventory and doesn't want to damage relationships with the broadcaster, says if the SABC loses audience and ratings, it undoubtedly loses ad income.

"Ads are bought on a cost-per-point (CPP) basis. For example, let's say you pay R100 for a show with a 20 rating. That's R5 per ratings and your CPP is R5."

"The moment you start losing viewers - instead of 20, you suddenly have a 10 rating - half of the viewers. Instead of paying R5, you're effectively asked to now pay R10 per rating," the person explains.

"When the SABC loses viewers, they don't change the ad rates - they keep it the same, meaning the SABC becomes less competitive and starts to lose money since the advertiser decides to rather place the ad or buy the ad space elsewhere."

"What they then have to do the next month is to adjust the ad rate. We as advertisers still just want to pay R5 per rating. In order to try and remain competitive, the SABC is then forced to also cut the ad rate in half if they want me to keep advertising with them."

"The result is that now I'm only paying R50 for fewer viewers, instead of R100 like before, which means that the SABC gets less ad  revenue from the advertiser."