Cape Town – The struggling SABC continues to lose millions of viewers with SABC2 and SABC3 again seeing ratings and audience share losses in July.
Another TV shock comes as all the new celebrity-driven shows on public and pay-TV fail to attract SA viewers - from David Tlale's The Intern SA, Tumi Morake's #WTFTumi and even Being Bonang.
July's just-released audience ratings (AR) data shows that the struggling SABC continues to lose millions of viewers. Only SABC1 managed to keep its audience share stable while the troubled SABC2 and SABC3 continued their tumble and again shed eyeballs in July.
July is also the month that the SABC finally managed to kill The Bold and the Beautiful.
After shoddy treatment and ongoing disastrous timeslot changes for the once-popular American soap, the show suffered month-on-month viewership plunges and is now no longer on the already low-rated SABC3's list of its most watched shows.
Viewers are also not bothering to watch David Tlale's The Intern SA and Tumi Morake's talk show on SABC3 that are both rating duds, together with possibly the biggest surprise of all: Bonang Matheba's Being Bonang.
Her reality show isn’t managing to pull significant viewers to VUZU AMP.
Elsewhere the SABC1 weekday soap Uzalo reached its highest viewership yet, e.tv keeps doing well, and the 13th season of Idols is again a ratings hit showing that the reality singing competition has several more seasons of life left.
(Uzalo! Photo: Facebook)
While SABC1's overall viewership remained stable during July, the KwaMashu-set weekday soap Uzalo on the channel continued its ratings surge, luring its biggest audience yet in July since the start of the soap.
In July Uzalo continued its rise as South Africa's most watched TV show with a series high rating of 8.896 million viewers (26.4 AR) and a whopping 70.6% share for its most watched episode.
It managed to further widen the slow-growing gap between Generations - The Legacy in second place with 8.56 million viewers (25.4 AR / 68.2 share) that also grew its audience.
Over-achiever Skeem Saam marginally improved its strong performance, growing to 7.29 million viewers for its most watched episode.
Evenly maintaining their viewers were both the Xhosa (4.0 million) and Zulu (4.2 million) TV news bulletins and Now or Never (3.6 million), while Selimathunzi was slightly off with 3.91 million viewers.
Growing for the third consecutive month was Throwback Thursday to 4.03 million viewers. Khumbul' Ekhaya improved back to 3.4 from a low 3 million viewers.
Down and losing viewers were Mina Nawe (3.82 million), Live Amp (3.6 million), Ithuba Lokugcina (3.7 million) and Stumbo Stomp (3.64 million) while Friends Like These plunged from its 3.6 million viewers just a few months ago to 3.17 million at most in July.
(Muvhango. Photo: Facebook)
SABC2 continues its journey on the ratings train to trouble.
While nowhere near the ratings disaster of SABC3, SABC2's slow but ongoing viewership erosion should be extremely worrisome for SABC TV executives who haven't been able to stem the bleeding.
Also problematic is that, similar to SABC3, a lot of the newly commissioned local shows on SABC2 turned out to be rating flops, failing to find traction with viewers.
In July Muvhango remained the most watched show on SABC2 with 5.48 million viewers (16.3 AR / 51.6 share) and although up from June, it's far off from earlier months this year when it lured 6.4 million.
Since April Muvhango has lost almost a million viewers - and that's for SABC2's top show.
In July Vodacom Siyakha fell from 3.9 to 3.52 million viewers while the Live Lotto Draw lost over a million viewers from 4.5 to 3.3 million viewers.
Also down was Speak Out (2.12 to 2.07 million) and Wipeout USA (1.37 to 1.31 million). (Interestingly Wipeout USA is also on e.tv where it lured 2.11 million viewers – almost double – that indicates what is actually possible for a show like this ratings wise.)
Thola remained flat at 1.64 million from 1.65 in June.
Meanwhile Thursdays continue to kill the once-popular Noot vir Noot. The Afrikaans music competition literally has lost half its total audience and SABC2 share.
In July it scraped out 1.25 million viewers (10.6% share) compared to the 2.12 million viewers and 20.7% share it brought to SABC2 in January when the show was still in its Friday night timeslot before the bad move.
The Afrikaans soap 7de Laan has recovered somewhat from its disastrous ratings levels and at 2.63 million viewers and a 26.5% is almost back at its 2.78 million of January after its ratings took a shocking months' long plunge.
Marginally up on SABC2 was telenovela Keeping Score (1.74 to 2.04 million), Ga Re Dumele (1.22 to 1.54 million) and rebroadcast Vetkoekpaleis (1.28 to 1.4 million).
The Afrikaans TV news bulletin bounced back a bit to 1.48 million from 1.34 in June and the Sotho/Tswana TV news at 1.31 million in July seems to be recovering although its far off from its 1.8 million viewers it had when 2017 began.
(Tumi Morake. Photo: Supplied)
With ongoing anaemic ratings, July will go down as the historic month the SABC finally killed off the American soap The Bold and the Beautiful while more viewers chose to watch a repeat of the old Vetkoekpaleis than a lot of the channel's costly new local shows.
While Bold was a top performer on SABC3 for several years since its move from SABC1, July is the month the public broadcaster finally killed it through multiple and steadily worsening timeslots until its audience finally abandoned the Forresters.
On SABC3 Bold's ratings dramatically plunged from 1.05 million in January 2017 to 890 100 (February), 665 445 (March), 469 814 (April), 585 828 (May) and 465 067 (June) to entirely dropping off SABC3's list of 20 most watched shows in July.
Nothing else signifies more SABC3's ongoing ratings and programming woes than what happened with Bold and American sister soap Days of Our Lives now jumping to e.tv.
Before the disastrous tampering, both consistently delivered top-rated and strong viewership to SABC3 in their stable timeslots and with audiences that advertisers knew and could count on.
The big problem is that no new shows that are trusted and consistent performers on every weekday replaced them after the SABC decided that it wanted to kill off Days and Bold and with advertisers who are reluctant to spend money on inconsistent audiences.
With barely there viewership it’s no longer possible to call anything on SABC3 a "hit", although weekday local soap Isidingo is the channel's most watched show, slightly increasing its viewership from 1.45 to 1.6 million in July.
Every local new show on SABC3 is a costly ratings disaster, with David Tlale's flopped design competition The Intern SA, Khanyi Mbau's The Scoop, China Diaries, #WTFTumi! and It's OK, We're Family that all started in July and failed to attract any significant audiences. The weak performance of these shows are similar to SABC3's last few months' first, second and third batches of local programming that was rolled out but failed to stick.
Literally not one of SABC3's crop of new shows manages to lure enough viewers except for local talk show Real Talk with Anele managing 479 698 viewers for its most watched episode in July and Dinner Date with 466 271 viewers.
In July SABC3 viewers continued to watch Top Billing (422 400), the English TV news bulletin (608 162), the end of Survivor San Juan Del Sur (561 416) and the start of Survivor: Worlds Apart (514 452), and The Big Bang Theory (448 329).
(WWE Germany Live. Photo: Getty Images)
The red letter channel keeps growing – very likely because of the SABC's woes as more viewers are switching over to the commercial free-to-air channel.
Weekday soap Scandal! grew to its second highest viewership this year (since March) with 4.65 million viewers in July with sister soap Rhythm City stable at 3.13 million viewers, while local telenovelas Broken Vows and Harvest remain ratings disappointments and continue to be no-shows on e.tv's top 20 most watched list.
e.tv decided to end it but WWE Raw pulled 2.71 million in its swansong with WWE SmackDown going out with 1.9 million viewers.
e.tv continues to do incredibly well with a spread of quality movies and local and international series.
The channel cornered over 2.1 million and more viewers each for the three Hangover movies on three July Sundays, 2.24 million viewers for The Incredibles, 2 million viewers each for Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc and a massive 2.9 million for Cars.
Another 2.1 million watched the reality show Mahadi-Lobola with Lip Sync Battle Africa (1.91 million), Z'Bondiwe (1.9 million) and American comedy Modern Family (1.72 million) all firm rating hits.
(The Idols SA judges. Photo: Idols SA)
On pay-TV Idols roared back as a TV hit, with the start of the 13th season on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) hitting 1.57 million viewers on MultiChoice's DStv.
With that Idols gaining a second place behind perennial top-achiever Our Perfect Wedding (also on Mzansi Magic) further growing its audience from 1.49 to 1.84 million viewers.
New Sunday night grit-drama iNumber Number (also on Mzansi Magic) drew 1.36 million viewers to secure the top 3rd place on DStv's most watched list, followed by Igazi that dropped slightly from 1.44 to 1.42 million viewers.
Mzansi Magic royalty keeps rounding out the top shows on MultiChoice's platform with The Queen (1.13 million), Isibaya (1.01 million), Date My Family (1.04 million), Isikizi (793 700), Isithunzi (767 490), and Isithembiso (729 626) that round out the top 11 most watched shows on DStv.
M-Net likely made a mistake by placing Bonang Matheba's new reality show Being Bonang on VUZU AMP (DStv 103) instead of on Mzansi Magic.
Being Bonang on VUZU AMP failed to lure significant viewers following its debut in mid-July, while reality show Living the Dream with Somizi on Mzansi Magic managed 559 373 viewers and a 15th place on DStv's most watched list for July.
Thinus Ferreira is a South African TV expert and freelance TV writer for Channel24. The above information was collected from the South African TV July audience ratings (AR) data.