Johannesburg – While it is still linear TV ratings that drive renewal or cancellation of shows, in the new era of convergence between TV and social media, the size and impact of voting and people talking about it for a show like Idols, has become as important as the ratings, M-Net says.
The 13th season of Idols, the FremantleMedia format show produced by [SIC] Entertainment, remains a South African television juggernaut – not just maintaining its ratings lead on the list of most-watched shows on pay-TV in the country but also showing immense growth in both social media engagement between viewers and the show, and huge growth in the number of votes cast.
What it means is that the so-called “stickiness” of Idols continues to increase and grow.
Through social media platforms, people using “second screens” – smartphones, tablets and other devices – while they’re watching the show on the “first screen”, TV, Idols not just manages to lure more and more people but also keeps them watching and engaging.
It means that viewers are not just watching Idols, they’re engaging with the brands of Idols, Mzansi Magic, DStv and the show’s sponsors – which is exactly what M-Net, that runs the Mzansi Magic channel, wants.
Idols lured over a million viewers for its just-concluded 13th season and has been renewed for a 14th season with nationwide auditions starting on 28 January 2018, is far from cresting as far as linear and catch-up TV ratings are concerned.
Idols remains not just one of the most watched shows on Mzansi Magic. In terms of linear ratings and the number of DStv subscribers actually watching, makes it one of the most watched shows on MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay-TV platform overall.
A new audience and demographic
M-Net’s decision to do a slow transition of Idols from M-Net (DStv 101) to Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) by first doing a few jointly simulcast seasons of Idols on both channels before the reality singing show became a Mzansi Magic only show, has paid off extremely well in targeting a brand new audience and demographic.
The move also came at exactly the same time as extremely fast consumer growth and uptake in mobile and smartphone use, as well as data and social media app usage in South Africa – something that is giving already successful reality TV shows like Idols a whole new and massive additional adrenalin injection.
The 13th season of Idols once again smashed voting records – another indication that Idols isn’t going away from South African television soon. Over 30 million votes were cast last week by viewers before this past Sunday’s Idols season finale – a new record.
Over the course of the 13th season, over 98 million votes were cast – yet another voting record for Idols and Mzansi Magic. Co-executive producer ProVerb says he expects the upcoming 14th season of Idols to surpass 100 million votes.
Still a popular show
Channel24 asked Reneilwe Sema, M-Net director of local entertainment channels, what factor the social media interaction – the massive voting statistics for instance, play alongside the actual TV ratings in a show such as Idols and when it comes to renewing it for another season.
“The social voting element is key because it does prove the popularity of Idols," says Sema.
"The more engagement you have, the more popular the show is.”
“So we look forward every week to see what the numbers are that come in. And the more people who vote – it means the more popular the competition is, the more intense the competition is, the more engagement there is."
"It's very important to us,” says Reneilwe Sema. “And besides the ratings the social media interaction is important as well because it means the audience is engaging with the show on a weekly basis."
"To track the consumers and what they are saying about the show, is very important to us."