Recession, competition knock SABC viewership

2012-04-07 17:29

Increased competition, existing channels expanding their offerings and the 2009 world economic meltdown are to blame for a decline in SABC TV viewership.

Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago admitted the national broadcaster has seen “slight declines” in its audience due to the changing media landscape.

He said new players had entered the market and targeted the SABC’s audience stronghold LSM (living standards measure) five to eight.

The LSM is a marketing tool which divides the population into 10 groups – one is the lowest and 10 the highest – using criteria including their ownership of vehicles, major appliances and DStv.

A review seen by City Press says the public broadcaster’s sole commercial channel, SABC3, has been “underperforming in all respects”, with “declining audiences, declining revenue and brand integrity erosion”.

SABC bosses are expected to submit the channel’s turnaround strategy, which they hope will restore its competitiveness, to the public broadcaster’s board for approval.

The channel’s turnaround strategy will form part of SABC’s 2012-2015 corporate plan to be presented in Parliament soon.

SABC3’s 7pm English news bulletin was overtaken by e.tv in 2006 and has never recovered. Last month, SABC3 news had 928 099 viewers while e.tv had 2 546 093.

SABC2’s 7pm Afrikaans news bulletin averaged 2 020 244 viewers.

The most watched news bulletin in South Africa remains SABC1’s isiXhosa/isiZulu bulletin with 3 181 908 viewers last month.

The public broadcaster is also cutting its content acquisition budget and wants to decrease it by R336 million by next March.

In the last financial year, the SABC spent R1.6 billion of its R2 billion content acquisition budget which the review said was “worrying because of the impact the quality of the content has on attracting audiences.”

Analysing dwindling viewership figures between November and December, the SABC blamed “end of year examinations and general holiday frivolities” for the decline.

The public broadcaster claimed all TV viewership fell by almost a million viewers in December.

However, this was not the case with e.tv, which increased its viewership from 2 371 989 in November to 2 546 093 in February for its 7pm prime-time English news bulletin.

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