SABC slaughters Generations cow

2014-10-05 15:00

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The SABC is set to lose more than R140?million after putting its biggest soapie, Generations, on ice for two months.

Industry insiders have told City Press that the public broadcaster sells a 30-second advertising spot during the ­highly coveted 8pm weekday slot for R230?000.

The higher a show’s audience ratings, the more the broadcaster is able to charge for ads.

Two insiders, who spoke on condition of ­anonymity, said that typically a 30-minute soapie like Generations would shoot for 22 minutes – leaving eight minutes to sell to advertisers.

In those eight minutes, up to 16 adverts can be aired. That means Generations was, at its peak, earning the SABC close to R4?million an episode, about R18?million a week and R74?million a month – excluding repeats and the Saturday omnibus.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said it’s not a simple mathematical calculation.

“We spoke to the advertisers long before we made the changes so that they could make up their own mind. They understood when we told them that we had no choice but to change the programme because we did not have 16 actors.

What you need to understand is that some of these spots have been booked a long time in ­advance, so an advertiser won’t just take their money and go elsewhere for two months,” he said.

In the seven weeks since the actors’ drama ­began, the soapie’s weekly viewership has fluctuated between 8?million and 10?million an ­episode.

City Press has studied viewer rating statistics supplied by the SA Audience Research Foundation, which shows that viewership has ebbed and flowed since a strike by 16 of the show’s key ­actors and their subsequent sacking was ­announced in the middle of August.

The average for the following two weeks was about 8?million viewers a night – and then Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s call for a ­boycott of the show backfired.

On September 9, Vavi called on South Africans to turn off their TVs from September 15 to support the actors’ fight to get their jobs back.

“The campaign has to be taken to a new level,” he said ahead of the planned “switch off”. Instead, an average of 10?million people a night tuned in that week. The numbers were the highest since the strike began.

The figures for the show’s final episode, on the night of September 30, haven’t been released yet.

Now all eyes turn to the soapie’s temporary ­replacement, Skeem Saam. In the week before it shifted into Generations’ time slot, Skeem Saam was attracting about 4.9?million viewers a night at 6.30pm on weekdays.

One industry insider said the SABC was ­frantically making contingency plans to soften the predicted financial blow.

The broadcaster, the insider said, is reportedly offering substitution packages to advertisers who may be concerned about losing viewers.

But ­Kganyago said that the advertisers were not buying Generations, but the primetime slot – no matter what is playing.

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