SABC set to bulldoze SABC3 schedule

Cape Town – The SABC is set to bulldoze the schedule of SABC3 in boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s new decree to banish all international shows and films.

But with less than a month to go until July, the public broadcaster isn’t telling viewers or advertisers what hit shows will be culled.

The SABC’s chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced at the SABC’s headquarters in Auckland Park on Tuesday a new edict of 90% local content for the SABC’s TV channels – that will come into effect from June starting with a dramatic reshaping of SABC3 with 80% local content.

The SABC didn’t provide a new SABC3 schedule or explained exactly how expensive new local content will be paid for and was silent on what new local programming will be added and what it will replace.

It’s also not clear why the SABC is starting its local content gamble with SABC3 – the broadcaster’s only commercial TV channel that’s supposed to be an ad and sponsorship revenue driver for the broadcaster.

Motsoeneng said he now helps to approve shows himself to help cut through SABC backlog. "When you come to me I will respond now. If you impress me it's 'yes'. If not, it's 'no' and you should know not to come back," Hlaudi Motsoeneng said.

‘They should walk like me and talk like me’

"The team that I work with, they should walk like me and talk like me – that is what I am expecting from them,” said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"That is how I run the organisation, because we need to sing one song at the SABC and that song should be sung by everybody within the organisation. And we're not apologetic about it."

Motsoeneng told producers that "I'm also aware some of people are taking chance. You need to give us quality content.You need to give us content that we able to attract an audience. And if we don't attract audience there's no reason why we should keep such content on our platform."

"Make sure when you do business with us, you give us quality. But it's also important that you have Venda dramas, soapies and so on and so on. Afrikaans also. And other different languages."

"When we think, we think about English. When we talk we talk English. I don't understand why most people will write dramas and soapies in English. But I think we have to be proud about our own African languages."

‘Getting rid of what’s no longer working for SABC3’

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said "We have given instructions. The how is not my business. From July 1 we should see a different SABC. I think it's achievable. We are going to get rid of content that is no longer working for SABC3. There is no way that it can't happen, it's happening".

The international content on SABC3 is ironically what is working for the channel – dominating in the viewership ratings race while local shows, although in better primetime slots, struggle to get more viewers.

Viewers have no idea whether they’re losing their soaps – The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives that’s part of the most watched content on the channel – or popular international shows ranging from Survivor to The Mentalist.

Advertisers and ad agencies who book slots and ad buys and who do so at least a month in advance are likewise in the dark about SABC3’s July schedule, not knowing what will be shown during what timeslot. Because advertisers buy specific audiences, it’s impossible to place ads not knowing what will show and what audience segment it will reach.

Looking at the top 20 most watched shows on SABC3 during April (May has not yet been released), soaps like Bold and Days are the most popular and most watched shows, with local soap Isidingo in second place.

Interestingly, 14 out of the top 20 most watched pieces of content on SABC3 in April were international content.

If the SABC3 cans Bold and Days, Isidingo that’s already in a better primetime spot will move to the number one place – but it won’t show a ratings increase. It will become number one with less viewers than what Bold pulls and the viewership figure and share is what determines advertising rates.

Put differently: international content like Bold, Days, Survivor, The Mentalist and foreign films on the SABC3 schedule actually “over-deliver” in terms of audiences given where’s its slotted and shown, while existing local content like High Rollers and Top Billing , already in plum timeslots, in a sense under-deliver. 

Adding more – and unknown – local content from emerging TV producers will not suddenly lift SABC3’s ratings in terms of the existing local content and the new local content. And it’s ratings that matters most for the SABC’s commercial TV channel, much more so than SABC1 and SABC2.

Here are the top 20 shows on SABC 3

1. The Bold and the Beautiful  1.57 million
2 .Isidingo 1.42 million
3. Days of Our Lives 1.05 million
4. News 1.02 million
5. Show White and the Huntsman 998 997
6. SABC3 wows Polokwane  994 608
7. Gourmet  930 451
8. Cricket: ENG vs West Indies 927 077
9. SABC3 filler 920 865
10. Contraband  823 741
11. Horton Foote's Trip to Bountiful 795 165
12. High Rollers 696 020
13. Take It All   658 684
14. Pastor Brown  658 884
15. Heaven's Fall   632 176
16. The Man with the Iron Fist 609 306
17. Survivor 581 469
18. The Mentalist 580 210
19. A Day Late and a Dollar Short 578 845
20. Top Billing 577 272

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