Rooting for e.tv as SABC fails to think out of the box
INDEPENDENT e.tv channel is rubbing SABC noses into the ground – and Hlaudi Motsoeneng opened the door wide for them.
Not only has it snatched away the much followed series, The Fixer, but from September 4, soapie Days of Our Lives will find a new home on e.tv early prime time on weekdays at 5.30pm after the SABC decided to drop it, again.
This will clash with 7de Laan on SABC2 which unfortunately, I will skip after being a loyal viewer for years. It has degenerated into preaching on current topics like abuse against women, poverty and missing children, subjects all commented on regularly in-depth on talk shows and discussion panels.
I acknowledge the topics are important, refer to them if you must, but don’t use the characters to lecture us. Soapies are not meant to be quasi documentaries and certainly not didactic.
To cap the e.tv takeover, they are screening some of the latest movies, as opposed to repeats of old films on all SABC channels.
But back to Days of Our Lives.
Last year, under Motsoeneng’s edict demanding 90% local content on TV, Days was the first to be banned and only reinstated after a public outcry – at the impossible time of 11.30pm.
To hell with the fact that the show drew more than a million viewers daily in its late afternoon time slot, bringing in much needed revenue in advertising for the public broadcaster but also pushing up its viewership.
In the latest ratings I have seen, for March or April this year, SABC viewership fell to an all-time low of 45% of the TV pie and lost more than R1 billion in three months. In fact, it has been admitted that the broadcaster is in crisis. e.tv was quick to capitalise and has introduced excellent prime time overseas series for two hours, starting at 8.30pm daily, while still accommodating good locally produced material.
Making its scheduling more attractive reportedly has pushed e.tv’s slice of the TV pie up by 2% to about 24%. And all because it took notice of what viewers wanted.
Now another top local soapie, Muvhango, on SABC2 is being threatened by short-sightedness. Muvhango has more than 8 million viewers; it is not clear whether the figure includes the repeats and the omnibus.
I got locked into the Venda-language series several years ago and was so impressed by its consistently interesting storyline, highly experienced ensemble cast, stunning wardrobe and professional filming and directing that I recommended friends to give it a shot.
The subtitles enabled those who could not follow Venda, to become diehard followers.
In fact, at my stomping ground, Blairgowrie Plaza in Randburg, you could say we have a Muvhango club going, each day the 15 or 20 of us who avidly follow the soapie, discuss the plot’s development, guessing what will unfold next, hating this character, loving that one…
Now, as the show celebrates its 20th birthday, the SABC has decided to follow the nightly current season’s episode with a rerun of the launch of the soapie on a Friday, in the original Venda language sound track. No English subtitles, so that the many who cannot speak or understand Venda are left out – cut off from the show’s family tree, as it were.
Our little Muvhango club comprising blacks from other provinces, and English speakers and immigrants from outside South Africa resent being left out. Some have decided to express their anger by boycotting Muvhango.
The public broadcaster failed to take into consideration how the different channels have changed over the years, with for example SABC3 no longer being the channel devoted to the use of English only.
This has led to channel hopping as viewers look for what interests them most.
I have serious doubts that current SABC3 decision-makers will be able to turn the channel around. They are the same people whose programming brought the channel crashing.
They seem unable to think out of the box and, judging from promos for upcoming shows, we are in for yet more reality shows, talk shows (like Trending which tends to be raucously not amusing,oodles of offbeat comedy, games shows and yet more cooking and fashion.
And oh spare us, another typically bitchy Survivor and shown-to-death Big Bang Theory and The Office.
Yawn… nothing new or original. It was precisely this unhappy mix which sank the channel in the first place.
On the subject of talk shows, when the Real Talk with Anele began, I damned her based on one interview.
She has proved me wrong. Anele, you are one of the best.
I am rooting for you e.tv, no more having to watch free older movies and older British and US series on my tablet night after night. Randburg