Sunday World - - Front Page - AB­DUL MILAZI

WHEN Baset­sana Kumalo’s pro­duc­tion com­pany Con­nect TV came up with the Our

Per­fect Wed­ding re­al­ity show, they had no idea it would be a barn­burner.

“The se­cret is love. The show seeks to cel­e­brate love, which is per­fect for all of us in our own dif­fer­ent ways,” Kumalo says.

“Whether we ad­mit it or not, we are all suck­ers for happy end­ings.”

The show has be­come Mzansi’s favourite and dis­placed soapie drama Isi­baya in De­cem­ber from the num­ber one spot on the Mzansi Magic chan­nel.

It was only knocked off its perch last month by Con­nie and Shona Ferguson’s new drama series Igazi.

Early last year, Our Per­fect Wed­ding oc­cu­pied third spot on Mzansi Magic with a viewership of 757 000 be­hind Rockville with 823 000 and Isi­baya hold­ing top spot with 856 000.

But by De­cem­ber, Our Per­fect Wed­ding’s viewership had shot up to a mil­lion view­ers, while Isi­Baya dropped to 632 000 fol­lowed by Date My Fam­ily with 538 000. Last month, Igazi’s viewership came in at

1.28 mil­lion against Our Per­fect Wed­ding’s 1.22 mil­lion and Isi­Baya at 1.02 mil­lion.

But Kumalo is not get­ting car­ried away, say­ing one is as good as one’s last episode in the TV in­dus­try.

“The idea came about in col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the chan­nel and our con­tent team at Con­nect TV,” Kumalo says. “It was part of the strat­egy to bring more lo­cal pro­gram­ming to the pay TV en­vi­ron­ment through Mzansi Magic chan­nels.”

She says en­ter­tain­ment re­al­ity TV, as a genre, was al­ways rel­e­gated to in­ter­na­tional for­mats adapted for lo­cal au­di­ences. But Our Per­fect Wed­ding and Bootcamp Mzansi (for­merly Ka­belo ’ s Bootcamp) cre­ated a new space that saw the re­al­ity genre as an area to grow au­di­ences.

“As with any new for­mat, one has to go with one’s ‘ TV gut’ and cre­ate the best pos­si­ble prod­uct,” she says.

“We con­tin­u­ously eval­u­ate this for­mat and en­sure that it has longevity.”

The show has be­come a phe­nom­e­non within so­cial media and TV rat­ings, and Kumalo says this is be­cause view­ers want to own the con­tent and en­gage with it in a “very per­sonal” way.

“Our key learn­ings from hav­ing cre­ated this for­mat are price­less,” Kumalo says.

“Things like cul­tural au­then­tic­ity and a re­spect for the peo­ple’s per­spec­tive are one of the many lessons we’ve learnt.”

Kumalo says the show’s win­ning for­mula is that it is a real re­flec­tion of cur­rent so­ci­ety, and be­cause peo­ple are able to iden­tify with the char­ac­ters in a nat­u­ral way.

“We have also come to re­alise that peo­ple love happy end­ings, es­pe­cially ones where love is in­volved,” Kumalo says. “Of­ten times, the jour­ney lead­ing up to the big day is never that smooth, but the mere fact that love wins in the end, that’s what view­ers re­late to.”

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