MacGyver saves the SABC

2012-04-18 10:17
Thinus Ferriera
Cape Town – Anything remains possible with a Swiss army knife and a little bit of ingenuity.

In an amazing display of viewership traction Angus MacGyver is singlehandedly saving the SABC with a rebroadcast of MacGyver on SABC3, which is helping to drive a successful ratings gain for the public broadcaster's struggling TV channel.

MacGyver - almost 30 years old - is suddenly a massive viewership hit on SABC3 since the library title was recently reacquired by the broadcaster.

It started airing again on the SABC's only commercial TV channel since the end of February. The SABC first showed MacGyver 27 years ago on TV1 when the American action drama ran in America from the mid-eighties to early nineties.

It made the mullet-wearing Richard Dean Anderson a star - fighting everything from killer ants to his arch nemesis Murdock - with little more than a Swiss army knife.

Since re-airing MacGyver, the show has shot up in ratings, with only Isidingo - SABC3's local soap - and Days of Our Lives managing to get a bigger viewership on the channel.

Not in primetime

What makes MacGyver's viewership feat as a library title even more impressive, is the fact that the show is not broadcast in primetime, but at 12:00 daily when a much smaller potential TV audience is available.

It therefore makes it even harder for a show to pull a sizeable TV audience, let alone becoming a TV hit ranked 3rd on a channel's top 10 list.

MacGyver is more popular than anything else in all of SABC3's primetime line-up, including strong performers such as Top Billing, Survivor, Gossip Girl and reality show The Voice.

With a consistent 5.1 to 5.3 rating on TAMS over the past few weeks, a MacGyver episode pulls roughly 1.54 million viewers.

It's a welcome viewership uptick for the channel which lost The Oprah Winfrey Show when it concluded its 25th season last year - which was a stable and strong ratings grabber for SABC3.

SABC3 has surprisingly also heard from viewers who phoned the channel and told them they're rushing home during lunch time to now watch MacGyver.

SABC3 turnaround plan

The show's remarkable performance is good news for the channel which has to submit a special SABC3 Channel Turnaround Plan to parliament.

This turnaround plan forms part of the SABC's overall turnaround strategy.

That turnaround strategy includes an emphasis on the rebuilding of SABC3 as a TV channel specifically, following sliding viewership due to a lack of compelling content, erratic scheduling, waning brand quality perception and a steep drop in advertising income since 2009.

SABC3's acting channel head Ed Worster has made considerable improvements since he took over.

'MacGyver appealing'

The remarkable ratings strength of MacGyver is actually not surprising, according to television and popular culture expert Dr Nadia van der Merwe from the department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg.

"The story context and action-adventure genre of MacGyver is easily transferable even thirty years later - not like some programmes that are context specific," she said.

"Viewing of reruns are often associated with what I would like to call nostalgic viewing - in these cases the appeal of the programme can be linked to what we as viewers associate with the time when we first viewed the show".

"MacGyver's non-violent resolutions to problems might also be appealing to an audience who themselves are part of a violent society and would like to escape from that."

"SABC3 also successfully marketed the programme, bringing it to the attention of the larger SABC3 viewership," said Van der Merwe.

Also possibly driving viewership is time-shifted viewing, she said. "Although it is shown during the daytime, it could be recorded by some viewers to watch later."



  • Rvn - 2012-04-18 10:27

    I would so watch this if i didnt have work!

      Joe - 2012-04-18 15:39

      Classic response Rikesh , ahahhah

      dewaldmontgomery - 2012-04-18 17:45

      Brilliant Rikesh!

  • Derk - 2012-04-18 10:43

    they should re-run The World At War,Rich Man Poor Man and even Dallas

      Johan - 2012-04-18 11:22

      Another excellent series was about the first French motorized police unit which was broadcasted on SABC in the early 1980's as the Afrikaans dubbed "Tierbrigade".

      glen.e.huysamer - 2012-04-18 11:27

      Definitely Rich Man Poor Man, I reckon 'Falconetty' is the all time villain of villains, I remember as a youngster being scared s**&@less whenever he appeared on the box, it was a fantastic series.

  • wikus.schalkwyk - 2012-04-18 10:43

    Whats next? The A-Team?

  • Peter - 2012-04-18 10:50


  • Gogs Lombard - 2012-04-18 10:57

    SABC3 is really scraping the bottom of the barrel lately. Rerun after rerun. Movies are ancient history and move from SABC1 to SABC2 and then to SABC3. Programme content is pathetic. Would like to see a gender statistic on how many males vs females watch SABC3.

      Vaughan - 2012-04-19 13:29

      The channel is pretty much brankrupt, so its the only way to stay on air. And here the SABC wants to go digital, go figure...

  • Siegeknives - 2012-04-18 11:09

    Alright, we finally have a bright spark out there that realises, you don't need all the newest shows to have a good channel. I personally haven't watched TV in 5 years, but Mc Guyver I'd like to see again. There is a huge library of older content out there just waiting for new veiwers. Now all need to here is that they're bring back Saturday morning cartoons and I'm in. Keep thinking outside the box guys.

      Jill - 2012-04-18 11:31

      I sgree with your suggestion of the cartoons:) [would help to allieviate our stress i think). I would also love to see a re-run of "Murder, she wrote" and "Magnum, PI".

      Mark - 2012-04-19 16:00

      Its actually in the box!

  • Massey - 2012-04-18 11:21

    Now isn't it better to watch MacGyver that those idiotic game shows??

      Rodney - 2012-04-21 13:12

      for sure i love Mcyver

  • jeff.harcourt - 2012-04-18 11:22

    only reason isidingo has so much viewership is because its shoved down peoples throats on primetime . ridiculous

      Mike - 2012-04-18 11:38

      i cant stand these local productions, isidingo, scandal, rythm city, they all a load a cr@p.

      Dean - 2012-04-23 12:16

      Isidingo is OK. its not that bad. You wanna see bad, flick over to SABC2 at 6.30pm for that ridiculous shyte called 7th avenue (7de laan) what a load of crap that is... insipid acting, and storylines that are so far fetched, its unbelievable.

  • nkosinathi.gumbi - 2012-04-18 11:31

    Can't afford to buy new material, I guess all the money went to Clifford Motsepe... SMH.

  • Mike - 2012-04-18 11:36

    why cant they still make shows like that anymore? during the school holiday now young kids sat glued to the tv watching macgyver and mission impossible everyday, every other show i have to sit and monitor because of sex and violence etc, they have really cr@p cartoons aswell. One program i never missed years ago was 'sending vietnam',(english on radio2000 simulcast lol) who can remember that?

      Massey - 2012-04-18 11:48

      Oh "sending vietnam" was the best

      jbrandct - 2012-04-18 12:17

      I brought the "sending vietnam" dvs's, albeit the english version, which is called "tour of duty". Go to youtube and search "la linea" for a nice surprise (That cartoon of the white line dude that always seem to plunge through the floor at the end of an episode.)

      Jill - 2012-04-18 12:20

      Yes...I also listened to "Derrick" which was a German production, dubbed into Afrikaans and simulcast in English (Wow, are we old or what?!?) :)

      Joe - 2012-04-18 15:43

      @JILL - Oh my goodness , I remember Derrick. I feel old now. hahahahaha

      Rodney - 2012-04-21 13:14


  • annette.jost1 - 2012-04-18 11:44

    They should ANYTHING other than crap music and Open University at night

  • martyn.kilian - 2012-04-18 11:50

    Who is the SABC???

  • Samantha - 2012-04-18 12:01

    McGyver always saves the day- pls bring back the decent good series from the 80's and 90's and also the fabulous childrens shows, instead of the name calling stick figures and violence they show these days(apart from Ben 10 of course lol)-

      patrickflynn73 - 2012-04-19 13:01

      Bring back Willie Wallie for kids and Klopper Kasteel and Winnie the Pooh , Noddy and Rupert the Bear. The current kid shows are mostly violent and contain overtones of witchcraft (incl BEN 10 - sorry Samantha)

      Rodney - 2012-04-21 13:15

      yeah and Magnum P.I

  • Klipkop - 2012-04-18 12:02

    Man i am glad I have DStv. MacMullet once was enough for me thanks.

  • merushan - 2012-04-18 12:02

    Bring back F1 racing

      Vaughan - 2012-04-19 13:31

      You think the SABC can afford F1. Come one, they need to pay the salaries of all those "talented" members of their board.

  • William - 2012-04-18 12:53

    I reckon Orkney Snork nie!!! That was was a winner.

      Rodney - 2012-04-21 13:16

      yeah and Vetkoek Paleis

  • Guy - 2012-04-18 13:07

    Maybe all this TV license crap we have to pay maybe go to more up-to-date shows instead of old 30 year old shows if they want to up their viewership, SABC has terrible programs, 3 channels of nothing, no wonder their viewership is bad, even survivor is like 5/6 seasons out of date...

  • Denis - 2012-04-18 13:10

    If this is true then it indicates how much of everything else is crap. Also all these old programmes had no advert breaks, which where only shown at the start and end!!!! It's true, those where the days!

  • Stille - 2012-04-18 13:12


  • Hemant - 2012-04-18 13:22

    Macguyver any day, over those boring reality shows

  • Ben - 2012-04-18 13:26

    Says a lot about the programming of a station when a 30 year old series "saves" it...

  • Justin - 2012-04-18 13:38

    SABC3? what's that? :)

  • Piet - 2012-04-18 13:42

    I am going to send the SABC my used cheque that I paid my license with last year. Think that is fair!!

      Se-a Spencer Ikeremm - 2012-04-18 16:46


  • Kimon - 2012-04-18 14:12

    Bring back "Who's the Boss" i would leave work and go home to watch that during my lunch break! Tony Danza for President!!

      Kate - 2012-04-19 17:37


  • Jill - 2012-04-18 15:06

    While we are on the subject, what about movie repeats of the old spaghetti westerns (skop, skiet and donner!!) "The Good, Bad and Ugly", "Few Dollars More" etc. Watching the stand off between Clint Eastwood and whoever he happened to want to donner (i.e. Eli Wallach, Lee van Cleef etc etc) was hilarious. Loved the music by Ennio Morricone as well.

      Jill - 2012-04-19 07:45

      Another one I thought of was "Columbo" - I just loved the way Peter Falk used to turn around just before he revealed who dunnit and said "Oh yea, one more thing..." As we are talking about THOSE WERE THE DAYS does anyone remember the wonderful comics we used to get like Richie Rich, Lulu, Little Lotto, Archie, Casper the Friendly Ghost etc....

  • gailcarolynhayes - 2012-04-18 16:50

    You want really old??? I've often thought our TV producers should do a TV version of Captain Silver which used to air at 5.45p.m. on Springbok Radio. I used to just have time to listen to it before going in for supper at boarding school. It was a great adventure story set at sea with sea monsters and all kinds of exciting exploits. Macgyver once was enough and so was Dallas and Rich Man Poor Man. We could do with programs like Downton Abby which is a wonderful series I have just watched from ITV. Liewe Heksie and Bennie Boekwurm are the only twoprograms I would be willing to watch again. PLEASE could SABC3 get their programming of series in synch for Desperate Housewives!!! One never knows which episode from which series is going to appear and since they seem to repeat them about once a week some episodes must have aired at least 6 times by now.

  • phathuchicos - 2012-04-18 16:54

    Wow it reminds me of my childhood...they should also put Zeina "warrior princess", LA undercover and the A-team. Welldone SABC maybe I might come back after all the subscription nonsense and foreighn non-english rubbish channels Toptv and Multichoice have been dishing me with.

  • Kgaugelo - 2012-04-18 16:56

    shem sabc ya modimo,

  • Willem - 2012-04-18 17:53

    They can might as well bring back Knight Rider and Airwolf

  • Samantha - 2012-04-18 18:45

    Lol- tweeted this headline to Richard Dean Anderson- thought he might find it interesting

  • sandra.makhatini - 2012-04-18 18:50

    Aaah...The Thorn Birds...that would be nice..

  • IcemanGP - 2012-04-18 20:01

    I'd like to see a re run of Magnum PI. But if midday is their highest viewer ship, jus goes to show how big the unemployment rate is.

      Jill - 2012-04-19 08:29

      Another one I thought of was "Columbo" - I just loved the way Peter Falk used to turn around just before he revealed who dunnit and said "Oh yea, one more thing..." As we are talking about THOSE WERE THE DAYS does anyone remember the wonderful comics we used to get like Richie Rich, Lulu, Little Lotto, Archie, Casper the Friendly Ghost etc....

  • bretton.eveleigh - 2012-04-19 10:52

    The content on SABC is so crap... that people rave about a 30 year old series. What next?

  • patrickflynn73 - 2012-04-19 12:57

    I love MacGyver. Infact most of the old 80s shows are awesome... when MacGyver is wrapped bring back DALLAS and KNOTS LANDING , I'm sure the viewership will be even higher!

  • NatachaElizabethAnne - 2012-04-19 13:26

    I loved MacGyver! Glad it is back

  • lwando.poni - 2012-04-19 17:10

    They should also bring in 21 Jump Street and Sinbad, those were pretty lekker. Lol lol how about Walker Texas Ranger? lol lol

  • Ed - 2012-04-19 18:34

    i personally hav not watched sabc tv for ova 6 years n have enjoyed internet tv since then. I still check 2 c if there is anythng worth my time and 1c in a very long while i will watch a sabc channel 4 30-60mnts. It's a pity the emphasis thats placed on soapies, reality tv and recycled crap we'v seen a dozen times ova the years. With the sabc givin a golden hand-shake every few years to yet another ovapaid CEO tht knws jack about broadcasting it's no surprise where the money for original south african content is going. In my opinion nothing since Yizo Yizo has come close to being original, ground-breaking and engaging. I'm just sayin with a lil less politics and a bit of funding and risk taking there is nothing stopping SA from having original series as popular as the likes of Lost, Prison Break etc. How great would the day be when we cut our addiction to american media

  • Jacqueline - 2012-04-19 23:30

    Murder She Wrote, The Cosby Show and The Golden Girls are all shows that are witty, well written and each and every episode has a moral story. Golden Girls was VERY progressive for it's time. Dealing with HIV and Aids, homophobia, PMS, Teen pregnancy and drugs.

  • mlunghisigeorge.khosa - 2012-04-19 23:51

    It's MacgYver so everYbodY talked about it n we hu did not know have to watch n pls just air Titanic one daY.

  • Gareth - 2012-04-20 08:31

    so that explains why the channel is on sabc when i get home in the evenings,my domestic worker watches while she irons,lol. But on a serious note, if you want to watch your old tv series again, why not by them on dvd or download them? Survivor is already on season 24 and there are no add breaks. And i hate add breaks!!!

      Gareth - 2012-04-20 08:32

      correction - buy -

  • Grant - 2012-04-20 10:47

    Can only be better than the reality tv shows all over dstv channels. even the music channels have them now.

  • Daniel - 2012-04-20 12:50


  • John - 2012-04-21 09:34

    I watch this almost everyday at work. it brings back lotsa good memories. Maybe after this it will be Airwolf remember that.

  • Claudia - 2012-04-23 08:29

    How about some Sci Fi re runs...Star Trek and the like. There are people out here that do like it.

  • Dean - 2012-04-23 12:13

    SABC is struggling coz of their stupid ads. Those MIWAY ads during Isidingo are puke-inducing!! "i dont feel like a number, i feel like a friend" says the chick on the motorbike. What BS. You'll say anythign they pay you to say. Those POOR ads are bringing SABC3 down...

  • Gerhard - 2012-04-23 15:50

    Hardcastle and Mccormick, L.A Law, Magnum PI and Airwolf :)

  • daryn.j.wood - 2012-04-24 16:03

    I loved watching MacGyver as a kid! I say bring back Airwolf and The A-team as well.

  • darealjacques - 2012-05-06 19:11

    The sad fact is that the the Sabc has lost many viewers because they opt to shove what they want down our throats. Unfortunately they feel that all South Africans want to watch the same programming. They need to approach this situation wisely. Remember that they have to please government at the same time as pleasing their viewers. That's basically impossible. Please ask us what we want. Send out emails/letters/sms's to all TV license holders and ask them which they would preffer to watch.. I wonder what SABC2's ratings for Friday's at 6 is with Vetkoek Paleis showing..

  • adele.rhodes2 - 2012-05-14 08:44

    I'm all for the oldies...Would love to re-watch Quincy!!!

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