Cape Town – The first casualty since SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision to dump international content from the public broadcaster's airwaves is Disney.
Disney has now signed a contract with e.tv that will become the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of Disney produced and distributed shows.
While South African pay-TV subscribers will continue to get access to Disney shows on pay-TV channels like M-Net, MultiChoice's Disney channels on DStv, as well as across some StarSat channels, the Mouse House is expanding its presence for free-to-air viewers on e.tv from June.
Insiders and international distributors who license foreign content for broadcast have warned that the SABC's decision to do away with almost all international - mostly American TV fare – risks alienating global distributors and what's left of existing relationships that will be difficult for the public broadcaster to get back.
The SABC under Motsoeneng's local content diktat is "revamping" its radio station and TV channels, with its existing TV channels that will move to 90% local content, beginning with SABC3 that must have 80% local content starting from July.
International content distributors don't always license content packages and sign deals with necessarily the highest paying buyer but are also heavily influenced by existing relationships and trust, as well as over how material is used and eventually scheduled to create a mutually beneficial distributor and play-out partnership.
The e.tv Disney deal will further weaken what the SABC used to offer viewers.
e.tv says it has now entered into an "exclusive collaboration" with Disney for a free-to-air broadcast deal on South African television.
e.tv pointedly says "the relationship" allows e.tv "to broadcast top international and award-winning international and award-winning shows produced by Disney and its subsidiaries from June 2016".
e.tv viewers will benefit from this strengthened Disney-e.tv relationship from this month when e.tv kicks off with a Month of Marvel, showing films like Thor (5 June 20:00), Captain America: The First Avenger (12 June 20:00), The Avengers (19 June 20:00) and Thor: The Dark World (26 June 20:00) over the next four Sundays as primetime movies.
e.tv will also start to roll out American drama series like Devious Maids produced by ABC Studios, starting Monday 13 June at 20:03.
"We are very thrilled about this relationship with Disney," says Marlon Davids, acting managing director for e.tv channels division.
"Disney produces some of the best content in the world and we want to bring our viewers the best of both local and international content. Viewers can expect more incredible international movies and shows on their screens later this year".
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