Generations debut underwhelms with 7.5 million viewers

2014-12-05 16:20

Cape Town – The ratings are in and the debut episode of the "new" Generations The Legacy on SABC1 on Monday night managed to pull an underwhelming 7.5 million viewers when the retooled primetime soap returned to South African TV screens with a new cast after an absence of two months.

South Africa doesn't have consolidated overnight TV ratings and on Tuesday the SABC lied when SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago boasted the next day and claimed that "over 10 million people were watching. This has never happened before. The highest it averaged before this was 8.6 million."

Actually only 7.528 million people tuned in according to the now available audience ratings for Monday – on par with what the soap had before.

It still makes Generations The Legacy the most watched soap, the most watched local TV production, and the most watched TV programme overall on South African television.

MMSV Productions and executive producer Mfundi Vundla fired the principal cast in August following a strike after months of waiting for their 3 year contracts which was promised to them in July 2013 by the SABC and which didn't materialise.

Vundla then replaced the principal cast with inexperienced new actors, with the first new episode on Monday night on SABC1 which drew a tepid reception from viewers and TV critics.

Why the 7.5 million viewers are noteworthy and actually underwhelming is that, given the months of banner headlines and insatiable coverage about the soap's behind-the-scenes meltdown, the level of interest would have spurred once-off sampling and people tuning in out of curiosity.

If the 7.5 million viewers who were attracted to the debut episode already include those non-core viewers who sample and then quickly flee – similar to American television where a big-buzz show lure a huge initial audience and then level off- it  means that Generations The Legacy might struggle to regain or retain its former ratings glory.

Industry watchers expected a bigger number and are also puzzled as to why the SABC decided to bring back Generations in December – a doldrum time of year when the available audience starts to level off – instead of January 2015.

Drops 1 million viewers by Tuesday

Generations The Legacy already took a dive in the second episode on Tuesday on SABC1, dropping a million viewers.

"As expected from the reaction from viewers there was a drop in viewership between the first and the 2nd episode," Cheryl Dube, media strategist at Carat SA tells Channel24.

"Episode one of Generations The Legacy saw approximately 7 528 000 viewers aged 15 and older, or 23 AR's (audience rating).”

“This is on par with the average episode of the previous Generations which saw an average audience of 7 440 000 viewers in its final three months," says Dube.

"Episode two of Generations The Legacy saw 6 523 000 – an 19.9 AR."

The TV biz is now waiting to see where Generations The Legacy will stabilise which will determine the new ad rate and spot price the SABC's sales devision will be able to charge for 30 second commercials during the timeslot which has been the public broadcaster's most expensive.

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