SABC1 goes 100% local in prime time

2014-07-11 22:00
Johannesburg - In a bold new move, the public broadcaster is going for a schedule revamp from 14 July.

This is partly to deal with the post-World Cup blues, but also to retain the big viewing numbers it has been drawing over the years.

Make no mistake, SABC1 remains the most watched TV channel in South Africa, but the heat is on as competitors steadily steal audiences away.

SABC1 recognises that it cannot only rely on staples like Generations and Selimathunzi. The plan is to bring viewers more entertainment and new local content, scheduled in a better way – and with fewer repeats.

And so it is that the schedule changes from Monday.

For the first time, there will be a soapie at 18:30 in the form of youth drama Skeem Saam.

The news bulletins move from 19:30 to 19:00, while the sitcoms are screened 30 minutes later at 19:30 with long-standing shows like Selimathunzi.

Generations, the most watched local programme on TV, is not affected by the shuffle and stays put in the 20:00 slot. The dramas follow at 20:30.

Channel head Maijang Mpherwane says: "The SABC1 schedule has changed drastically, except for Generations and Khumbul’ekhaya – we don’t dare touch those – but other than that, we’re spicing up our content completely. From July 14, SABC1 prime time will be 100% local."

The channel has been steadily losing viewers over the past three years as audiences turn to the likes of M-Net’s Mzansi Magic with its fresh, glitzy content.

Viewers are opting for pay TV telenovelas and soapies such as iNkaba, Isibaya and Zabalaza; competition shows like Clash of the Choirs; and the Lokshin Bioskop movies on Mzansi Magic.

"We’ve seen how the rest of the industry started to copy SABC1’s content," says Mpherwane.

"As opposed to getting angry that people are starting to look like SABC1, we’re very happy that the industry is benefiting from increased local investment in the industry. But we’re not resting on our laurels.

"Coming out of the 2014 World Cup, we’re looking to create and offer a schedule that hasn’t been seen before in the country on SABC1."

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