South Africans watching more and more TV

2012-11-14 11:21
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – While South Africans complain about roads and draconian e-tolls, schools without textbooks, rampant crime, a terrible national soccer team and expensive electricity, there's one thing they say is actually getting better: Television.

According to a groundbreaking new qualitative study from Discovery Networks, The Rise of the TV Everywhere Audience - conducted across 10 countries including South Africa, Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region - looking at the changing nature of TV consumption, 53% of South Africans (40% agree; another 13% strongly agree) that there's more good TV content today than there used to be.

A quarter (25%) felt that the amount of good TV content in South Africa has neither increased nor decreased, while 23% said there's less good TV content available to South Africans. The research by Discovery Insights, the research division of the global factual entertainment content creator, was carried out in May and June this year.

The exhaustive research for the 60-page report looked for clues and analysed the behaviour of thousands of viewers for indicators of how TV watching is evolving and the radical trends and changes digital technology and social media are having on people's viewing habits.

Watching more television

More South Africans are consuming more TV content, and spending more of their time doing so – not despite devices, social media and the internet vying for their time and attention, but because of it.

The major implication is that brands, companies, broadcasters, content producers, content shapers and advertisers who don't engage and join this sea change sweeping television in South Africa as well as similar emerging markets across the world are going to be left out in the cold.

Discovery Networks CEEMEA region released the Rise of the TV Everywhere Audience report indicating that the South African TV viewer is watching more television than ever before – a massive 4.5 hours of TV daily – and it keeps growing. Almost a third (31%) of South Africans have watched live TV in the past six months online - an incredible statistic.

"TV viewing is rising and continuing to rise on other screens," said Jonathan Bennet, the director of communications for Discovery CEEMEA who flew to South Africa to present the groundbreaking report by Discovery Insights to journalists, stakeholders and TV executives.

While South African TV viewers and audiences – due to slower broadband speed, cost and access – rate and fare slightly lower in several of the categories, there is massive change happening within South African TV viewing behaviour which is not confined to "wealthy" TV viewers or those with access to better TV or television on more screens.

Smartphone as second TV screen

It's largely thanks to the smartphone cellphone. A massive 74% of South Africans surveyed indicated that they have a smartphone – the second highest of all of the countries included in the research.

Smartphone technology allows viewers to interact with social media, watch additional TV and track down more information about, and engage with, TV shows.

While 64% of South Africans still watch TV in a linear way and watch television as it is broadcast according to The Rise of the TV Everywhere Audience, 18% record television for later, a whopping 11% watch video-on-demand (VOD), and 7% watch "catch-up" television which only recently became an option in South Africa.

Furthermore, 17% have watched or downloaded TV content over the past six months, a third (33%) have used the internet to post something about a TV show on social networks or used the internet to find out more about a TV show online, and 15% have watched live TV through their internet connection on a tablet device.

While South Africa (31%) and Hungary (29%) lag behind other markets they are just as likely to watch catch-up TV as live TV online.

Mobile TV

South Africa again came out second highest in the research (72%) with respondents indicating a positive response of being strongly interested in using a device or service that would allow them to access TV content wherever they are, for instance on a smartphone or tablet.

A third (33%) of South Africans said using the internet enhanced their TV viewing experience – like posting about a TV show on social networking sites or looking up information about a programme.

While 18% of South Africans have already watched clips of their favourite programmes on their mobile phones, 43% haven't but said they would do so in the future.

South Africa came out tops (67%) in all of the 10 countries surveyed when asked whether they're interested in a device or service that could recommend TV programmes based on preference, and South Africa was again on top with very strong support (79%) for a device which could automatically record TV shows that might be of interest to them.

When South Africans choose what they're going to watch they indicated that trailers influence their viewing decision the most, followed by friends and family, and then online TV guides in third place. Adverts, printed reviews, and TV guides didn't make the top three spots.

South Africa also came out tops when it comes to TV viewers talking about TV programmes on social networking sites while watching TV - 8.1% said they do so always or often, and a further 43% said they do so occasionally - the highest out of all 10 countries.


  • grant.logan.94 - 2012-11-14 11:40

    Thanks to the internet and sharing. Now we too can watch US shows a day after it is shown in the US.

      nadine.devilliers - 2012-11-14 12:34

      if that is the case your internet link is too slow!! 1 hour later!!

      george.vonberg - 2012-11-14 14:45

      @nadine, what site do you use?

  • fathima.b.khan.9 - 2012-11-14 11:54

    Has anybody thought that cos it is unsafe to go out. We are all staying in and watching tv cos we are looking for the safety of our homes

  • sharkie.fin - 2012-11-14 12:14

    Headline should read : South Africans watching less SABC and more DSTV.

      an0nthinker - 2012-11-15 14:35

      Even people that can't afford dstv, have dstv. I don't. Can't afford it. I'd rather pay for cheap internet line and d/load proper tv programs from US.

  • Thebe Hlahatsi - 2012-11-14 12:19

    thanks to DSTV! i don't know what i will do without it. Nothing interesting on SABC if you ask me beside trying to make the ANC look good with useless facts.

  • elizma.lazarus - 2012-11-14 12:22

    Farm workers are being dragged from their homes and forced to part take in a strike they do not wish to part take in by busloads of black township people that come from as far as even Cape Town. Their children writing the matric exam are being prevented from writing. All strikes in South Africa are violent- towns are being plundered and roads and farms burnt, as are labourers who would not adhere's houses. Why is there a Frenschman involved with the instigation? Why was there a Brit involved in the instigation of the mine workers' strike. Far too many Boland farms already belong to Anglo- American- farms that were in the same family for generations. Won't it be handy if private farm owners could now be finally broken to sell out. As always and as with everything I see the true enemy of this country as sitting outside the country, outside the picture, way back from the buffoons they use to act on their behalf. Do these sods, uneducated, lawless drugged- up masses truly believe these people will continue to tolerate them once they've done their dirty work for them?\r\n\r\nNow that's why we stay at home and watch tv.

  • mlamli.jikeka - 2012-11-14 12:47

    sabc is playing something but we licences for what good reason!

  • david.vanderwesthuizen - 2012-11-14 13:25

    Its because it safer and cheaper to stay home. We the people of South Africa have to live in homes that look like jails. Its not because tv is getting better its because its all we can do or afford.

  • mark.uys.5 - 2012-11-14 13:36

    Get a Xbox360 and TV becomes a historical time piece!

      emile.marais - 2012-11-16 23:38


  • mumsygal - 2012-11-14 16:48

    South africa is for every people living here so people should be provided with shelter before they evacuated where are they suppose to stay or sleep what about children

  • ingeborg.rodarte - 2012-12-05 08:19

    Watching more TV just like reading books more on digital ways, gathering books and reading them anywhere, at any time! to get digital books free, go rush at this website . enjoy!

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