TV ratings: Skeem Saam pops, SABC3 local flops

2017-05-09 11:59
Skeem Saam

Our local TV expert Thinus Ferreira dissects the April TV ratings in South Africa and gives us the scoops on the highs and the very lows.

Cape Town – The struggling SABC continued to lose TV viewers in April as SABC2 and SABC3 again shed viewers and audience share in the past month while SABC3's debut of a second batch of local shows all flopped like the first batch in 2016.

While's new April launched telenovela Broken Vows is a ratings dud at 20:00 opposite power house Generations, SABC1's Skeem Saam is proving to be South African television's most valuable player, topping 7 million viewers for the first time in April after it steadily gained more than one million viewers since the start of the year. 

While SABC1's managed to up its audience share in April, SABC2 and SABC3 are down as South Africa's TV ratings continue to flash red for the public broadcaster, indicative of the worsening financial and management crisis the SABC finds itself in.


It a show that gets little coverage and is under-reported but there is a SABC TV success story: Skeem Saam is SABC1's most valuable player when it comes to ratings, having grown its audience by over 1 million viewers in just four months – an astonishing feat.

From 5.97 million viewers in December 2016, Skeem Saam has robustly grown its viewership to 7.02 million viewers in April 2017, crossing the 7 million mark for the first time ever. 

The show continues to track as the third highest rated show monthly on SABC1 and also the third most watched show on all of South African television.

In April, one episode of Generations: The Legacy, on 18 April, lured 109 361 more viewers than Uzalo, making Generations the most watched show on SABC1 for the first time in 2017 with 8.92 million viewers, compared to Uzalo's 8.81 million viewers – the show that usually holds the top "most watched" spot.

April saw rating surges for both the Xhosa and Zulu TV news bulletins on SABC1, growing from 4.18 and 4.32 million to 4.61 and 4.57 million viewers respectively.

Other SABC1 shows that managed to add viewers include Friends Like These from 2.9 to 3.58 million viewers, Ngempela from 2.76 to 3.24 million viewers, Nyan Nyan from 3.09 to 4.12 million viewers, and Mokapelo from 2.64 to 3.09 million viewers.


Like a glacier, the ongoing worrying trend is continuing of SABC2's overall viewership and audience slide. In April SABC2's numbers receded further, although its top show, Muvhango edged up from 6.24 million to 6.42 million viewers.

Also up on SABC2 is local telenovela Keeping Score from 2.58 to 2.62 million viewers, Afrikaans soap 7de Laan from a disastrous 2.05 to 2.31 million viewers, the Afrikaans news from a low of 1.34 to 1.37 million viewers, the Venda TV news bulletin from a low 928 145 to 1.01 million viewers, and sitcom Skwizas from 1.34 to 1.43 million viewers.

Down is Bones of my Bones from 2.41 to 2.22 million viewers, with the Sotho and Setswana TV news bulletin continuing to bleed viewers in its 20:00 timeslot, down from 1.21 to 1.01 million viewers.

The perennial Afrikaans music competition show, Noot vir Noot is a shocking shadow of its past since its misguided move from Friday to Thursday nights. 

Noot vir Noot has shed over half of its former viewership. Ratings have slumped to barely 1.07 million viewers for its highest rated episode on 20 April, compared to the average of over 2.2 million viewers it used to get in previous seasons.

In fact, the umpteenth old rebroadcast of Afrikaans sitcom Vetkoekpaleis that has no production cost overheads for the SABC lures more viewers than Noot vir Noot, with the library title luring 1.28 million viewers to SABC2 in the same 19:00 timeslot on Mondays, compared to Noot vir Noot on Thursdays.


The disastrous ratings destruction continues for SABC3 that saw a further sad slide in viewership and audience share in April. SABC3's entire second batch of local shows introduced in the month, except one, are flops.

While "the stage is yours" at SABC3, the channel shockingly continues to bleed viewers, advertisers and cash on local shows viewers don't want to watch – everything on the channel except local soap Isidingo in first place in April with 1.3 million viewers is now languishing with less than a million viewers.

SABC3 introduced a second barrage of local shows in April with big fanfare but they're nowhere in the ratings except for the Friday comedy Soap on a Rope that managed to lure a measly 469 102 viewers. 

While costing the SABC money, other new local shows are ratings wash-outs, from The Hostess with Lorna Maseko, Driving in Heels, Dinner Date SA, Tyres and Braaiers and Uyanda: It's On, to Thula's Vine, Is That a Fact? and The Good Life. 

The SABC's flagship TV news, its English bulletin at 18:00 on SABC3 fell further in April from 756 753 to just 638 978 viewers.

Moved an hour later and now broadcast live for its new third season is paying dividends for local talker Real Talk with Anele with Anele Mdoda and produced by Cheeky Media, that for the first time became a ratings grabber with a still low, but there, 530 259 viewers.

Things are also working out for the advertiser-funded production (AFP) Tropika Island of Treasure of which the 7th season moved from SABC1 to SABC3 and is now the 12th most watched show on the channel with 520 885 viewers.

SABC3 viewers still show up for international fare. 

In April they watched movies like One in the Chamber (832 168), Blue Caprice (659 568), Nora Roberts' Tribute (609 043), Northern Lights (564 854), Nora Roberts' High Noon (563 833), All is Lost (563 337), Midnight Bayou (547 868) and Fallen Not Forgotten (516 652).

SABC3 viewers also stuck around for the new season of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur (470 434) that started, and The Bold and the Beautiful (469 814) weakened by yet another SABC timeslot move.

Bollywood films Deiva Thirumagal (498 021) and Ek Deewana Tha (484 900) rounded out SABC3's April list of top 20 most watched programmes.

Topping's most watched shows in April were Scandal! (4.58 million) and Rhythm City (3.22 million) both stable although slight off from March highs, followed by WWE Wrestling Raw ticking up from 2.55 to 2.79 million viewers.

Up against the SABC1 Generations juggernaut,'s newly launched in April telenovela Broken Vows was nowhere in the ratings and failed to make the list of's 20 most watched shows during the month.


On pay-TV Our Perfect Wedding on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) remained steady at 1.57 million viewers in April as the most watched show, followed by soaps Isibaya and Igazi with 1.25 million viewers respectively, and Date My Family in 4th place with 1.15 million viewers.

Continuing the M-Net packaged channel's total viewership dominance in April, Mzansi Magic also grabbed the 5th to 10th places of most watched shows on pay-TV with Saints and Sinners (902 888), The Queen (842 348), Lockdown (730 344), Isithembiso (729 360) and Isikizi (652 754).

Besides Mzansi Magic, soccer matches broadcast on SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 4 did the rest of the heavy lifting for DStv in April with the Absa Premiership, Uefa Champions League, Premier League, La Liga and Nedbank Cup bringing the boys to the yard and grabbing 13 places on DStv's list of 30 most watched programmes. 

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