This is not a paywall.

Register for free to continue reading.

We made a promise to you that we’ll never erect a paywall and we intend to keep that promise. We also want to continually improve your reading experience and you can help us do that by registering with us. It’s quick, easy and will cost you nothing.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish up registering with us:

Please enter your password or get a login link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for registering.

Ramaphosa's energy plan Webinar banner

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

TV viewership ratings: Online video and Eskom load shed...



Online video, analogue switch-off and load shedding killing the TV star, viewership ratings show

(Photo: Unsplash / Olena Sergienko)

The way content is consumed has changed, affecting where advertisers spend.

Rapid changes in viewership habits, power failures and the analogue television signal switch-off have created a perfect storm, eroding TV ratings to their worst level. Soon, streaming consumption will overtake broadcast media in SA.

These are the findings of the Broadcast Research Council’s (BRC’s) latest TV Audience Measurement Survey (Tams) audit, which was released on 13 May after months of delays.

Television ratings have traditionally been the benchmark against which advertising spend has been set as return on investment (ROI) is measured and brands decide on sponsorships.

But the rise of online video – which is not measured in the Tams audit – raises the question: For how much longer will these ratings still matter?

The council is tasked with commissioning the delivery of radio and television audience measurement research for broadcasters and the advertising and marketing industries.

In August last year, the BRC announced its intention to commission a comprehensive Tams audit because of changes in the video viewing landscape, which had shifted significantly because of load shedding and the Covid-19 pandemic.

CEO Gary Whitaker said at the time that he hoped to release the final Tams audit report at the beginning of October 2021.

An interim report was released, covering an environmental review, a qualitative survey of factors including power supply, viewership on other platforms and devices, as well as an analysis of the market landscape.

Conducted by Nielsen market researchers, the report suggested that there were multiple drivers affecting viewing performance, with the main ones being:

Changes in the structure of TV households: With shifts in the market to digital services such as DStv, OpenView, digital terrestrial television (DTT) etc, consumers have more choice, so spend less time on free-to-air (FTA) channels, causing more fragmented audiences. The decline in analogue homes had accelerated with the government’s plans to switch off analogue altogether, affecting millions of households.

Performance within a platform and a channel’s ability to maintain or grow share of broadcast TV within a platform: For instance, the SABC has seen a decline in performance across all platforms, the report showed. In 2019, analogue-only homes made up two-thirds of the SABC’s average monthly audiences in 2019. By May 2021, the platform contribution of analogue only dropped to 52%, with DStv, OpenView and DTT contributing more.

The share of broadcast TV as a proportion of total measured TV: The report said there were strong indications that analogue and DTT homes were supplementing viewing with non-broadcast content as more streaming media channels became available to South Africans. Lockdowns have accelerated this trend.

The impact of power outages has become more unpredictable: This has caused significant declines in overall viewing in the short term. These blackouts erase millions of TV households from the measurement grid.

The BRC and Nielsen’s load shedding dashboard provides a startling breakdown of how rolling power blackouts affect more than just productivity and personal lives. It shows how TV viewership, which is critical to the promotion of business, is wiped out whenever advertising is not broadcast because of load shedding.

Viewers are also disappearing because of the government’s drive to switch off analogue signals.

Non-broadcast activities, which include Netflix, gaming, YouTube, Google Movies and others (not measured in Tams), have increased significantly, says Terry Murphy, the managing director of Nielsen Media. Soon, non-broadcast activity will be the top screen activity in South Africa.

SA has a TV-watching population (aged four and above) of about 50 million. The video universe (ages 15 and above) is 38.7 million people. Of those, 71% now also fall in the online universe. Sixty-three percent of all video watchers stream or broadcast. Eight percent don’t watch any videos: they are online, but they don’t watch video.

Within the streaming and broadcast universes, 19.7 million are broadcast-only consumers, and 20.7 million are streaming consumers. “The streaming universe is bigger than the broadcast universe among the people who can do both. There are 4.5 million people [who] are only streaming, so they’re not watching broadcast any more.”

This will have massive repercussions for where, when and how advertisers and marketers channel their spend.

Advertising spend could also be shifting towards digital channels but, for now, TV remains an important channel for brands and for the many South Africans who don’t have the luxury of streaming services. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • Advertising is dead, just needs the post mortem

    We watch:
    Netflix, Apple TV (no ads)

    Dstv we watch catchup not live (so no ads)

    and some foreign news channels on Dstv (seemingly mainly Nigerian mobile phone ads ?).

    On internet I run multiple ad-blockers but pay for a few news sites like DM and Moneyweb locally.

    I am not sure advertisers can respond? Probably most of what we are actually exposed to is products embedded in content.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted