It’s the biggest crowd puller on South African TV screens. With an average daily reach of almost two-million viewers, this television genre far outstrips any other. It’s not sport. It’s not reality TV. It’s soap opera.
Television audience research conducted by the South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) shows that on average, just over 1,862-million free-to-air and pay-TV viewers (aged 4+) tune in to catch their favorite soapies each day. (SABC 1’s ‘Generations’ is South Africa’s number one soapie, a position it has held for several years.)
Soapies don’t just head the top-10-genre list – they make a clean sweep of the competition, according to SAARF’s daily TV viewing data from its Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS) for the period 1 January to 31 August 2012. Soap operas pull in just under 1.4-million more viewers on average each day than the next ranked genre: educational programmes.
In third position is drama, a genre that attracts 358 237 viewers on average each day. Movies take fourth position, followed by actuality programmes, with news programmes ranking sixth. Coming in seventh is advertising, with reality shows taking eighth position, thanks to the genre’s 186 274-average daily viewers.
Featuring far lower down the list than one might expect in a sport-mad country is sport, ranking ninth. Maybe South Africans are catching all the action live at the stadia, because the sport-viewing audience is but a fraction of the total TV audience of 39-million; sport programmes only pull an average of some 169 649 viewers each day. When it comes to pay-TV, sport ranks higher up the list, coming in as the fifth most-watched genre for pay-TV subscribers, although this audience too is small: 89 087 on average each day.
The last genre to make the nation’s top-10-genres list is magazine programmes.
Top genres on pay television
The list of top genres for pay-TV viewers is somewhat different to that of the nation’s TV-viewing in general.
Soapies are still king, with 357 521 viewers on average each day. Movies, ranking second, attract half the audience that soapies do, with 175 271 viewers.
Reality shows rank third with 113 350 viewers, while dramas are fourth and sport fifth. A number of dedicated music channels might account for music ranking sixth as a genre for the Pay-TV viewing audience.
News fills seventh position, with 75 123 viewers each day. Actuality, educational programmes, and variety shows occupy spots eight through 10.