The death of print/TV/magazines has been in the headlines for sometime in South Africa and around the world. Certainly the threat seems to be more real outside of our continent than in it.
Recent updated TAMS (TV AMPS) continues to show penetration figures across most SA target markets of over 80%, which tells us that our South African consumer is still very much a TV viewer in it’s most traditional sense.
Do they engage with content more than before?
Certainly, however the incidence of smart TVs and smartphone penetration in this country is way below that of international standards, making our people more traditional viewers than binge viewers (defined as ‘the process of shutting oneself off to external forces in order to watch entire seasons of a TV show over a short period’).
In the UK, this incidence is over 50% with TV and digital platform above-the-line investments almost on par.
Our options increase yearly with DStv offering hundreds of channels, with packages to suit all pockets. Top TV (now StarSat) launched a few years back, also hoping to tap into the pay-TV space, but is lagging behind in uptake. The next marker on the map is the all digitalised terrestrial television viewing experience we have been waiting from our parastatal SABC, which moves the goal post year-on-year.
This is all to say that our options increase, and our choices fragment but that traditional TV viewership habits are pretty much still as they have always been.
This is evident when marketers track a day in the life of a South African consumer: TV before leaving for work, radio or taxi TV on the way to work, radio in the background all day, TV at night when they get home – mobile interaction throughout the day, whether on a social or professional level.
Yes, generalisation is the mother of all mistakes yet, the miracle of catch-up TV and PVR is still real to a small few, hence the need still for appointment viewing of your favourite soapie or movie.
Sure YouTube has an impact on South African viewing behaviour and the way its content is shared, particularly across social media platforms, but as a planner, that relies on numbers to project and monitor trend skews, the uptake and use is slow. As mass as this platform is, it also relies on innovation and forward thinking, not repetition and so the role it plays versus that of the traditional television offering – introduction and reminder – is fundamentally different.
Our viewing engagement is on the move and it will be driven by our youth in due time. It needs the assistance of faster internet connection and more aggressive internet service provider strategies.
Give us time, faster affordable connection and watch as South Africans set some trends of their own. And watch us binge.
Christina Vieges is a media planner with Y&R South Africa.