What’s on the radar for television in 2017? We rounded up a bunch of experts in the field to give us their opinions. Chris Hitchings (DStv), Gary Alfonso (Fox Africa), Yolisa Phahle (M-Net), Joel Churcher (BBC Worldwide), Anton Harber (eNCA), Marlon Davids (e.tv) and Taryn Uhlmann (Discover Digital) share their views.
What’s on the radar for 2017 – DMS?
Certainly it’s been a tough year for most media owners, and predictions for 2017 unfortunately point to more of the same. The game will be survival of the fittest, or maybe the smartest and most agile.
Winning the 2016 overall MOST Award as the top media owner in the country was a fantastic accolade and highlights the effort and commitment put in by our sales teams and support staff. Staying on top is always a challenge, but certainly defending our crown will be a priority for the year ahead.
Being first mover to net rates was a big change for us to manage this year. It wasn’t completely seamless, but a supportive industry understood our rationale during the transition. Change is never easy, but now that it’s done I think there is consensus that net rates make sense and I suspect we may see other media owners following suit.
The market will remain soft with little growth, and media owners will fight for their share in 2017. Marketers will be risk averse and shift spend towards media that can reach audiences with spending power, and that can deliver accountable, guaranteed results.
Classic advertising remains our core focus, but we must explore new advertising formats to keep pace with viewing trends. We’ll be launching our new system for automated ad insertion into Catch Up early in the New Year – watch this space!
Chris Hitchings is CEO of DStv Media Sales.
The jury is in. Content is still King
Research on technological innovation in television, broadband connectivity and digital media highlights new trends about human content consumption every day. But it does not change the fundamental fact that audiences simply want compelling, quality content.
That’s why Fox Networks Group Africa (FNGA) have been and will continue to evolve the business to meet the changing media landscape as we bring the best in entertainment, factual and sports programming to audiences across the continent. Irrespective of the devices on which they choose to view it on.
FNG Africa launched Fox Life in October 2016 as part of a strategy to meet the preferences of local audiences across SSA. Part of that strategy is also repositioning Fox Sports 2, with more local sports content in Southern, East and
FNG Africa also launched a content production division recently, which will produce and co-produce quality content across the continent.
Fox Networks Group Africa represents the business activities of the two genre defining brands in the world of entertainment and factual television, Fox and National Geographic. Both continue to attract audiences on television, digital and mobile platforms in 37 English, French and Portuguese speaking countries across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Gary Alfonso is head of Fox Networks Group Africa.
What they want, when they want it
The industry M-Net entered 30 years ago as Africa’s pay-TV pioneer is dramatically different today: It has grown, diversified and is far more complex. Consumers have more choice and the internet has democratised the distribution of video entertainment. Technology and Video on Demand platforms such as ShowMax and Netflix, as well as DStv Now and the DStv Explora, have changed the way viewers consume programming. They can view what they want, when they want it on various devices such as their phones, tablets or laptops.
African audiences are delighted by local content in local languages. At M-Net, telling local stories in local languages remains a key focus. Investing in our production industry will ensure our languages survive, our history is preserved and also create jobs.
M-Net delivers the best international and local stories and innovations such as Express from the US ensuring shows can be seen by viewers within 24 hours of being broadcast in the US. Talent shows like Idols and The Voice will launch successful music careers for many talented performers and Carte Blanche will continue to tell stories that are in the interests of our communities.
Yolisa Phahle is CEO of M-Net.
Spoilt for choice
Television audiences were spoilt for choice this year with a good mix of new content to complement the successful returning shows. Linear television viewing remains popular despite audiences viewing content on other platforms. That said, broadcasters cannot ignore the need to provide content on alternative platforms.
We successfully launched another movie channel on OpenView HD, the free satellite television platform, launching eMovies Extra and will build this channel in 2017. We recognise that despite the success of local programming our viewers have an appetite for quality international programming.
We continue to invest in quality local productions and look forward to bringing new stories that viewers will enjoy. The content offering on our online streaming platform e On Demand will also increase next year.
Marlon Davids is managing director of e.tv Channels.
New BBC genre brands a success in SA
Two years ago, we launched our new global brands – BBC Brit, BBC Earth and BBC First – to the South African market. Our portfolio has gone from strength to strength in that time. BBC Brit’s weekly reach has doubled since the channel’s launch among compact males. BBC Earth has the largest proportion of LSM 8-10 viewers, and BBC Lifestyle is South Africa’s number one lifestyle channel.
BBC Worldwide was named as one of the top 20 brands in the country by the prestigious African Loeries Official Rankings 2016 following our marketing team’s Gold and Bronze Loerie awards for their work on BBC Lifestyle’s Great South African Bake Off and BBC Brit’s Top Gear.
The team won a Pendoring award for its first radio campaign in Zulu, reflecting BBC Worldwide’s efforts to localise content and communications in Africa in order to reach one of the fastest growing audiences worldwide. The team also collected the Umpetha award for best ad in a local language other than Afrikaans.
There is much to be excited about in 2017. We are bringing several of our globally renowned shows to South Africa, including Planet Earth II. There is a strong appetite for local content, which is why we partnered with Rapid Blue, to ensure that we are meeting our viewers’ demands.
Joel Churcher is BBC Worldwide’s vice president and general manager for Africa.
Independent news puts eNCA on top
In 2016 eNCA strengthened its focus on quality, independent news. This paid off, with eNCA reinforcing its number one position in the South African television news market with 56% share of the news channel audience towards the end of the year and the fastest-growing news website in the country.
A new development in 2016 was introducing polls in eNCA’s election coverage. These polls were controversial and hotly contested, but allowed the station to be the only news outlet showing with hard facts that the ANC was losing ground and the DA was gaining it.
The elephant in the room is that more news outlets, under political and financial pressure, are surrendering independence and taking sides in the political debates that are so important to our democracy. eNCA is bucking this trend. At a time of shrinking space for good, independent journalism, eNCA is re-asserting its independence and non-partisanship – and it is paying dividends in strong audience and advertising growth.
For 2017, eNCA plans to bolster coverage of the most important story of all – what’s happening with the economy.
Anton Harber is editor in chief, eNCA.
Deeper understanding of VOD
2016 was a turning point in the video on demand (VOD) industry ushering in the year with the arrival of Netflix and the solidification of Naspers’ ShowMax. Their most significant impact was consumer awareness and education. Both, through existing brand equity (Netflix) or aggressive brand positioning (ShowMax), resulted in a turn of heads towards this ‘new’ trend. With that came a much-needed deeper understanding of video streaming and affordable entertainment alternatives through subscription services.
Telcos and broadcast businesses began to comprehend their potential irrelevance in the near future if they didn’t adapt to this new wave of TV. Alongside the national rollout of internet, from fibre to free wi-fi, the provision of data became an ingredient in any consumer-centric offer. MTN’s VU offered complete free streaming from a MTN sim.
Unfortunately, VOD business strategies are still often targeted top down and not people-up, leaning on short term business imperatives over truly offering a service for all people, which could result in a slate of poorly performing VOD and IPTV services in the near future.
What will 2017 hold? Linear on demand and TV Everywhere. Look out for converged VOD and IPTV services – a hybrid of VOD and traditional TV channels available over the internet, on the go. Tailored content packages, additional billing options and more device alternatives will ultimately result in far greater access and more choice. n
Taryn Uhlmann is executive head of operations at Discover Digital.
This story was first published in The Media Yearbook 2017. Click on the cover to read the digizine.