At the end of 2018, DStv brought a new channel onto the platform, Real Time, a general entertainment channel for female audiences. At the time, the company behind the channel, Discovery Inc, said it brings the best of Discovery’s lifestyle and factual storytelling to African audiences.
Having sent a question and answer request to Discovery Inc right before the channel launched, The Media Online was pleasantly surprised when a response was sent this week.
Here’s the insights from Amanda Turnbull (left), vice president and general manager for Discovery in Africa and the Middle East.
Q: Why launch this channel?
It’s been over 20 years since we first started broadcasting in Africa in 1996 with just two channels. Since then, we’ve grown our presence in the market and we are now proud of our position as one of the leading international broadcasters in the region with a portfolio of 10 pay-TV channels and a huge fan-base across the continent. However, in this ever-changing media landscape, it’s crucial we remain adaptable and flexible.
This means working with different partners and diversifying our traditional business to ensure we remain competitive in this multi-platform era. It’s a strategy we’re applying across our global business, as we evolve to become a company that reaches audiences across all touch points – pay-TV, digital and free-to-air.
As a free DTT/DTH channel, Real Time affords us the chance to bring our world-class content to even more audiences than we’ve been previously been able to in the past, in the form of a channel designed to provide much-needed ‘me time’ to the modern African woman and her wider family.
On a wider level, the launch of Real Time was also a crucial step in our mission to transform our African ad sales strategy. We now work with two partners in South Africa, clearly defined across our channel portfolio, including DStv Media Sales and Viacom. With Real Time as part of our portfolio, we now offer South African advertisers a unique opportunity to reach large audiences, across distinct categories – in both pay and free-to-air.
Q: Why target the audience that it does? Was there a gap in the market or another reason?
Real Time was created as a way of reaching audiences for whom traditional pay-TV content hasn’t been accessible. When doing our research in South Africa specifically, we recognised that at the time there were few channels in DStv’s EasyView package (the target audience tier for Real Time) offering quality, female-orientated international content. This presented a natural opportunity for us to create a brand-new channel, comprised of our most-loved lifestyle content, which would offer something different to this under-served audience.
Based on initial insights, we can see the channel is really cutting through with South African viewers. Since its launch, Real Time has become Discovery’s 3rd rated channel in terms of share, reaching over 1.0M TV viewers in A15+ category, thanks to shows such as Tanked, Ultimate Cake Off and Little People Big World having attracted more than 50,000 viewers. The channel also has a healthy split between male and female audiences (47%:53% male to female), and seems to be resonating with younger viewers, with 43% aged 15-34, 32% of whom come from the LSM 7 category.
Q: What type of content is housed on the channel?
Having been present in the market for so many years as a business, we’ve been able to gather detailed insights into the type of content that works best with African audiences. We’ve applied that same knowledge and experience into our strategy for Real Time, creating a channel which cleverly weaves together the best of our international lifestyle and factual entertainment content – content that has had a proven track record in the pay-TV universe in Africa, and globally.
We’ve curated this diverse mix of content in a manner that mirrors the multi-faceted world of today’s African women, through core content pillars including Real Lives, Real Nature, Real Crime and Real Medical. So, viewers can expect episodes of some of our most popular franchises in one channel – from wedding drama in Married by Mom & Dad and cute pets in Cats 101, to extraordinary families in Sister Wives and real-life murder mysteries in People Magazine Investigates. This makes Real Time the ultimate destination for Discovery super-fans, as well as an exciting prospect for new audiences who crave accessible and engaging real-life entertainment.
Q: How does this channel differ from the multitude already on DStv?
There is currently no other channel on the DStv platform that can match Real Time’s blend of tried and trusted content from our most popular flagship brands. This, alongside its wide distribution on DStv, positions Real Time as a channel bringing the best of Discovery’s US production quality to everyone.
Q: Take us through how this channel fits into the broader Discovery brand and how it aligns with the Discovery branding.
In line with Discovery’s reputation as a global leader in real-life storytelling, Real Time brings viewers the most powerful stories, with brand values that chime with Discovery’s global purpose – inspirational, entertaining and 100% real. Globally, Real Time is a brand which has been part of the Discovery stable for several years – in Italy, Real Time is our most successful channel, outperforming our pay-TV networks in that market.
However, like all our brands, it has its own distinct look and feel, featuring an eye-catching colour palette for its on and off-air packaging that distinguishes it from our other networks and speaks to the fun and diverse nature of its programming line-up. Ultimately, it’s important our channels stand their own in the crowded TV arena, and based on initial results, it’s clear Real Time is fast becoming a go-to destination for South African viewers looking for a healthy dose of real reality.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say about this channel?
Our vision for Real Time has always been that it would be a channel that would resonate across South Africa – offering something different to audiences in the un-tapped FTA segment. With the channel firmly established in the FTA arena, we have a targeted strategy to supercharge Real Time’s content line-up and ensure the channel continues to offer a more tailored content offering. Beyond this, our hope is to launch the channel with other partners, so we can ensure audiences across the continent can access and enjoy the best of our globally-loved content, wherever they may be.