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Hot local content just makes good business sense

Updated: Mar 4

The success of MultiChoice’s Shaka iLembe – its best-performing drama series to date, once again demonstrates South Africa’s appetite for local content.

The debut episode was seen by 4.3 million viewers – the highest viewership MultiChoice has recorded for a single episode of scripted content. The show, which tells the tale of the Zulu king, is not only a locally-resonant story, but it also features a local cast and is produced by local production company, Bomb Productions.

Then there’s SABC’s Uzalo, available on Viu. Uzalo remained the number one most-watched show in South Africa in December 2023, racking up over 5.8 million views, while Skeem Saam, also available on SABC and Viu, remains hot on its heels.

Look to linear TV. The top ten shows currently are all local. Now look to subscription TV; again, all local. What is this telling advertisers? Local content just makes business sense.

Urban Brew Studios Keletso Rakuemakoe summed up the ‘why’ well: ”This trend is driven by…a desire for content that reflects the diverse experiences and identities of South Africans, a growing sense of national pride, and an increased investment in the local entertainment industry by broadcasters and production companies.”

And what’s even more interesting to note is how great local content is growing South African streaming audiences. Viu, recently hit 4,6 million monthly active users. eVOD, eMedia’s streaming service which also boasts a strong local content focus, announced in June that it had reached a milestone, acquiring 800,000 registrations within two short years following its launch.

South Africa has a youthful population with a median age of 27 years, and younger people are generally very comfortable with streaming services and accessing content via multiple devices. This, combined with the fact that the public and private sectors are on an aggressive drive to bring low-cost internet to more people, means rapid growth and new opportunities – even in a market with historically patchy internet penetration.

Says the Africa OTT TV and Video Forecasts 2023 report, “Africa will have 15.57 million paying subscription video on demand (SVOD) subscriptions by 2028, up from 6.15 million at end-2022,” while PwC’s industry insights report, Africa Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022-2026, has stated that VOD’s revenue growth outlook is expected to outpace TV subscription revenue by 2026.

This demand for local content will only grow as heavy hitters such as Viu and Netflix – encouraged by viewer eyeballs – invest more into African content production.

And so, for advertisers, exploring local content opportunities and including streaming in your platform stack just makes good business sense.

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