Content is at the core of our business and our content offering sets us apart from our competitors. From the shows we produce and the channels we acquire, to our scheduling strategy – our key ambition is to ensure our customers are delighted with great entertainment all year round. We offer a diverse set of channels to cater to our customers' diverse needs. Demand for local content and channels continues to grow, with audiences wanting to see more local stories.
M-Net 101 emerged out of lockdown having retained its status as the most watched channel on DStv Premium and continues to provide the best of the best in both local and international entertainment. M-Net 101 provided both a compelling live and on-demand viewer experience, with its prime time line-up of much-loved returning series, and new big-ticket international series, blockbuster films and high-quality local stories. M-Net 101 integrated its linear proposition into a multiplatform world, with previews and boxsets curated on Catch Up and the DStv app. These exciting changes give consumers the ability to engage with content on the platform of their choice with access to enhanced content discovery and a personalised app experience.
Despite the challenges the film and TV industry faced during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, M-Net 101 launched several prominent productions such as Legacy, the channel's English telenovela that premiered in September 2020. M-Net 101 also successfully executed two big format reality shows, The Bachelorette SA season one and Survivor SA season eight, in the safety of a production bubble and, more importantly, without one COVID-19 incident. The Bachelorette SA season one went on to achieve an audience reach of above 200 000 on DStv Premium. Survivor SA season eight is scheduled for June 2021. Notably, seasons six and seven of Survivor SA were sold internationally to an Australian SVOD service, and a deal is in negotiation for season eight.
Reyka, M-Net 101's next big, scripted co-production with international producer Fremantle, completed production in February 2021 and is set to launch on Sunday nights in July 2021. The series stars one of South Africa's most formidable stars and TV exports, Kim Engelbrecht, alongside Game of Thrones alumnus Iain Glen.
M-Net 101 launched three scripted English series during lockdown, building its local Thursday line-ups. The family melodrama, Still Breathing, the suspense drama, Inconceivable, and the high-octane action drama, Lioness, launched to stellar reviews. Lioness was the most popular M-Net 101 local drama, regularly attracting just under a quarter-million DStv Premium viewers.
All three shows have international distribution offers and aided in growing the English local catalogue for the group.
South African local channels
Our proudly South African premier video entertainment brands, kykNET and Mzansi Magic, had a prolific year showcasing authentic local productions and honing local talent.
Over the past year, kykNET celebrated 21 years on air with an exciting birthday campaign that amplified the channel’s role as a key cultural touchstone. Mzansi Magic celebrated its 10th birthday with the Dankie Mzansi campaign, which provided a nostalgic mix of the channel’s era-defining programmes on Catch Up in July 2020.
The proactive planning of the local channel teams proved to be a crucial asset during lockdown, resulting in minimal impact on production schedules, budgets and viewer experience. In adhering to the national lockdown, most productions came to a halt. MultiChoice decided to implement measures to safeguard the sustainability of production houses, and the income of cast and crew members. We set aside an initial ZAR80m towards a COVID-19 relief fund. The fund was created for productions that could not deliver due to lockdown regulations, and enabled production houses to apply for funding to continue paying the cast and crew's salaries. In total, 16 local productions benefited from this; 11 in South Africa and five in the Rest of Africa.
kykNET maintained its strong performance in the DStv Premium Afrikaans market through a mix of successful, long-running programming and the infusion of exciting new content that strengthened linear viewing. The lockdown period ensured that eNuus remained the biggest linear viewing driver, as kykNET's viewers sought up-to-date reporting in Afrikaans of fast-moving news events.
The reality series, Boer Soek 'n Vrou, once again emerged as the most viewed programme, attracting approximately a third of the Afrikaans viewer base per episode. Binnelanders was the top performing soapie on kykNET and achieved 24% growth YoY. Suidooster and Getroud Met Rugby also saw significant YoY growth of 37% and 20% respectively. kykNET also produced a staggering eight dramas over the year, with Spoorloos securing slightly over a quarter of the Premium Afrikaans market during its run.
Content like Arendsvlei, Suidooster and Koortjies Met Jonathan Rubain ensured that kykNET & kie further extended its reach into the Afrikaans market. Since October 2020, an additional Arendsvlei episode was broadcast per week, helping to significantly entrench viewership. kykNET & kie's ability to deliver captivating stories was evident as Suidooster explored the issue of polygamy and generated over 17m mentions on social media (a record in the history of the kykNET channels).
fliekNET! launched in September 2020 and quickly became a top performing movie channel. Notably, the 50-minute Storiefilms commissioned for fliekNET! were welcomed by the industry as they provided much needed job opportunities for artists. kykNET received positive media exposure for being an enabling partner to the industry, underscoring the quality of Afrikaans filmmaking. Racheltjie de Beer and Poppie Nongena competed at multiple festivals such as the San Diego Film Festival and secured distribution deals in North and Latin America, as well as Europe.
Throughout the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic period, Mzansi Magic continued to champion homegrown storytelling through an abundance of experiences in contemporary South Africa. Our agility and collaboration with industry players were demonstrated when Mzansi Magic hosted the 27th edition of the South African Music Awards in August 2020. Unlike previous editions of the South African Music Awards, the ceremony was broken into five episodes that aired between 3 and 7 August 2020. In partnership with Vodacom, the first four episodes were streamed to music fans, and the finale was broadcast live on Mzansi Magic on the fifth evening.
Evergreen favourite, The Queen, continued its strong performance in late prime time as it held onto just under half of the DStv Compact market. The River and Date My Family continued to drive ratings and social media engagement on Mzansi Magic – with each show regularly attracting over 1m viewers per episode and featuring among the top 10 most tweeted Mzansi Magic programmes.
The new telenovela, Gomora, broke viewership records as it increased viewership in its timeslot by over 140% YoY and emerged as the most watched programme on the channel. Despite going on a month-long production break at the height of the national lockdown, Gomora walked away with four wins at the Royalty Soapie Awards – including most popular soapie of the year, outstanding directing team, outstanding supporting actress (Sannah Mchunu) and outstanding newcomer (Sicelo Buthelezi).
One of the new reality series, Mnakwethu, showcased Mzansi Magic’s expertise in developing content that fuses traditional African rites and beliefs with evolving urban lifestyles. Mnakwethu also birthed a highly successful spin-off, Mnakwethu: Happily Ever After?, that excelled across linear, Catch Up, OTT and social media platforms. As the sun sets on Isibaya after almost a decade, the new telenovela, Diep City, paves the way for further growth on Mzansi Magic.
Boosting South African films
Supporting local filmmakers and the South African film industry remains a priority for us.
Over the past year, M-Net invested in developing and producing nearly 40 local pre-sales and high-end made-for-TV films. Despite the near shutdown of the local industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, M-Net was able to assist in breathing life back into an industry that was adversely affected. Notable films included:
- Barakat, a family comedy focused on the Muslim community and directed by rising talent, Amy Japhta. The movie made waves internationally, winning 12 nominations at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, and awards at three other international film festivals.
- Gaia, an unsettling horror film, won numerous awards, including a prestigious featured premiere at SXSW, and received international distribution into North America by Decal (which is responsible for the distribution of Oscar-winning Parasite).
- Our second Dalene Matthee feature film, Toorbos, was selected as this past year’s foreign film entry to the Academy Awards by the National Film and Video Foundation for South Africa.
Our comprehensive slate of third-party local and international channels delivers on our promise to bring the best brands home. It includes a wide variety of award-winning shows across genres.
This year, we added a wider variety of international foreign content to our offering, in line with the global audience demand and appetite for non-Americanbased content. In addition to the best of British content, we introduced Mexican and Turkish novellas and the award-winning Korean drama channel, TVN. We also added KIX, a new martial arts movie channel from Hong Kong.
During lockdown, we continued to delight with our best of brand kids offering and the addition of the Toonami and ZooMoo pop-up channels. We enhanced the Mindset curriculum proposition with the launch of Mindset Pop, a pop-up channel offering primary school curriculum content, and we made matric curriculum content available on Catch Up via Woza Matrics.
FY21 was a big year for news, as local news viewing dominated with COVID-19 updates. To address this critical audience demand, we ensured that each presidential address during lockdown was available on Catch Up. In extending our local and international news offering, Africanews was added to our line-up in FY21. Increased interest in political news further elevated the importance of news viewing this past year, with all news channels offering extensive coverage of the American and other presidential elections.
Our best-in-class documentary channels offered a wide range of features and blue-chip docuseries to our platform, including topical content such as Discovery Channel’s Pandemic: COVID-19 and COVID-19: Battling the Virus, Curiosity’s Breakthrough: Combating the Outbreak, the History Channel’s America’s Great Divide: From Obama To Trump and The Trump Dynasty, and BBC’s The Trump Effect: How He Changed America. In addition, viewers were treated twice to BAFTA award-winning narrator David Attenborough with Seven Worlds, One Planet and A Perfect Planet, produced by the BBC Studios Natural History Unit.
On the international reality front, we saw the end of one era and the beginning of another. E! Entertainment aired the final season of the reality series that spawned an industry, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, while the TLC reality franchise 90-day Fiancé and its accompanying spin-off shows generated cult-like fandom and enjoyed an unprecedented surge in viewing.
We extended the local third-party channel slate this fiscal, adding the first pan-African lifestyle channel, Honey, to our platform and local documentary channel, Wild Earth, which features two live daily game drives. We expanded the channel offering in Ethiopia with two dubbed channels catering to the local market, namely Zee Alem and Nick Jnr Ahmaric. Trace Muziki was also added to showcase East African music.
We continued to see an increase in third-party local content from international channels. During the year, BET added the local telenovela, Isono, the celebrity-driven reality series Mbau Reloaded and Her Majesty Busiswa. MTV sustained popularity with local reality series Moonchild, Lasizwe and Have Faith. E! Entertainment launched a successful second season of SAFTA award-winning Celebrity Game Night with host Anele Mdoda, and BBC Lifestyle continued with the sixth season of the ever-popular Come Dine with Me SA.
Our existing local third-party channels also continued to enjoy success on our platform. Moja Love’s popularity continued with the introduction of new emotive, resolution-based realities, including top-rated Dlozi’ Lami and Uthando Noxolo. VIA enjoyed continued success with many new local shows and popular favourites such as local crime series Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas and the popular weekly talk show, Minki.
With the likes of Lioness being selected as a hot pick by Television Business International and Dam scoring a 9/10 rating on IMDb, demand for our content from global buyers is at an all-time high and gaining momentum, albeit off a low base. This was demonstrated with various international distribution offers that we received for these two properties. Trackers, our co-production with HBO, was licensed to Canal Plus and will be dubbed into French.
Not only are our new titles driving global demand, our more established library titles, including The Queen, The River and Gomora perform well with local audience, and remain firm favourites for international buyers licensing follow-up seasons. The Mzansi catalogue in particular has been a significant contributor to our deals.
FTA channels in Africa experienced content shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This enabled the conclusion of several new licensing deals for shows including Jacob’s Cross, Maza, Chasing the Light, Collateral, Living the Dream with Somizi, The Ranakas, Tali’s Wedding Diaries, Date My Family, and Griekwastad, among others. This demonstrates the longevity of our library content, which still proves to be popular after it has been fully utilised on our platform.
Nigerian and West African channels
The Africa Magic brand remains a forerunner in Nigerian and West African general entertainment. In keeping with our commitment of consistently delivering the best local content to our highly engaged audience, we returned with yet another set of gripping telenovelas, Enakhe and Riona. Their unique combination of hyperlocal elements and authentic storytelling saw the continued domination of our original local content during prime time on our DStv Premium lead channel, Africa Magic Showcase.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which was at its peak in July 2020, we launched the groundbreaking fifth season of Big Brother Naija. This lockdown edition of the massively popular reality format drove a record 950m votes over the duration of the season, and attracted viewers across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.
Big Brother Naija was able to attract consistent audience engagement not only across linear viewing, but also on Showmax and the DStv app, and served to promote the adoption of our digital properties.
We consolidated our bid to diversify our content offering by introducing more local reality formats such as Judging Matters, Love Come Back, Mercy & Ike, Shoot Your Shot, as well as the Turn Up and Owambe Lockdown parties. These formats provided much needed entertainment to viewers across West Africa during lockdown and brought in fresh, engaged audiences that drove increased channel appreciation. Of all these new reality series, Mercy & Ike was the best performing. An example of how we are able to build on the successes of other pieces of local content, Mercy & Ike took audiences into the life of Mercy Eke (winner of the 2019 Big Brother Naija edition) and her fellow popular housemate, Ike Onyema, and dealt with their newfound fame, love and life.
East African channels
The East African channels continued to perform very well, with Maisha Magic Plus and Maisha Magic East being top-performing channels in the Kenyan DStv Compact and Access packages, respectively. Firm favourites such as Selina and Pete continued to drive viewership, and the reality series, Sol Family, gave audiences a peek into the lives of one of East Africa’s biggest boy bands, Sauti Sol. Sol Family was a key driver of talkability on social media platforms. The launch of Date My Family Kenya bolstered viewership in Kenya, and we subsequently extended the love to Uganda and Tanzania with their versions of the dating reality format.
Huba, the long-running telenovela in Tanzania, is Maisha Magic Bongo’s main anchor programme. Huba was the best performing telenovela in Tanzania, as it achieved 48% share across all DStv packages in the country. Huba also served as a strong lead into Maisha Magic Bongo’s new slate of late prime drama and comedy series that were introduced in the year. Slay Queen (45% share), Karma (35% share), Pazia (32% share) and Nyavu (21% share) all had an instant positive impact across DStv packages in Tanzania. This slate is emblematic of our continued commitment to ensuring we entertain audiences with authentic stories that resonate with viewers’ lives and interests.
In Uganda, we launched Pearl Magic Prime, a new channel for our DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact audiences. The channel launched to positive audience feedback as its pair of telenovelas, Sanyu and Prestige, quickly gained a following and drove viewership. These Pearl Magic Prime shows will later window down to Pearl Magic – which will create a pipeline to the lower-tier channel.
Additionally, the East African cluster experienced further growth with the launch of dedicated local content channels Akwaaba Magic in Ghana and Abol TV in Ethiopia.
Various events were held in the respective countries to usher in a new dawn of great local entertainment. The channel launches received media coverage and engagement on social media. We are confident that these channels will soon be top performers in their respective markets.
Southern African channels
The powerful duo of telenovelas, Zuba and Mpali, continued to drive Zambezi Magic over the past year. These telenovelas ensured that the channel continued to be the top-performing channel in Zambia. The introduction of a new drama, Makofi, and the second season of Ubuntu, helped increase viewership on Zambezi Magic.
On our DStv Access and DTT packages, OneZed continued to feature our great selection of library content that resonated well with audiences. The addition of the first season of Mpali on OneZed entrenched viewing, boosted performance and lifted the channel to become the top performer in this segment.
Notwithstanding the immense challenges of the year under review, SuperSport celebrated many amazing wins over the past 12 months. Perhaps the greatest of these was the SuperSport’s production teams’ ability to continue producing outstanding content during the pandemic, aided by SuperSport instituting strict protocols that employees embraced.
By operating in bubbles and often being away for long periods, employees embodied SuperSport’s can-do spirit.
Given the absence of live sport for several months, SuperSport created the on-air Relive campaign. The energy and creativity behind this ensured it was a success and piqued interest in documentary content.
In a seismic shift, SuperSport launched thematic channels to much acclaim last September, ensuring improved content discovery and a better user experience. This drove a 24% increase in the average time spent watching sport.
SuperSport maintained its compelling offering with acquisitions that include the EPL, the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA World Cup, WTA Tour and the ESPN channels, together with a growing commitment to women’s sport. It also extended its local sporting footprint through the acquisition of broadcast rights to the Ethiopian Premier League and kicked off an exciting new sponsorship agreement with the PSL in South Africa, with the league now branded as the DStv Premiership.
SuperSport’s new app hit the market and reflected a brand in tune with modern trends, its intuitive, customisable interface is packed with features. It boasted over 1.4m downloads and 730 000 average monthly users at year-end.
Storytelling was also given prominence, chiefly with the production and broadcast of Chasing the Sun, a sweeping documentary about the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph that set new standards for excellence.
However, against this successful backdrop, SuperSport mourned the passing of much-loved rugby presenter and commentator, Kaunda Ntunja, whose death from illness shook South Africa.