Anxiety and fear around the Covid-19 global pandemic and public upheaval in South Africa drove South African television news ratings to new highs, with millions of viewers tuning in to find out what was going on.
On the night of March 30th, veteran anchor Noxolo Grootboom’s final SABC isiXhosa TV news broadcast at 19:00 on South African television drew a massive audience of 3.82 million to SABC1.
The 3 823 686 viewers represented a 33 per cent share, implying that one out of every three TV sets tuned in during the timeslot to watch her.
Although not entertainment content, every single televised presidential address and “family meeting” of president Cyril Ramaphosa in 2021 drew millions of viewers for each broadcast, as viewers watched him speak live on SABC, e.tv, and the three TV news channels of eNCA (DStv 403), SABC News (DStv 404), and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) – from Covid lockdown announcements to speaking about public looting and unrest in South Africa.
The Zulu TV news bulletin on SABC1 remained the single most-watched piece of TV news content on television, and it continued to rise in the rating race as it garnered millions of new viewers.
Newzroom Afrika dethroned eNCA as the most-watched TV news channel for the first time on Monday, July 12th, during the rioting and looting as it saw a rush of pay-TV viewers, propelling it to the top of TV news ratings in that month on MultiChoice’s DStv.
Linear TV programming continues to triumph over streaming services, rising from a tiny base.