Free To Air Tv audience decline in Africa
New data shows that it has not been a good year so far for Africa’s traditional television industry with reports that prime time audiences are down almost 22% in South Africa, 19% in Nigeria and 16% in Kenya amid competition from internet streaming services.The decline in the number of Africans watching traditional television has not just occurred since the introduction of online streaming services such as Showmax or Netflix. The trend has been evident for some time now from the audience monitoring data companies in the region.The key reason for the change in television viewing habits is the internet, which has led to a large uptake of new screen media devices such as computers both desktop and portable, smart phones and tablets.There has been claims that Africa’s media groups are quick to make claims about the importance of free speech, disclosure and transparency and demand it from government, business and others, but not themselves. Despite some of them claiming to have expanded data that captures all of the advertising revenue spent by advertisers and their agencies on commercial TV, the new data your blogger has shows that such system actually cuts the amount of information disclosed contrary to what they tell advertisers which has led to the declining advertising revenues since most advertisers don’t trust TV stations figures.In fact, the data which I’ve analyzed shows that for all the claims of comprehensiveness, the Free To Air Tv industry lacks transparency, it is a way of confusing rather than explaining the advertising problem the commercial TV industry finds itself in. The lack of any breakdown in the industry data echoes a similar complain last year about the amount of advertising in print. The figure given had no breakdown between the differing forms of advertising except the claim that print accounted for half of the figure and digital less than 40%. No breakdown between newspapers, magazines, newspaper inserted magazines. The same problem has spread to Free To Air Tv stations.Online creators are successful in Africa as your blogger, a streaming industry insider has learned that programs differ from what is on commercial Free To Air stations. Many have a shorter format and, more importantly, presenters who engage with viewers as if they were speaking directly to them. The content on Showmax and Netflix could, for the most part, be described as niche, an area commercial broadcasters don’t engage with. Television broadcasters need to present popular broad programming to get as many people as possible viewing at the same time. This is fundamental to a business model based on advertising, which is gauged by viewers.Africa’s new online media distributors have shown you can still gain a large audience for niche content, when it is presented globally.
Engagement with Showmax and Netflix will only continue to grow as smart televisions fill living rooms. By 2018, more than 10% of television sets in Africa are expected to feature smart connectivity.This will open up further possibilities and ease of access to these services across all age groups.In the era of Subscription Video On Demand in Africa(SVoD), the free-to-air broadcasters writing is on the wall and they can no longer afford to stuck its head in the sand and they need to start managing the transition to streaming. There will need to work on good content with quality up to the channels available to satellite providers like DSTV and broadband providers like Zuku customers.The free-to-air broadcasters who are too busy squabbling in their management meetings to put up a decent fight against streaming service providers like Showmax and Netflix are going to close shops in less than a decade. Rather than circle the wagons and create a cross-network streaming platforms supported on a wide range of devices, Africa’s free-to-air broadcasters are focused their efforts on old business models and will hardly compete with subscription services going forward.What this data indicates is that African broadcasters can’t even rely on the older generation to prop up the numbers as traditional television continues to bleed viewers.The television remains by far the most-watched screen in African homes and people are watching an average of 1 hours and 25 minutes of broadcast television each day, according to the data. This still dwarfs the amount of time Africans spend watching alternatives like Showmax and Netflix, but when you scratch beneath the surface the report paints a grim picture for the future of Africa’s traditional broadcasters.When I looked at people under 35, the next generation of seniors, viewing figures had dropped around 33 percent in only 6 months in 2017 which didn’t bode well for the future. One can’t assume that a generation which will grow up with Showmax and Netflix will suddenly flock back to traditional broadcasting when they hit retirement age.This January to June 2017 covering South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya figures show that this plunge is accelerating, with average broadcast viewing dropping 9.9% in the same period even the older people starting tuning out. The watching among the 50+ demographic stagnated, but this time around the 50-64 demographic showed decline of 11% while the supposedly rusted on 65+ demographic actually declined by more than 20%.Africa’s traditional broadcasters can put on a brave face and talk about their digital strategies, but reality is that Africans clearly spend more time watching online content, Showmax, Netflix than they spend watching any individual Free To Air Tv. My warning to them is that they are clearly sitting on a time bomb and the ticking is getting louder with these figures.