The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) launched an experimental broadcast service in May 1975. Following this a single channel, focusing on English and Afrikaans programming, was released nationally on 6 January 1976. In 1981 a second channel was introduced focusing on African language programming in Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana.
In 1986 South Africa’s first pay-TV station M-Net went live, and was followed by the launch of MultiChoice’s multi-channel digital satellite TV (DSTV) service in 1995.
A year after the launch of DSTV, the SABC reorganized its television channels, mainly to be language based, and called the three new channels SABC 1, SABC 2 and SABC 3.
A fifth terrestrial television channel, eTV, started broadcasting in October 1998 and quickly gained ground as South Africa’s first commercial free-to-air television station.
Since the humble beginnings of only 1 TV channel in the 1970’s, South Africa currently has over 90 channels across the terrestrial and Pay-TV satellite platforms.
TV station popularity
According to the 2008 All Media Products Survey (AMPS) figures, 83.7% of South Africans watch television, making it the second most popular medium to access information after radio. This begs the question as to which television stations and shows are the most popular.
The AMPS figures show that SABC 1 is the most popular television station with a weekly viewership of 22 million. SABC 2, eTV and SABC 3 attract 18.8 million, 17.9 million and 14.9 million weekly viewers respectively.
DSTV has a weekly viewership of 5.3 million while M-Net has just over 2 million viewers per week.
TV Show popularity
According to the latest AMR TV Ratings the most popular show in South Africa is Generations, followed by Soul City and Tshisa. The top five is completed by Ubizo: The Calling and A Place Called Home. The top 5 shows in South Africa are all SABC 1 programs.
The most popular show on SABC 2 is Muvhango, followed by Mponeng, 7 de Laan, Khuleka and Nuus. SABC 3’s top shows are Days of Our Lives, Oprah Winfrey Show, Isidingo, News and National Geographic.
The Live Lotto Draw is the most popular amoung eTV viewers, followed by Johnson Family Vacation, Rhythm City, Four Brothers and International RAW.
Carte Blanche, In the Valley of Elah, Idols, Grey’s Anatomy and Egoli are the most popular shows on M-Net.
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