The most popular TV shows on SABC and DStv during level 5 lockdown

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, South Africans were not allowed to leave their homes except for essential tasks and services.

Many were forced to look for entertainment that was not dependent on the outside world, and for this reason, there was a surge in data prices and TV viewership.

The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA) publishes monthly viewership figures for the SABC 1, SABC 2, and SABC 3 channels, as well as for Etv and DStv.

These figures reflect the monthly unique viewers that are aged 15 and above, and they reveal the most-watched television programmes in the country.

We looked at the figures for the first three months of the hard COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa – April, May, and June 2020 – to determine what people were watching over this period.

Local favourites Uzalo, Skeem Saam, The Queen, Scandal, and Muchango ranked highly, although regular updates from President Cyril Ramaphosa also featured prominently.

South Africans were eager to hear the government’s decisions on the nationwide lockdown restrictions, and therefore programmes which screened the President’s address saw a massive boost in popularity.

We have listed the most popular TV shows in South Africa during April, May, and June 2020 below.


April 2020

Most-Watched TV Shows – April 2020
Channel Show Peak Viewers
Top 5
SABC 1 Uzalo 11,407,540
SABC 1 Generations: The Legacy 9,544,765
SABC 1 Skeem Saam 8,844,068
Etv Scandal 6,255,257
SABC 1 Xhosa News 6,215,597
Top per channel
SABC 1 Uzalo 11,407,540
SABC 1 Generations: The Legacy 9,544,765
SABC 2 Muvhango 5,215,075
SABC 2 SABC News:Covid – 19 Updates 5,012,727
SABC 3 Contagion 4,465,588
SABC 3 News 1,034,275
Etv Scandal 6,255,257
Etv Rhythm City 4,863,649
DStv Gomora 2,510,542
DStv The Queen 2,360,221

May 2020

Most-Watched TV Shows – May 2020
Channel Show Peak Viewers
Top 5
SABC 1 Uzalo 10,597,540
SABC 1 Skeem Saam 9,013,729
SABC 1 Generations: The Legacy 8,785,046
SABC 2 President’s Update on Lockdown 6,862,788
Etv Scandal 5,986,978
Top per channel
SABC 1 Uzalo 10,597,540
SABC 1 Skeem Saam 9,013,729
SABC 2 President’s Update on Lockdown 6,862,788
SABC 2 Live Lotto Draw 5,323,689
SABC 3 Spy in the Wild 1,076,969
SABC 3 Music 751,331
Etv Scandal 5,986,978
Etv Rhythm City 4,653,579
DStv Uyajola 9/9 2,545,688
DStv The Queen 1,484,456

June 2020

Most-Watched TV Shows – June 2020
Channel Show Peak Viewers
Top 5
SABC 1 Uzalo 8,739,969
SABC 1 Generations: The Legacy 8,057,180
SABC 1 Skeem Saam 7,889,755
Etv Scandal 5,168,427
Etv Rhythm City 4,198,768
Top per channel
SABC 1 Uzalo 8,739,969
SABC 1 Generations: The Legacy 8,057,180
SABC 2 Muvhango 4,039,490
SABC 2 COVID-19: Update from the President 2,133,877
SABC 3 Natures Great Migrations 826,166
SABC 3 Animals with Cameras 742,328
Etv Scandal 5,168,427
Etv Rhythm City 4,198,768
DStv Uyajola 9/9 2,801,197
DStv Umndeni 1,400,826

Now read: The truth about iPhone prices in South Africa

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The most popular TV shows on SABC and DStv during level 5 lockdown