Games and reality strong in South Africa

Stations looking for new formats, SABC3 plans to cut back on dramas

Johannesburg – While the focus currently is on the huge television spectacle known as the Olympic Games, games of another sort are also occupying the energies of South Africa’s broadcasters, with at least one of them planning to use Mipcom to play catch-up.

After the enormous success of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — screened on Sunday evenings by pay television station M-Net — pubcaster the South African Broadcasting Corp. is about to follow suit with its own version of the formatted U.S. gameshow “Greed.”

The country’s third main broadcaster, commercial free-to-air station e.tv, says it, too, is now in the running for a formatted gamer of sorts.

“We’re considering one or two formats, and will be holding lengthy talks with one particular party at Mipcom,” says e.tv head of international acquisitions Charisse Tabak.

“Gameshows have universal and very broad appeal,” she says, adding that the local adaptation of a gameshow would help the channel reach its stringent 45% local content requirement due to be enforced starting next year.

The SABC, too, has realized the appeal of gameshows, with its flagship SABC3 channel due to launch “Greed” in October.

The trend, says SABC3 acquisitions manager Hannelie Bekker, is to cut back on dramas in favor of other genres.

“Particularly, game- and reality shows have entered our lineups,” Bekker says, adding that the channel is also reliant on long-running series of more than 22 episodes.

“As the market becomes more and more competitive we need series to run long enough to prove themselves capable of drawing substantial audiences,” she says. “Apart from a few renewals, we will be looking out (at Mipcom) for one or two high profile mini-series and a couple of exceptional documentaries.”

Over at the pay station, execs are enjoying the success of “Millionaire,” the most popular gameshow in the country, enabling M-Net to up its ad rates some 15%-20% in the prime slot.

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