Upstart e.tv gains in battle for auds

Viewers growing steadily since 1998

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s first commercial terrestrial station, e.tv, was the only channel to increase viewership in the second half of 2001 and is within two percentage points of becoming the country’s second-most-watched station.

The audience for e.tv, which bowed in 1998, has grown steadily against the three channels from pubcaster South African Broadcasting Corp., according to the South African Advertising Research Foundation’s audience measurement survey of viewing trends, released last week.

The English-lingo channel now captures 19.4% of adult viewers Monday to Friday, up from 16.7% for the first six months of 2001. SABC 1, stable at 47%, is unchallenged at the top. But e.tv has gained ground on second-placed SABC 2, which has pulled back to 21.2% from 22.3%.

SABC1 and SABC2 have public broadcasting mandates requiring them to provide information and education besides entertainment, SABC 1 in English and Nguni and SABC 2 in Afrikaans, Sotho and English. Fourth-placed SABC 3, an English-lingo entertainment commercial channel, also lost viewers, from 15.4% to 14.4%.

SABC is preparing to reposition all its channels and will announce details of the new direction in April.

In terms of share of time viewed, averaged Monday to Friday, e.tv maintained its second place with 16.4% behind SABC 1 with 50.3% and ahead of SABC 2 with 14.4%.

Soccer kicks off

E.tv hopes to up viewers on the back of the World Cup soccer tournament in Korea and Japan in June this year, having outbid the SABC for the free-to-air broadcasting rights in South Africa.

Survey also showed that South African adults watched an extra 18 minutes of television a week, taking their average time to 24.9 hours per week, with an average of 3.6 hours a day.

TV viewership was stable across the week, with patronage at 64.9% from Monday to Friday, 63.6% for Saturday and 62.7% on Sundays.

Pay TV channel M-Net saw a significant decline in its Monday-to-Friday viewership from 6.7% to 6.1%.

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