by Richard Lord (@rlord182) Here are the top 10 television shows in South Africa for the month of October 2019. Because very few advertisers target all adults in South Africa, I have instead broken the data down broadly into the main market (LSM 4–7) and the high-income households (LSM 8–10).

Local content

The first thing that becomes obvious, whether looking at either market segment, is that the tops shows are all dominated by local content. Clearly local is very lekker when it comes to TV viewing in SA! What’s also interesting to note (depending on your outlook) is that the top three shows are identical for main market or high-income, proving that the rest of SA is not like Sandton (not a single M-Net show in sight). For advertisers wishing to speak to the top-end of the audience, the SABC provides the numbers in abundance.

But let’s look at the numbers, starting with the main market first…

Top 10 TV shows October 2019


LSM 4–7

Uzalo S1 10 935 422
Generations: The Legacy S1 9 722 510
Skeem Saam S1 6 509 864
Scandal 5 448 291
Muvhango S2 5 296 631
Makoti S1 4 604 855
SABC/NFVF Female Only Filmmaker Project S1 4 518 676
isiZulu News S1 4 283 657
Umphefumlo S1 4 119 422
Rhythm City 4 091 355

It should come as no surprise that this audience primarily watches the SABC channels. SABC 1 dominated the list in October, with seven out of the top 10 programmes, including Uzalo, Generations: The Legacy and Skeem Saam in the top three positions. The remaining three spots were taken by Muvhango on SABC 2, and’s two long-running soapies, Rhythm City and Scandal.

These six shows are consistently the most-watched in SA among the main market, so much so that the SABC, before moving across to Viu, used to put full episodes of its programmes on YouTube where people would use it as a type of “catchup” service. The big three of Uzalo, Generations, and Skeem Saam consistently generated hundreds of thousands of views per episode, often within days of having been uploaded. This shows just how much digital technology has changed the face of TV in SA and how the main market has embraced it to watch their favourite programmes.

But what about high-end households? What were they watching in October?

Top 10 TV shows October 2019


LSM 8–10

Uzalo S1 1 268 227
Generations: The Legacy S1 1 075 468
Skeem Saam S1 1 018 947
The Fate of the Furious 785 316
Scandal 766 283
Rugby World Cup: Wales vs South Africa SS1 699 832
Mad Max Fury Road 639 885
Furious Seven 596 835
Shell Helix Ultra Cup 2019: Kaizer Chiefs S1 568 491
isiZulu News S1 564 854

Two-horse race

It’s a two-horse race from a station perspective within the LSM 8–10 segment, with SABC 1 and dominating proceedings. Note that the Sunday night movie on is incredibly popular among high-income households, with three of’s top spots being a movie — Vin Diesel is clearly a big drawcard. The outlier for October was SuperSport 1, coming in at no. 6.

October was Rugby World Cup (RWC) and the pick of the games was SA’s semi-final against Wales, which was watched by almost 700 000 people in LSM 8–10. The match pulled in a total audience of 815 077 viewers across all demographics. The second most-watched RWC match that month was SA’s quarter final against Japan, which pulled in an LSM 8-10 audience of 619 063. The England vs New Zealand semi-final was the third-biggest RWC game in October, with 467 869 viewers.

Outside of this lone spot on SS1, Msanzi Magic’s Our Perfect Wedding was the best performing Dstv programme, with an average LSM 8–10 audience of 359 000 viewers. This placed it at no. 28 on the list.


The best-performing programme on M-Net was a Sunday night movie, Mission Impossible: Fallout, which was watched by 238 000 viewers.

And what of that old favourite of CEOs, MDs and marketing directors, Carte Blanche? The best performing episode of Carte Blanche in October achieved an LSM 8–10 audience of 210 000 viewers, with an average audience for October of 185 723 (or 1.94 ratings). As a matter of interest, the average Carte Blanche viewership amongst LSM 4–7 was 4 482 people.

It will be interesting to see what the November 2019 numbers hold for us, given the RWC final between SA and England on 2 November 2019. Given that this game was flighted on both SABC and SuperSport (whereas all previous games were only available on SuperSport), we may just see this match breaking into the top 10 among both the main market and the high-income households as well.


Richard LordRichard Lord (@rlord182) is media and operations director at Meta Media, South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of Nahana Communications Group (Interpublic Group of Companies). With over 20 years’ experience in the media industry and having worked for FCB, UM in London, and The MediaShop, he’s spent most of his career with IPG.

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