by Richard Lord (@rlord182) It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new opportunity for advertisers and media owners alike to try new things, be creative, break with the conventional and stand out. But before I get into the new year, I need to wrap up 2019 and look at what December last year had in store for us from a TV-viewing perspective.

No major events

The thing that stands out for me, when looking at last month’s data, is that there weren’t any major events that dominated the TV ratings and drew in massive audiences. With South Africa essentially going on leave for the month of December, our TV screens were dominated by the usual local fare of dramas and soaps.

Main market

These were the top 10 shows (averaged data) for the main market (LSM 4–7).

Top 10 TV shows December 2019


LSM 4–7

Uzalo SABC 1 8 535 240
Generations: The Legacy SABC 1 7 217 946
Skeem Saam SABC 1 4 713 827
Muvhango SABC 2 4 218 781
Scandal 4,047,442
Come Duze 2020 SABC 1 3 388 898
Makoti SABC 1 3 281 755
Imbewu: The Seed 3 247 730
Miracle SABC 1 3 190 707
Shakespeare in Mzansi: Death of a Queen SABC 1 3 184 656

The first point to note about the December figures is that, while Uzalo, Generations, and Skeem Saam consistently remain the top three programmes watched by the main market, the December audiences were lower than they were in November…and quite significantly!

Top 5 LSM 4—7 Nov 2019 vs Dec 2019

Nov 2019

Dec 2019

% Diff

Uzalo 10 606 852 8 535 240 -19.5%
Generations: The Legacy 9 331 778 7 217 946 -22.7%
Skeem Saam 5 819 989 4 713 827 -19.0%
Muvhango (SABC 2) 4 803 688 4 218 781 -12.2%
Scandal 5,079,616 4,047,442 -20.3%

The biggest show outside of the usual suspects was Come Duze 2019, which is an annual New Year’s Eve countdown show on SABC 1, featuring celebrities, musicians, DJs and actors.

The second thing to note is that 7 of the top 10 shows aired on SABC 1. SABC 1 was the clear audience winner among the main market in December!


Now let’s have a look at the high-income earners:

Top 10 TV shows December 2019




Uzalo SABC 1 1 071 010
Generations: The Legacy SABC 1 848 952
Skeem Saam SABC 1 823 785
Scandal 620 857
The Queen Mzansi Magic 593 440
Imbewu: The Seed 535 345
Zulu News SABC 1 489 832
Come Duze 2020 SABC 1 479 235
Chips (movie) 47 ,178
Our Perfect Wedding Mzansi Magic 468 858

When looking at the top 10 shows among LSM 8–10, we’re again struck with how similar the list is to the LSM 4–7 list (sharing six of the same top 10 programmes). This highlights, once again, just how wrong marketers’ perceptions of what TV shows high-income earners in SA are watching: they’re not watching M–Net; they’re watching SABC, and exactly the same shows as the main market. For interest’s sake, the top performing show on M-Net was a movie called Second Act, which features at no. 62 on our list with an LSM 8–10 audience of 228,000 viewers.

Also notice just how much smaller the LSM 8–10 audiences are, compared to the main market. Uzalo’s average LSM 4–7 audience in December was 8.5m viewers, compared to just 1.0m LSM 8–10 viewers.

Whereas SABC 1 dominated the top 10 shows for the main market, we see that and Mzansi Magic (the only DStv channel to crack the top 10) made up 50% of the top shows watched by the high-income earners. Both segments were clearly up for a New Year’s Eve party, however, with Come Duze 2020 featuring in the top 10 among both segments, with a combined audience of almost 4m viewers.


Finally, what about sport?

After the highs of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in November, rugby still remained a popular sport on the Dstv platform, with the Rugby Sevens in Cape Town being one of the most-watched sporting events by the high-income earners. It was watched by 289 000 people on SuperSport 1, compared to the 789 000 who watched the RWC final.

For the main market, unsurprisingly, it was soccer, soccer, and more soccer. The Telkom Knock Out soccer match between Maritzburg United and Mamelodi Sundowns was watched by 2.8m people [for those who’re interested, Sundowns beat Maritzburg 2-1, coming from 1–nil behind with two late goals by Mauricio Affonso in the 54th and 74th minutes — I love Google :) ].

And those are your top 10 TV programmes for December!

* This story was updated at 2.12pm and 3.40pm on 20 January 2020. Scandal was ‘averaged’ regardless of the stations flighted, which inadvertently pulled the figures down. Scandal on, for example, was flighted on’s main channel, as well as its OVHD channel, eExtra. The eExtra channel obviously has a much-lower audience than itself, so it was pulling the numbers down. While the numbers in the original article were correct, the programmes were being averaged across multiple channels, which is the incorrect way of showing them. We regret the error.


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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