by Richard Lord. During August 2020, the South African economy continued to open up as we dropped to level 2 lockdown mid-month. With many more South Africans were back at work, back at school and on the roads, media consumption figures responding accordingly.

What the president had to say was still very important to South Africans, with his most-recent address to the nation on Saturday 15 August attracting a total TV audience of 6 838 396 viewers. We saw 5.6m LSM 4–7 viewers and 1.2m LSM 8–10 viewers tuning in. This was enough to put the president’s latest speech in the top five most-watched shows among both audience segments.

Top 10: Main market

For the main market, however, we saw no change in the top three programmes (unsurprisingly), with Uzalo, Generations: The Legacy, and Skeem Saam holding firm.

LSM 4–7 top 10 shows for August 2020



Uzalo SABC 1 9 029 528
Generations: The Legacy SABC 1 7 471 463
Skeem Saam SABC 1 6 407 128
President’s Address SABC 2 5 563 005
S’gud S’naysi SABC 1 4 378 566
Scandal 4 253 822
Zulu News SABC 1 4 238 254
Xhosa News SABC 1 3 852 747
Muvhango SABC 2 3 757 710
Lobola SABC 1 3 729 307

Scandal remained the only show on in the top 10 in August with Rhythm City dropping from no. 7 in July down to no. 11. The other favourite, Imbewu, was in spot no. 12 for August. This means that the SABC was completely dominant in providing the main market’s favourite TV shows, with SABC 1 claiming seven of the top 10 shows and SABC 2 a further two. In fact, if we look at the top 20 shows, the SABC accounted for 17 of those shows.

As per the trend we’ve been following since May, when the hard lockdown slowly started easing month by month, August saw a continued decline in total audience among the top three shows as more and more people returned to work.

Mar 2020

Apr 2020

May 2020

Jun 2020

Jul 2020

Aug 2020

Uzalo 9 486 146 11 382 535 11 302 538 9 590 008 9 101 218 9 029 528
Generations 7 829 601 9 671 777 9 148 977 8 473 225 7 655 935 7 471 463
Skeem Saam 5 784 067 8 788 444 8 914 540 8 128 294 7 126 805 6 407 128

Top 10: High-income earners

The SABC wasn’t quite so dominant within the high-income segment as it’d been in previous months, however, with only five out of the top 10 shows, compared to seven in July.

LSM 8–10 top 10 shows for August 2020



Uzalo SABC 1 1 284 055
President’s Address SABC 2 1240 966
Skeem Saam SABC 1 950 197
Generations: The Legacy SABC 1 928 165
The Queen Mzansi Magic 737 910
Scandal 613 403
Gomora Mzansi Magic 610 629
Imbewu 603 765
Zulu News SABC 1 590 673
Rhythm City 498 264

Rhythm City on returned to the top 10, as did Imbewu, which we haven’t seen in the top 10 for some time (we have to go all the way back to March for the last time Imbewu made the list).

Interestingly, though, high-income audiences aren’t declining in the same way that we’re seeing in the main market. The average show for the top 10 attracted 805 803 viewers in August vs 767 169 in July. That’s an increase of 5% month on month. When we compare this with the main market, there’s a 1.2% decrease. Why this might be, I’m not sure. Perhaps more people in the main market are by necessity returning to work, spending more time commuting, and therefore have less time to watch TV? One can only hypothesise.

Fish where the fish actually are

For those new to this monthly analysis, you might be wondering where M-Net shows rank on the list. Its best-performing show in August among LSM 8–10 was the Sunday night movie, Angel Has Fallen. This ranked in 51st place and generated an LSM 8–10 audience of 264 519 viewers. The second-best show on M-Net was Carte Blanche, in position no. 75, with an average audience of 203 557 viewers.

This once again highlights the importance of using data in order to make media-buying decisions. It’s important to fish where the fish actually are, and not where we think the fish are! Despite the lower audiences of individual shows, M-Net and DStv can offer great value, nevertheless, when bought as part of a package deal. DStv packages are massively discounted, offer loads of spots, and can assist in increasing the frequency of your TV campaigns and, of course, can offer much tighter targeting, reduced wastage, and provide relevant environments for your ads to appear in. So, while you might not see a lot of DStv programmes in the top 10, they certainly can be very worthwhile including in your plans.


Richard LordRichard Lord is media and operations director at Meta Media, part of IPG and Nahana Communications Group. Watched analyses monthly TV audience viewership figures in South Africa.

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