The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) recently conducted a survey that revealed a 12.5% drop in households watching traditional linear TV between 2019 and 2023. Despite the increased number of households in South Africa from 17.3 million to 18.2 million, households watching linear TV decreased from 15.9 million to 13.9 million.
However, this does not indicate a decline in people watching TV altogether. When considering streaming as well, the number of South African households watching TV in 2023 increases to 16.5 million, which is almost 91%.
According to the BRC, this shift in South African viewing behaviour was caused by several factors, including lockdown, load-shedding, more affordable streaming options, higher internet and smartphone access levels, and the switch-off of analogue TV signals. In addition, the loss of income caused by the lockdown and other economic factors made it difficult for people in poorer households to buy or fix TV sets, which also contributed to the decrease in linear TV viewership.
The BRC’s survey was conducted using an 8,000-person sample, with 5,000 in-person interviews and 3,000 surveys completed online. It used a combination of face-to-face and online data to obtain a representative national sample.
The BRC will adjust its Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS) panel to align with the survey results, but any changes must be made at a pace that will not disrupt the panel too severely. TAMS ratings indicate how many people watched a show or channel at a particular time and help determine how much platform owners can charge for advertising.
The survey also showed that DStv and eMedia’s market share during primetime remained relatively flat between 2020 and 2023, even as the proportion of non-broadcast devices increased from around 15% to 20%. As of 2023, these devices are now second only to DStv’s primetime market share. The SABC saw declines across SABC 1, SABC 2, and SABC 3, while Openview’s primetime market share increased from just over 5% to around 13%. It is worth noting that DStv and Openview carry SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, and E-tv.
The BRC survey also revealed that 71% of South Africans still listen to the radio, with 62% using a radio set and 33% listening while commuting. Although more people are using audio streaming services, 62% of the respondents said they don’t use any music streaming app. Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in South Africa. The survey results also showed that around 74% of South Africans have regular internet access, with most accessing the internet from their smartphones and only 20% having a fixed internet connection at home.