Faced with a deluge of streaming services eager to take slices of its territory, DStv has been banking on two Aces up its sleeve. First, there is the usual indomitable exclusive access to Sports card that worked so well against Kwese TV (may it continue to rest in peace). Then there is the local content card with them investing millions of Rands in local content shows each year.
One of DStv’s local content vehicles has been Mzansi Magic. The channel has been home to many successful South African movies and TV shows including:
- The Fergusson’s “The Queen”, it has lost some of it’s lustre even since Shona Fergusson passed away and his wife had to take a leave of absence but it’s still draws crowds
- South African Idols
- Temptation Island South Africa, I recently wrote a review on the first few episodes of this one. Not an original concept but there is always something different about an international concept when it’s well adapted and features local actors and a distincitly African flavour
- Gomora, which I find it banal to be honest but Instagram, critics and viewer numbers are against me on this one
- The River, old episodes only. The River’s main home is 1Magic a premium channel
- Real Housewives of Durban, again not original but still popular
- Date My Family SA, one of those shows that makes zero sense but still gets people watching
- Rockville, another Fergusson thing
- Isibaya, this one is like The Walking Dead but instead of Zombies you have one tiresome taxi war after another after another.
- Uthando Nes’Thembu
N.B These are just a sample of the local shows featured on this channel alone. As already pointed out DStv has other channels like 1Magic and Mnet where they also produce local content.
DStv focuses on quality too
While the shows in the olden days used to be barely watchable with cheap sets, poor effects, poor video quality and shots these days the quality has also improved and is up there in terms of international standards. The MNet series Reyka is just the latest example of what DStv/Multichoice can do. The show not only features a stellar cast but it’s been syndicated and in other countries with SBS streaming the show too.
The strategy seems to be working and now DStv has just announced two new glitzy shows that are soon to be launched on Mzansi Magic to replace two ending shows Nqobile and Abomama.
- The first show is Umkhokha, described in the blurb as a story about two families at war with each other. If you didn’t know by now, almost every South African Telenovela/Soapie is about two families at war with each other. It’s what The River, The Queen, Gomora, Lingashoni, Legacy etc are all about. One rich family pitted against some poor family that’s always getting a shot end of the stick. Frankly I wish they would come up with better concepts but as the shows mentioned above clearly prove if you have quality writers the main arc doesn’t matter much. This show will be led by Linda Sokhulu (Ziyanda from Rythm City) and Nay Maps (from Uzalo) among others.
- The second show is called Grootboom and is about two sisters at war with each other-wrangling over a family funeral business. It will feature The Queen veteran Zandile Msustwana.
That Instagram factor in DStv’s local content push
In South Africa, Instagram is much more popular than it is in Zimbabwe thanks to cheaper data. Millions of youths and businesses are now on it and Multichoice and the companies it subcontracts have cleverly exploited the platform. Most people cast into these shows are often Instagram stars known for their socialite lives rather than acting.
It’s fact that has led to clashes with traditional veteran actors. They often complain that they earn less and are treated less fairly than Instagram stars cast into these shows. An example is a public spat between The River’s Larona Moagi and Moshidi Motshegwa that led to the latter leaving the show.
Hate it or love it, that strategy seems to be paying off as shows are effortlessly and freely promoted by these cast stars. As I pointed out shows like Gomora are actually average but they keep trending because of these social media campaigns. In return, the social media stars gain more followers and become household names creating a self-feeding success loop.
It’s a strategy a company like Netflix will never be able to emulate as they are overextended over hundreds of countries and territories.