Edutainment top of the pops


According to the primetime TAMS (Television Audience Measurement System) provided by the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF), the eleventh series of SABC1’s edutainment show Soul City was ranked top drama across all local television channels for the period 26 December 2011 to 1 January 2012.

The show was also positioned second overall after daily soap opera, Generations, as one of the most watched television programmes in the country. This is a major feat considering that Soul City is a quarterly weekly series, running from October to January. It is also the longest-running primetime drama series broadcast on South African television to date, airing for 11 consecutive years.

Soul City Series 11 has been successful in reaching the black youth market (ages 4+ across all LSMs) and audience viewership figures show that on average, nearly seven million people watched each week, meaning that it consistently outperformed the majority of other popular dramas on SABC. In the period from 18 October 2011 to 10 January 2012 it delivered, on average, 18.6 ARs peaking at 20.7 and 53.6% share. This is 6% more than SABC 1’s timeslot target position of 47% viewership. The season’s final episode aired on Tuesday 10 January 2012.

The series formed an integral part of the Soul City Institute’s ongoing OneLove Campaign, a health communication project that tackles HIV/Aids through its campaign messaging: Talk, Respect, Protect. The Soul City Institute utilises broadcast, print and online platforms to communicate to the public about health and social matters, which have been formatted as edutainment, and Soul City Series 11 was one of these vehicles.

The series was also linked to a social media campaign called “Be There When the Sparks Fly’, implemented by June 15 Brand Movement. It encouraged viewers to tune in and then join weekly live chats on social networks Facebook and Twitter, where cast members (in character) and health experts discussed various topics and concerns. Soul City Series 11 was the first TV programme to launch such an online initiative and it proved very popular, demonstrated by 2 972 “Likes’ on its Facebook page, 485 people chatting about the show, 588 Twitter followers and 411 tweets and 528 views on YouTube. Although the show has ended, the aim is to continue to grow the online community by including blogs, forums and other online tools.

The senior executive of marketing at the Soul City Institute, John Modimo Molefe comments, “Due to the success of this initiative and the strong relationship we’ve built with our online community, we’ll continue with the popular weekly Thursday live chats on Facebook.’ He explains that the Facebook community suggests topics to be covered by the experts.

The primary objective of Soul City Series 11 was to educate viewers about three core topics, which were woven into the storyline. These were the prevention of mother to child transmission and the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, the benefits and outcomes of medical male circumcision with emphasis on evidence that male circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection up to 60% if performed properly, and lastly to create awareness around the national debt crisis and to highlight the importance of budgeting and setting realistic financial goals.


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