In October 2014 Discovery Network’s TLC Entertainment celebrated its third
anniversary in South Africa with the launch of a new packaged programming slot:
The programming block offers viewers a selection of the channel’s shows which
have proved most popular – shock docs, taboo lifestyle shows, reality series,
celebrity interviews and all things that might make one gasp: “OMG’.
Oprah programming, Cake Boss and Find Me My Man are shows which have proven
very popular with South African audiences, some of whom can be seen talking
about the channel and reacting to OMG type show clips in TLC’s new promo. Lee
Hobbs, TLC vice president of channels and emerging business says: “TLC is a
channel that has really resonated in the market. People really hold the channel
dearly to their hearts and so we wanted to celebrate that and give our viewers the
chance to give us some feedback and also appear on the channel that they love so
Though South African audiences have been widely regarded as conservative, show
popularity and TLC’s 10% rise in viewership over the past year may suggest
otherwise. Shows like Sex Sent Me to the ER, My 600lb Life and Age Gap Love have
also proved to be hugely successful with local viewers.
“It’s interesting, we’re finding South African viewers really love that OMG type
television – television that makes you tweet or tell your friends about it in the
office,’ comments Hobbs, who believes viewers can relate certain aspects of their
own lives or personalities to TLC’s gripping reality entertainment. A viewer might
have a crazy family member for instance, like in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, or an
inner diva like the kind seen in Say Yes to the Dress.
“The wonderful thing about TLC is that we never judge, we’re not laughing at these
people we’re not judging these people we’re just celebrating all aspects of life.
Whether it’s the more unusual side or the everyday, and I think that’s why viewers
love TLC. You feel like you’re watching this amazing window on the world but not
judging at the same time,’ Hobbs adds.
Ilsa Grabe, business unit head and media manager for Carat Johannesburg
comments: “South Africans are conservative in general, we are a diverse nation
and very aware of being politically correct and mindful of cultural differences. I
know that when we test adverts we are often surprised at what offends consumers.
I do however think the under 18 generation are less sensitive as they grew up with
access to so much information.’
Grabe adds that this ever widening scope of choice, when it comes to content and
which platform to receive it from, could be changing the way South African
audiences behave. According to Hobbs, it comes down to the shows themselves.
“They are just really good stories and I think they appeal to everyone,’ he