Zaziwa has always been one of my favourite shows in SA. I watched it religiously. The show also gave its host, Pearl Modiadie the distinction of being the highest rated tv host in the country when the show aired on SABC1 on Thursday. BUT for some reason, still unfathomable to me, they moved the show.
Since moving to Sundays, judged by the latest available television ratings, the show has plummeted by almost one million viewers from 12 February 2017. This cost it its spot on SABC1's Top 20 list having attracted less than 2,632,248 viewers for its highest episode in March — a loss of 928,133 viewers thus it was dropped from the list.
Given that in January 2017, it recorded an episode high of 3,560,381 viewers for its highest episode in the month when it still aired on Thursdays, it begged the question; why did they move the show?
Naturally I contacted SABC for answers and this is what Maijang Mpherwane had to say;
"Zaziwa remains a critical aspect of the schedule and its move from weekday to weekend is part of an overall strategy aimed at strengthening the S1 schedule while ensuring that the very schedule complements those of the other two channels.
As such, when looking at a performance of a programme, we take into consideration a number of factors including amongst others, how the schedules of all three channels are performing either within a time band or a specific slot.
Whilst the show may seem to have dropped in numbers, it is fulfilling a specific cause which is in line with the strategies we set for the channels for the current fiscal."
On whether the show will ever be returned to its previous slot given that the current placing has not worked out, he said;
"There hasn't been discussions at this stage to move the show out of the current slot it is in. If that ever happens, an announcement will be made accordingly. "
Obviously I am a tad confused about why the SABC would move around shows that are doing well in their timeslot. It doesn't seem like a well thought out process. Why try and fix something that is not broken?
So I asked what exactly is the motivation behind the decision to reshuffle shows at the SABC. To that he replied;
"The decision to reshuffle shows is largely a strategic one which as expressed before, is informed by a number of factors such as the channel's priorities, positioning, mandate, audience availability, commercial viability, network complementarity and a host of other factors that cumulatively may influence the need to make specific changes to one or all of the schedules across the three channels.
You will note that in this case, the changes started with S2 in January, followed by S1 in February and S3 in March. All this work was done last year. We are confident the schedules will give us the returns we require."
Ohhhkay... I will not pretend to be some know-it-all but from a numbers point of view, I am not convinced. Had Mr Mpherwane just said 'we tried something hoping to attract the same number of viewers from Thursdays to Sundays and it hasn't worked out' I probably would have thought it understandable, it is business.
However, the idea that Zaziwa, though losing viewers, it is somehow fulfilling some strategic plan that is of benefit to the SABC, is really hard for me to buy —unless if that strategy is to sacrifice the show for some greater benefit for the entire schedule, then maybe I can swallow that.
As a former fan of the show (I say former because I am clearly part of the almost on million viewers they have lost, I have not watched the show on its Sunday slot), I am disappointed that there isn't even some discussion to revert the show to its original slot.
What concerns me is that the Sunday slot may just kill the show, that by the time they come to their senses and return it to Thursday, most of its viewers would have lost interest.