The Marketing Research Foundation (MRF) and Plus 94 Research unveiled the latest Maps data overview in May and it shows that South Africa has witnessed a significant transformation in media consumption habits, particularly a pronounced shift towards streaming services. This trend has been driven by a variety of factors, including the proliferation of digital platforms, competitive pricing, and the wide array of content available.

Gen Z is spending less on TVs and buying a handful of devices that can do more things. 

"The evolving landscape of media consumption is evident with audiences increasingly gravitating towards digital streaming options for their entertainment needs," explained Rinisa Naidoo, Plus94 project manager.

Traditional TV viewership has seen a marked decline. According to the Maps data, SABC 2 has experienced a notable decline since 2021, dropping by 133%.

Conversely, streaming services have witnessed a steady increase over the years.

This decline in traditional TV is attributed to the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, which led to signal loss and challenges in accessing TV channels.

The data shows that 76% of the streaming audience belongs to higher LSM groups, reflecting the economic divide in access to digital services.

With eight million people having access to streaming services, platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Showmax have emerged as the top choices among South African consumers.

“While YouTube doesn’t serve premium broadcast content, it does have scale,” says Leslie Adams, sales director at streaming experts Reach Africa.

“Google’s advertising resources indicate that in YouTube has around 25.1m users, which is largely thanks to its advertising video on demand (AVOD) model, where viewers can watch for free in exchange for having their viewing interrupted now and then by a few ads.”

Impact of load shedding

Another critical factor influencing this shift is the frequent load shedding experienced in South Africa.

The report indicates that the increase in load shedding incidents throughout 2023 has exacerbated these shifts in viewing habits.

"The challenging energy landscape has prompted consumers to seek alternative entertainment options, with streaming platforms offering convenient and uninterrupted access to content even during power outages," says Naidoo.

This evolution away from traditional TV makes sense, says Adams, when you consider that more so than any previous generation, Gen Z's life is lived on demand.

Another interesting trend highlighted by the survey is the increasing interaction on social media while watching TV.

The data shows that a significant number of viewers engage with social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to discuss the content they are watching in real-time.

Second screening is also on the rise among Gen Z. Source: Unsplash

"Consumers are using social media as a second screen, enhancing their viewing experience through live commentary and discussions with fellow viewers," adds Naidoo.

This interaction not only enhances viewer engagement but also provides valuable feedback for content creators and advertisers.

The rise of podcasts

In addition to streaming video content, South Africans are increasingly tuning into podcasts post-pandemic, with listeners appreciating the convenience and diversity of content available.

This rise in podcast popularity reflects a broader global trend and demonstrates the versatility of audio content in catering to various interests and lifestyles.

To understand the mindset of Gen Zs and younger Millennials, you need to consider the context, says Adams.

“This generation grew up during the most optimistic time in SA's history; they were born after apartheid, the much-loved Nelson Mandela was president, and SA had just won the Rugby World Cup. It was SA’s golden years; a time of joy, consolidation and celebration.”

But then they discovered hardship, she continues.

“They saw a recession, State Capture, a pandemic, several wars, the cost-of-living crisis, and a host of other challenges.”

“They know real depression. They've seen how easy it is to lose everything you've worked hard for.”

Economic forces steering technology adoption

The economic landscape of South Africa presents both challenges and opportunities for adopting new technologies.

The country's socioeconomic disparities are stark, with a significant portion of the population grappling with financial constraints.

This financial strain has led to more cautious spending behaviours, particularly in areas like dining and entertainment.

"As the average household income declines, behaviour shifts become apparent as careful buying becomes the order of the day," explains Naidoo.

Adams concurs, saying that ‘free’ is driving this technology shift.

“With the rise of AVOD and hybrid streaming services such as Viu – which has a huge youth viewing contingent and features SA’s biggest shows such as Skeem Saam and Uzalo – paid TV has naturally become the biggest victim of streaming.”

The shift towards streaming services in South Africa is a reflection of broader technological and economic trends.

As consumers continue to navigate the challenges of load shedding and economic disparity, digital platforms offer a resilient alternative for entertainment and information consumption.


All rights reserved. © 2022. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (