Media Un-usual

This past month’s lockdown has had an interesting impact on how South Africans consume media. Coupled with the millions of South Africans staying home and the need for ongoing information about the coronavirus, South African media expectations have changed. By the end of March 2020, South Africa had a total of 1,353 Covid-19 cases and five deaths. Just over one month later, we enter stage 4 of the South African lockdown with these numbers soaring to 6783 cases and 131 deaths as at 4th May.


In partnership with Borderless Access, BMi Research conducted an online survey* to understand how the lockdown impacted media consumption. The survey indicates that the lockdown has changed the content accessibility South Africans expect from their media providers. An overwhelming 96% and 93% claim that access to news and education respectively, are important to them. Media channels that address these needs will receive good viewership over this time. Following news and education, are movies (85%) and TV series (84%), suggesting that many South Africans have time on their hands to be entertained at home, whilst 73% say that access to religious content is important. Music content is important to three quarters of the sample, with 64% claiming to actively listen to or stream music online and 62% claiming to actively download music. Conversely the need for live sports (26%) and sport repeats (23%) is low and deemed to be largely unimportant for now.


With 22% citing that they won’t have regular income after the lockdown, one would assume that South Africans might consider cancelling their subscriptions to pay TV and entertainment channels. However, only 4% claim to be considering cancellation currently.


With the lockdown now entering five stages, we may find that citizens reshape their consumption based on the notion that we’re in this for the long haul. For the foreseeable future at least, media channels that provide access to relevant and current news, education and entertainment pose an attractive opportunity for media providers and advertisers.


| Jenni-Ruth Coggin, key account manager at BMi Research



Kevin Kruger: [email protected]

Jenni-Ruth Coggin: [email protected]

Cindi Collett: [email protected]

Danie Botha: [email protected]


Borderless Access is an award-winning digital MR product and solutions company. Driven by technology and consumer-analytics, it provides access to experiences and life moments of engaged consumers, to its global clientele of MR firms, Ad Agencies, Consultancy firms, and End Enterprises, with its 5.8M+ hyper-niche proprietary digital panels and innovative research solutions and platforms – TAPP, SmartSight, and HealthSight


Bev Tigar: [email protected]


*Of the 509 panel participants, 100% were South African and living in South Africa during the lockdown. 39% were in Gauteng, 23% in the Western Cape and 13% in Kwa Zulu Natal. 63% were female, 70% were aged 18-44 years old, 35% were Black and 50% were White. The sample was distributed equally across income groups.