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The times (and channels) are a-changing

TV
Last week, MultiChoice held its media showcase for 2017, where a few channel changes were announced, along with an overview of the smorgasbord of content on offer.

When it comes to content, Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice’s Head of Content, is on the pulse of international trends. Not just that, we have her to thank for bringing us some of the great shows on our screen.

MultiChoice’s Head of Content Aletta Alberts

First things first, she takes us through the channel changes.

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Training Day with the late Bill Paxton and Justin Cornwell has been added to the upcoming line-up. Photo: Supplied

She says: “On the M-Net channels, the first point that is very, very important to make is that no content will disappear. So although, we are reducing the channels, we will still have the same amount of content. They just won’t have the early evening and late night repeats.That will fall away.”

Alberts continues: “We have reduced the movie channels, which was the biggest issue. We are reducing the series channels. We have already terminated CBS Drama and CBS Reality. Then, over the weekends, we are looking at new content and reducing excessive stacking - not only on the series channels but also on the documentary channels.”

She acknowledged consumer feedback about “too many repeats” across channels.

She notes: “On the lower tiers, say a title is very popular, like NCIS, they would then go and buy a second window after it comes off M-Net. I think that sometimes frustrates the consumer to a great extent. For example, Top Gear was a big irritation, so there are new episodes coming. Last year, things like Storage Wars and Pawn Stars became a hit, everybody looks at that trend and start making similar or derivative shows. It starts confusing the audience. Also, we’ve noted that audiences get title fatigue. It works until it doesn’t.”

Viewers would have noticed the introduction of pop-up channels. Alberts says: “We have a martial arts one coming up. We are also doing The Fast and the Furious.”

National Geographic’s first scripted drama, Genius, has been added to the upcoming line-up. Photo: Supplied

On the factual content side, she highlighted shows like Genius, The Story of God 2, with Morgan Freeman, and a documentary on Pablo Escobar’s hidden millions.

She adds: “What you mustn’t forget is that in June and July, you are going to see a lot of royal stuff. It’s the 20-year anniversary of Lady Diana’s death and the Windsor family centenary celebrations. You are going to see great stuff on both BBC and ITV Choice. Whenever we have anything royal, people love it.”

Alberts expands on the growing trend of Hollywood movies being turned into TV series as well as heavyweight actors and producers migrating to the small screen.

She notes: “I think you have seen Taken, Training Day and Lethal Weapon. Training Day has now officially been cancelled in the US because Bill Paxton has died. Also, it didn’t do as well. Both Taken and Lethal Weapon did extremely well. They got it right, in terms of the casting and characters.

“And then you will see they just recently announced that the Coen brothers are producing a TV series. Daniel Craig has turned down the James Bond franchise to do two TV series. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are in Big Little Lies. Then you have Martin Scorsese doing TV. The Chicago franchise is getting bigger with Chicago Justice. I love the way the characters cross over, too.”

From 2010 until December last year, the content coming out of Hollywood has increased from 210 to 470 offerings.

She notes, “And that’s just the US, not any of the British, European or Scandinavian content.”

Viewers can also look forward to more Turkish and Indian telenovelas debuting on the small screen along with a host of international subtitled offerings.

Alberts says: “I always joke with my friends and say, ‘Liberate your mainframe’. I think audiences are doing that. People are exposed to different types of content. And all of a sudden, things that you thought people would never watch because it’s dubbed or subtitled, people are finding and watching.”

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