Tjovitjo Has Lost 1-Million Viewers ... and I'm not surprised

Tjovitjo burst onto the scene with a record breaking 5.8-million viewers for its debut episode but now the numbers are declining with each episode. 

Let me prefix this but just acknowledging how huge Tjovitjo's first two episodes achievement was. At a time when many people would tell you television is dying and critics lament about lack of groundbreaking television shows in SA, Tjovitjo came in and shuttered all that pessimism. 

Tjovitjo wins on numerous fronts; the show is well produced, the story behind its production and journey to screen is phenomenal, in the time of #OpenUpTheIndustry the show has taken to the call and introduced a number of new young actors into the industry and Vincent Moloi is a pioneer. 

Another point of appreciation goes to the efforts the channel, SABC 1, put behind promoting the show. They went all out on punting this show as the new best thing on television and they were rewarded handsomely with remote controls clicks to SABC 1 on Sunday at 20h00. 

So what went wrong ... 

For me, the show suffers from the same problem plaguing most drama series in South Africa — the writers write the scripts like they write for soapies. And I'm not alone in that thought. Gosh South African characters talk too much on screen! 

Many of the prolific screen writers in this country have honed their writing craft on soapies as that is where solid employment for writers was for the past 20 years. You see it in their writing style of dragging out storylines and shoving too much dialogue on their characters. Scenes and plot drags on without any real resolution or action. — that works in soapies to fill time, not in a limited run series.  

Unfortunately for Tjovito, it now exists in a time where local viewers are used to shows like Empire, How to Getaway with Murder, and our very own local shows like Isthunzi, Harvest, Lockdown and iNumber Number. 

With the latter show going head to head with Tjovitjo on the timeslot, the comparison was unavoidable and the contrast couldn't be any more glaringly obvious. On iNumber Number there is so much that happens in an episode that it makes an episode of Tjovitjo look and feel like Generations. 

Last week's episode of Tjovitjo pulled 4.6 million viewers, a million less than its debut episode. But this is not the end for the show because regardless of the viewership haemorrhage, it still has a huge audience pull over its competitor. However, superficial though it may be, the million viewers loss is a dent on what could have been this decade's pinnacle show.  

It is unlikely that the production can do anything about the pace or streamlining the storyline so expecting any changes is unrealistic here as the season has been shot and packaged. The only hope is that the changes would be made in season 2. Will they get another season? Yes, I believe they will. The show has revived SABC1's youth market brand messaging so it will stick around for a while. 

On the other hand, maybe this slow brew pace is intentional and the show will pick up in later episodes but I fear the lost audience may not return even if it did. 

Again, the production is good, acting impeccable, but the storyline is a yawn fest! For me.

Tjovitjo airs Sundays on SABC 1 at 20h00. 

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