Does the magic really live on MNet?

Before you read further, I’d like you to stop and list the primary commercial TV stations in Mzansi, as reflected in AMPS. Quickly! Top of mind!
If your list looks like this … SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, ETV, MNet, DSTV and TopTV … then you’re in tune with the vast majority of media planners in this country. MNet still seems to command a place at the main ad revenue table. So much so, that the vast majority of TV schedules aimed at the Upper Middle-Class & Elite markets (LSM 8-LSM14 using the Muller Cluster Model) will include some commercial time on MNet at a massively inflated CPP premium. I’m not talking 5-10% premium here. I’m talking the nasty stuff with an extra zero on the end.
Why would anybody pay at 100%-300% premium to retain MNet on a schedule? What is the magic that supposedly lives on MNet? More importantly perhaps, is why does the magic cost so much & could we find the magic somewhere else at a reasonable price? Here’s a clue. This year, MNet celebrated its 25th birthday!
For many media decision makers, the FIBD principle (First In Best Dressed) has imparted to MNet some sort of mystical media quality. As if it’s still the proverbial viewing oasis in the SABC programming desert, that it used to be 25 years ago. There are even advertisers who still blissfully follow the Carte Blanche & Sunday Night Movie scheduling ritual irrespective of the evidence that clearly shows that, for pay TV households, family viewership no longer congregates around this viewer behavior pattern.
The release of AMPS 2011BA, and the expanded data set for decoder ownership & pay-tv viewership provides a totally different insight though. Of the +/- 3,1million households that have some form of Multichoice decoder in the home, there are only 116,000 standalone MNet decoder households. In fact, there are more TopTV decoder households (137,000) in the marketplace than standalone MNet decoders! Of the 947,000 adults who watch MNet every day, 785,000 (83%) watch it on DSTV. For 83% of MNet viewers, it’s just another channel on their DSTV bouquet.
So, here’s the question. Despite the fact that AMPS lists MNet as a “commercial TV channel”, does data mining really support the view that MNet is a primary TV station? Or is it just another content silo on DSTV? Well so what if it’s a channel on DSTV you say, it’s still the biggest & the best! Apparently not! Yesterday viewership on DSTV, relegates MNet to 13th position, behind channels such as Movie Magic, MNet-Action, ENews and even Africa Magic.
So what is the magic that supposedly lives on MNet and why does it cost so much? You could of course ask DSTV but they won’t tell you because, as you know, a really good magician never gives away the secret of the magic trick.
We all like a bit of magic but not at any price.