Similar to the way in which the illegal downloads and sharing of the hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones is a good/bad problem for HBO to have since it's indicative of highly prized premium content viewers simply feel they have to see, M-Net (DStv 101) now has the same problem with The Voice SA.
People without access to the M-Net channel want to see entire episodes in full and are now going to cyberspace to get and see what they don't have access to.
M-Net executives who originally said The Voice SA will only be for the M-Net channel as its new premium local content production for the year, quickly relented and also scheduled the show for lower-tiered DStv subscribers with episodes now also running on the M-Net City (DStv 115) channel.
Within hours of the Sunday night broadcast of the first episode three weeks ago The Voice SA was uploaded to numerous online (and illegal) sites. The phenomenon has continued with each of the already aired three episodes becoming available on Monday mornings and shared online very soon after it’s broadcast locally.
The last time an audience became desperate to watch a local South African show was with the first season of Pawn Stars SA on A+E Networks UK's History (DStv 186) in late 2014.
Before that it was also an M-Net show in early 2014 that created must watch cyber buzz. Survivor South Africa: Champions became the first South African show that turned into an online watching and sharing TV sensation as a global audience downloaded and watched pirated episodes.
Asked what M-Net makes of the illegal uploading and downloading of The Voice SA episodes – a show produced by AMPN in conjunction with the international format right holder Talpa international – the pay-TV broadcaster told Channel24 that it's great that the show is loved but that it is damaging to the local TV industry.
"Even though this behaviour illustrates that our audiences love reality shows such as The Voice and want to share it with friends and family, piracy is illegal and potentially damaging to the local television industry," says Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity.
"If The Voice SA fans in other countries would like to follow the show, they can find clips of all the performances and highlights of the show on our official online platforms."