Baywatch is an American television series created by Gregory J. Bonann about the Los Angeles County Lifeguards who patrol the crowded beaches of Los Angeles County, California.
The series premiered in the USA on NBC in 1989, but was cancelled after only one season because of the high cost of producing it and low ratings. Feeling the series still had potential, David Hasselhoff revived it for the first-run syndication market in 1991, investing his own money and additionally functioning as executive producer.
The show was hugely successful, especially internationally. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Baywatch is the most watched TV show in the world of all time, with over 1.1 billion viewers.
Baywatch originally aired in South Africa on M-Net and was one of the first international shows to air on e.tv. It later aired on DStv's M-Net Series channel.
See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
During the 1990s, Baywatch was one of the most popular and profitable syndicated programs throughout the world.
With its mix of melodramatic plots, bikini-clad women and bronzed, bare-chested men, the series presented the California sun-and-surf lifestyle as it depicted the adventures of a team of lifeguards that patrolled the beaches around Los Angeles, California.
Although it was criticized as 'jiggle TV,' audiences in 145 countries embraced Baywatch and, at its peak, the program boasted more than a billion viewers.
Baywatch focuses on the relationships and rescues of a Southern California lifeguard unit led by Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff). The lifeguards routinely save drowning victims, battle drug smugglers, and face shark attacks while falling in – and out – of love.
The show made superstars of beautiful cast members like Yasmine Bleeth, Carmen Electra and Pamela Anderson - who went on to become an international sex symbol - and sealed The Hoff’s place as the most watched television star ever.
Baywatch's emphasis on its cast's 'wholesome sexuality' is the reason most often cited for its huge international acclaim.
In his Dictionary of Teleliteracy, David Bianculli identifies the reason for the program's success: "Basically, to ogle [is] an activity that knows no language barrier."
When Baywatch aired on NBC in 1989, it failed to attract a significant audience and was canceled after one season. However, its producers recognised its potential to garner a large international audience and chose to distribute it to independent stations around the globe.
The resulting enormous viewership and profits paved the way for other internationally syndicated programs during the decade.
Note: these broadcast details are for the run of the show on M-Net Series only. Broadcast dates for the runs on M-Net and e.tv are not available.
Each season consists of 22 hour-long episodes.
Premiere: 17 January 2006 | Finale: 13 June 2006 | Tuesdays, 18h00
Premiere: 28 November 2006 | Finale: 24 April 2007 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 7 August 2007 | Finale: 1 January 2008 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 17 June 2008 | Finale: 11 November 2008 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 18 November 2008 | Finale: 14 April 2009 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 13 October 2009 | Finale: 9 March 2010 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 16 March 2010 | Finale: 10 August 2010 | Tuesdays, 22h00
Premiere: 17 August 2010 | Finale: 11 January 2011 | Tuesdays, 22h30