Thema launches VOD service for the African diaspora in France

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Thema has pioneered offering a bouquet of African channels to the diaspora in France with considerable success in subscriber terms. It is now turning its attention to offering a VOD service to its growing number of viewers. And meanwhile Gabonese TV channel 3A Telesud on Bouygues Telecom’s Canal 215. Most of this innovation is happening in France but surely the same opportunities exist in Anglophone markets? Russell Southwood looks at what’s happening. Also in the issue, Sylvain Beletre went to MIPCOM to see what it meant for the African industry – see the Distribution section below.

French distributor Thema which launched a 6 channel African diaspora bouquet in France has increased the number of channels to eight and has attracted 46,000 subscribers, well beyond its initial target. Some of its distributors are reporting that Thema’s African bouquet is one of their best sellers.

It will shortly launch a VOD African content offer based on a monthly subscription for around 5 euros with unlimited access. It is claiming to be the first African VOD content library but this claim may actually be a close race between it and M-Net’s African film library which launched recently.

According to Thema’s CEO Francois Thiellet the VOD service will “very much focus on popular African films, series and programmes.” Thema has bought global VOD rights for these programmes so there is no reason why in the future the service might extend beyond French soil. The rights have been set quite low to start with but will go up as subscriber numbers increase.

There is no way of knowing how many subscribers will sign up for the service as there are no precedents for this type of content offer. Nevertheless in France, VOD content more generally is 80% feature films and of that, 80% are adult films.

Meanwhile Gabonese TV channel 3A Telesud, which gives access to magazines and local information has been adopted by Bouygues-Telecom's BBox on "canal 215".

3A Telesud is a 24-hour-a-day French-language channel broadcasting a variety of content for the audience of African and Caribbean descent and the African Diaspora.

It offers a variety of African and Caribbean programming including news, talk-shows, magazines, documentaries, music videos, live concerts and much more. Also on 3A TELESUD viewers can see major African festivals and events such as the Pan-African Music Festival (Fespam), the Pan-African Film Festival (Fespaco) and the African International Festival of Comedy and Music (Afrikakeur Festival).

3A Telesud is also available from by other satellite, TV and triple play providers as follows:

• SFR/Neuf TV: canal 443

• Orange TV: canal 380

• Freebox TV: canal 167 *

• Numéricable: canal 97

• Noos: canal 79

• Club Internet: canal 167

In Europe, Telesud can be viewed via:

• Satellite Hot Bird 6: 126 (free)

• Hotbird 6 (free)

*available on the "Free" bouquet for an extra 0,49 €/month.

In Africa, Telesud is also available on Canal Satellite Horizon: canal 12.