Discop Africa 2 – Smaller than Dakar but content deals are growing in number


Africa’s first media market in Dakar in February (Discop 1) was always going to be a hard act to follow. There were over 600 people in one hotel for the first time and the sheer sense of amazement and excitement was palpable. So it was a brave decision to hold Discop 2 in Nairobi only six months later.

Discop 2 was about two-thirds of the size of the first market and the buzz may have been lower but everyone we spoke to agreed that they were doing good content deals and that it was an extremely useful event. No report can cover everything that happened but here are some of the things that Balancing Act saw and heard.

* Vivien Marles, Synovate provided compelling research showing how local content captured audiences more effectively than international content. Top programmes in Kenya included: Taludi High; Papa Shivandula; Inspekta Mwala; and Makutano Junction. Generally there was a feeling that African audience expectations are increasing and that this will also be true of what they want in terms of local content. Local doesn’t just mean “one nation” content but explaining the differences between different ethnic and tribal groups.

* There was considerable cut and thrust after a FIFA 2010 progress presentation by Hide Arai. In some countries FIFA has given FTA rights to a single public broadcaster and in others like Nigeria and Ghana, consortia of broadcasters came together to share the rights. The sheer volume of games make it a difficult task for one broadcaster.

* There was an interesting session that looked at how research with Joe Otin, Synovate and Michel Gregoire of the European Group of Television Advertising. Both stressed how essential research was for persuading advertisers and creating rates genuinely based on viewer or listenership. Currently only just over 20 countries in Africa have regular media research. Gregoire talked about how his organisation enabled broadcasters to sell advertising to those looking to create continent-wide campaigns, surely something that relevance for Africa.

* Paris-based 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 content offer. Today the diaspora in France, tomorrow the world?

* New television stations seem to continue to make their appearance even in more competitive territories. Among others, - Zambia’s Copperbelt region will soon have a new Free-To-Air satellite channel called Ngoma TV. After initial launch, it will spread its coverage to the capital Lusaka. Similarly, Tanzania will also have a new Free-To-Air channel called Milestone TV.Tanzania’s IPP Media is extending the satellite coverage of its East African Free-To-Air channel to Rwanda and Burundi shortly. Nigerian Pay-TV operator Multimesh is moving to offer coverage across West Africa and has a target of 150,000 subscribers by this time next year (for full story see Investment section below). And these are just some of the more well-advanced plans….

* DStv is launching a web site to support the sale of its film library. Victor Ngei, General Manager of Nation TV revealed that the company had made US$20,000 selling its programmes for distribution on MNet East.

* The big spending advertisers are the new programme producers. Often those buying rights will first see whether one of them will sponsor a programme before making a decision. Hence most of the buyers operate without a formal budget, relying on what they can raise over the year. Big spenders remain large multinational companies: food and beverages such as CocaCola, Maggi, Nestle; Banks; Car manufacturers; white and electrical/electronic goods; cleaning and building products and of course telcos. Mobile companies always take the top slots in analysis of spending so mobile competition is good for media.