THEMA TV acquires rights for AfricaMagic, great Nollywood content


M-Net, the South African terrestrial pay-television channel, has sub-licensed the rights of its AfricaMagic content to international distributor THEMA TV. In a groundbreaking initiative, this deal will see a selection of AfricaMagic’s Nollywood content dubbed into the French language for the first time for television broadcast in Francophone Africa. 

AfricaMagic is one of M-Net’s most popular entertainment channels, dedicated to broadcasting African content including drama series, documentaries and soaps. The channel also airs a vast selection of Nollywood films – formally known as the Nigerian video feature film industry – and is Africa’s largest movie industry in terms of the number of movies produced per year.

Mike Dearham, Head of Sales & Library, M-Net says: “This deal marks an important milestone in M-Net’s growth in the global television market and supports our dedication to the development of Africa’s content industry. Nollywood is an African institution, which has showcased the continent’s rich pool of talent and creativity since its creation in the 1960s. We look forward to working with THEMA TV to present this content to new audiences, encouraging the expansion of the African production industry across the continent.”

François Thiellet, CEO, THEMA TV adds: “We are very happy to announce our strong partnership with M-Net, reinforcing our strategy for the growth of the African media industry. With this new agreement added to the already existing creation of a SVOD offer entitled Films d’Afrique, THEMA TV is recognised as the provider of TV content for French-speaking Africans.”

With a large portfolio, THEMA is the right partner to provide linear TV channels as well as content for VOD (SVOD) services.

Major International Media Groups such as Digiturk, MBC Group, ART, ROTANA, ZEE Networks trust THEMA to handle the distibution of their channels, that is why THEMA has become the first provider of Ethnic TV channels in Europe, particularly in France, with the successful launch of "The African Bouquet", "The German Bouquet" and the "Indian Ocean Bouquet".

Thema conveyed to Balancing Act that via this deal, Thema TV has acquired a selection of AfricaMagic programmes - 750 hours so far - with  rights for francophone Africa and Europe - namely France, Belgium and Switzerland. The programmes’ translation will be a large investment for which the company needs to make a return.

Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre interviewed M-Net, Thema TV and analysed the deal’s impact.

“M-Net’s AfricaMagic TV Channel is the African general entertainment channel showcases home-grown entertainment produced in Africa, by Africans, for Africans, mainly Nollywood content. AfricaMagic is recognised as one of the leading channels on the DStv bouquet and has been well-supported by the African audience and the advertising industry.”

Mnet commented: “Africa Magic is one of DStv’s most popular entertainment channels. Dedicated to television broadcast of compelling African content, the channel showcases Nigerian films as well as filmed content from the rest of the continent. Africa Magic was launched on Dec 1st 2003 and began transmitting a mere 7 hours of content each day. Currently, the channel has a 24 hour uninterrupted broadcast of full length feature films, monthly soaps, drama series, magazine programmes, talk shows and documentaries. In 2008, the station launched Africa Magic Plus which differentiated itself because of its adoption of a broader Pan-African approach to programming. Channel growth further prompted a flowering of additional channels that catered for culturally (and language) specific African communities inclusive of Yoruba, Hausa and Swahili speaking groups.

Juniper Musa, Channel Manager for Africa Magic & Magic World Africa said “The Channel through the years has continued to grow bigger and stronger, it has for several years been on the top performing channels across Africa. Fulfilling its promise to entertain its’ viewers by always dishing out fantastic and great TV series, Family Dramas and Reality shows. We can confidently say that the channel has become a part  and a true reflection of the African people and culture.”

Beletre adds that “Thema TV now needs to decide what it will do with the programmes, whether these will be used to build a linear channel which could possibly be integrated in its ‘Bouquet Africain’, sold to francophone TV stations in Africa or Europe, made available on its SVOD service or on some third party VoD platform.

This partnership could have a positive perspective on Mnet’s international visibility and on Thema’s packaging value because it provides a more compelling set of African content to meet the African diaspora’s demand in francophone market.

So far, Thema has successfully launched its bouquet in France and since May 2011 via Numéricable Brussels in Belgium.

However, the market impact of this deal will be moderate as only a few will be able to afford the bouquet, unless Thema TV manages to broadcast some of the programmes via free-to-air media.”