DISCOP Africa, wrap up of the Continent's Largest International TV Content Market

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The African TV marketplace is now worth at least half a billion dollars in annual TV content wholesale sales - double the figure from 2010 - said Patrick Jucaud-Zuchowicki, General Manager of Basic Lead, the company that organises DISCOP Africa. This event is home to where 95% of these sales are initiated and/or are concluded, and continental Africa’s only international Film, TV content, adaptation rights and packaged channel market.

In its 9th edition at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, DISCOP Africa is an annual, 3-day, tradeshow that brings together buyers, sellers and producers of televised entertainment content, seeking to do business across Africa. DISCOP Africa saw an increase of 36% in pre-registration figures from 2013.

This year, Discop conferences highlighted African audiences' tastes, new expectations such as VoD and usage patterns of an extremely young demographic, innovative TV programme production and distribution models and rapidly rising consumer adoption of pay TV satellite television.

The special spotlight on Ivory Coast, DISCOP Africa’s 2014 Guest Country, in a drive to highlight the fast-growing importance of Africa’s French-speaking TV content production and distribution industries drove a large delegation from the country including the Minister of Communication, the ambassador of Côte d'Ivoire, public channel RTI and members of the team behind popular TV series "Ma Famille" which will be translated into Chinese. The delegation from Ivory Coast entered into serious discussions with their South African counterparts and the concrete results of this will be announced soon – revealing a large partnership between French and English speaking countries in terms of film cooperation.

“20 YEARS OF TELEVISION IN AFRICA: WHAT’S NEXT” a two-day summit examined the challenges to develop a sustainable and homegrown digital television ecosystem that can also serve as a role model for the rest of the continent.


Distributors, broadcasters and producers reported a host of significant announcements including the following:

Startimes is about to launch new channels to its African bouquets in Africa; this includes 2 new sports channels: Sports 2 and 3. Startimes will also build a large production studio in Nairobi, said Mike Dearham, VP content at StarTimes to Balancing Act over Discop Africa, adding that USD 15 million will be invested on Startime operations and African productions next year.

Re. DTT roll out, African governments have 2 options: either deliver very basic DTT services with just a few TV national channels, or state of the art DTT with DTH, internet and VoD capabilities.

The second option is what Regis Saint Girons, CEO of company "HTTV" can bring to DTT in Africa: as a whole new interactive world with innovative and affordable DTT boxes and applications well-suited to the modern digital age and longer term. HTTV had a stand at DISCOP and was demonstrating the power of its Hybrid TVOS solution which has been selected by Excaf Telecom Group for the DTT in Senegal. In Africa, HTTV also signed with Sentech in South Africa, Parabole Réunion, Mauritius and Madagascar. 

One of the largest deals to come out of DISCOP Africa 2015 was announced on the final afternoon of Friday November 7th which still saw hundreds of delegates networking and meeting. Eutelsat Communications declared that it has sealed a ten-year contract with Crystal TV, Ghana's leading commercial broadcaster, for capacity connected to the African service area of the EUTELSAT 16A satellite. The capacity enables Crystal TV to benefit from countrywide coverage of Ghana for its digital platform of pay-TV and free-to-air channels.

Lagardere has taken a share into Diffa's African film distribution company ("plateforme de Distribution Internationale des Films et Fictions d'Afrique" in French) and is expanding across Africa. The large media group will also launch 'Gulli' - a 1st class children TV channel well-kown in France -  in French and in English across Africa, confirmed Takis Candilis - the CEO of Lagardere entertainment - to Balancing Act over Discop Africa. The group will also invest in local African productions and production/distribution training to strengthen local expertise.

Picture above: François DEPLANCK, Channels and Content Director for CANAL+ OVERSEAS and Damiano Malchiodi (glasses), A+ TV channel director. Credit: Balancing Act.

Canal+ confirmed its commitment to invest heavily in African TV production, building on its new A+ channel and set up its main African office in Côte d'Ivoire. It will act as a local investors for African TV channels and production houses.

Zambia’s Muvi TV platform has doubled digital channel line-up on EUTELSAT 7B satellite.

Côte Ouest is about to launch a new TV channel focused on telenovellas.

EbonyLife TV has launched on DStv in South & Southern Africa. "Every month we have something new that airs" said EbonyLife_TV representative about the growth of the channel.

Malaria No More shared its success in Africa and gave away a TV programme to local FTA channels. Watch the Bill Gates's video here

Picture credit: Basic Lead.


During the conference tracks, we noted the following:

DTT still requires a lot of work to reach deadlines and national access, reminded Russell Southwood, CEO, Balancing Act, adding that "only 3 countries in Africa have completed the transition so far".

Over the VoD panel session 'Mobile Loves TV', Sylvain Béletre, market analyst at Balancing Act highlighted that there are now over 100 VoD platforms dedicated to Africa. "It's not enough to put content online and hope that people will see it!" warned Marie Lora Mungai from Buni TV.

Panelists recommended African TV channels to register on YouTube to post their production archives and gain global audience as well as generate revenues. "If you say that you do not want to be on YouTube, it is too late: chances are that you are already there!" said a YouTube representative. Content ID will generate money for any quality content provider so register on YouTube.

"Contents is nothing; Marketing is everything" said the CEO of Côte Ouest over a dedicated session.

The “20 Years”/Panel Discussion: Mobile Loves TV' hosted by Sylvain Béletre, co-author of the 2014 'African TV Sports Market' report reminded broadcasters and producers that there still plenty of opportunities to show the national sports' stars on TV and grow the sports TV business bric by bric across the African continent. "It all starts by finding a large sponsor" said Gary Rathbone, co-author of the same report and founder of a sports news company.

"Copyright serves to confirm ownership, avoid legal problems and financial loss." said Carole Croella at Discop conference session.

Close to 1,800 delegates, 250+ exhibitors representing global and regional entertainment content providers from Africa and overseas; 750+ key acquisitions, commissioning and programming executives representing Africa's most important public and commercial broadcasters, pay-TV operators, OTT platforms, mobile networks and production companies have all proven that the business of content in Africa is booming. There was clearly a turning point: Discop Africa opens up to high tech TV companies for the first time.

The organisers of DISCOP Africa, BASIC LEAD have already announced the dates for DISCOP Africa 2015: November 4- 6th, once again at the Sandton Convention Centre in Jo'burg.

Basic Lead has also announced a brand new and exciting exhibition, MEET YOUR STARS which will have its inaugural debut at the Sandton Convention Centre, Nov 13th – 15th 2015. Meet Your Stars will be an exclusive glimpse of South Africa’s upcoming top local and international TV shows, and the talent behind them. 5,000+ TV fans, media and social media influencers will have the pleasure of literally meeting all their favourite stars in one place.

DISCOP Africa and Meet Your Stars are complimentary events that reflect Basic Lead’s commitment to TV and content in Africa. We will soon find out which Guest Country from Africa will be honored next year. 

More info: www.discopafrica.com www.basiclead.com www.facebook/DiscopAfrica


Author: Balancing Act - 7 Nov. 2014 - Sylvain Béletre.

First picture at the top - credit: Basic Lead.




The official winners of the 2014 DISCOPRO pitching competition

Launched in 2012, DISCOPRO is a Pan-African pitching, mentoring and networking program, designed to deliver vital resources in development, coproduction and distribution, critical stages for content production for aspiring professional content producers.

This year, out of a total number of 77 entries, DISCOPRO shortlisted 18 producers who took part in this year’s pitching competition.  The Formats, Documentary and Animation categories each had five shortlisted participants and due to the popularity of the TV Series, this category had 7 names.

Shortlisted participants were from seven (7) African countries including South Africa, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. South Africa had a nine (9) strong contingent of producers shortlisted. South African entrants won 3 out of the 4 categories, and secure the Runners-Up slot in the 4th. 


The runners-up have received US$1,000 in development funds and a complimentary Meeting Table at DISCOP Africa 2015. The winners’ prize stands at US$2,000 in development funds and a complimentary Meeting Table at DISCOP Africa 2015. We are pleased to announce that COTE OUEST has, this year, committed to an additional US$ 5000 in prize money.

The winners and runner-ups in each category are listed below: 

TV Series Category

Winner: Angela Aquereburu, Caring International in Togo, project name is “Marabout”

Runner Up: Makganwana Mokgalong, Untouchable Media in South Africa, project name is “The Madams”


Formats Category

Winner: Grant Flynn, Okuhle Media in South Africa, project name is “#Hashtag Friendorsement”

Runner Up: Emily Wanja, Emily Wanja in Kenya, project name is “My City, My Swag”


*** The WINNER Grant Flynn of this category also received a year’s membership to FRAPA which is the “Format Recognition and Protection Association”. This is in addition to the prize money of US$2,000 in development funds and a complimentary Meeting Table at DISCOP Africa 2015.


Animation Category

Winner: Nick Wilson, from My Child TV in South Africa, project name is “My Child”

Runner Up: Nisha Ligon, from Ubongo Ltd in Tanzania, with “Aliki speaks English”


Documentary Category

Winner: Samora Sekhukhune, from Away from the Keyboard in South Africa, project name is “Wizard of Zim”

Runner up: Arice Siapi, from Timeline in Cameroon, project name is “Retour au Lac Tueur”




Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act's web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it covers online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 27 issues and these can be viewed on this link.  Essential reading for those in broadcast or film. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to info@balancingact-africa.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line.

Here are some examples of past issues below:

Africa’s coming digital content generation – Market research from 3.5 countries looks at music, TV and film use

You Tube provides a platform for piloting new TV series: An African City and Al Bernameg light the way

Licensing delays stall Kenya’s “i-Tunes” content platform on a Raspberry Pi but end may be in sight

The Mobile Deal that is keeping Africans from having more music, film and TV on their mobiles

Online film, music and TV content in Africa – In search of the elusive business model

Video Clip Interviews - This week:

Yemisi Ilo on Nigeria’s Web TV channel Battabox

Abukar Abba Tahir on Gotel's plans to launch the Al Jazeera of Africa from Abuja

Michael Wanguhu on a TV series that follows Kenya's marathon runners in the USA

Khalid Shamis' film The Colonel's Stray Dogs about the Libyan opposition in exile who went back

Kene Mkparu, Filmhouse on having 25 cinemas in Nigeria by 2019

Director Abey Esho on the trials and tribulations of shooting the web/tv series Festac Town

Ulrich Stark on how broadcasters can make money on social media platform Wezwa

Man on Ground Akin Omotoso on his latest film a rom-com called Tell Me Sweet Something

Director of Dr Bello, Tony Abulu on his next film Superstar slated for release in March 2015

Evert van der Veer, Head of Comedy Central, Africa on the South African comedy scene and programmes they make

Three competition winners talk about the film they'll make for Afrinolly's Cinema4Change

Mandy Roger on exclusive African content coming on Pana TV inc a Basketmouth series

Jason Njoku, iROKO on launching its production arm ROK Studios to test film and TV series