Global OTT players offer African content producers new distribution opportunities in Europe and the USA

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A recently announced deal between Lebara Play and various African producers for OTT rights in Europe illustrates how VoD will allow content owners new channels to diaspora markets. But this is not the first of these kinds of deals as Russell Southwood outlines.

Lebara Play is the VoD channel run by discount international minutes provider Lebara. Since the people who buy discount minutes to ring home are diaspora communities, it has an existing connection to them.

Lebara Play boasts of over 150 channels, in 13 languages and 3,000 movies from around the world to provide quality entertainment to the large migrant community.

Lebara Play’s premium multi-ethnic TV and movie content is available via PC, mobile app, tablet or set top box. The new service is currently available in the UK, France, Germany and The Netherlands, and will be in the rest of Europe over the summer, and other territories worldwide by the year-end.

African Movie Channel (AMC) and other African content providers have signed with Lebara Play. The deal with AMC is for distribution outside Africa will give Lebara’s European subscribers unlimited access to 1000s of hours prime African cinema content 24 hours a day.

The founding partners and co-directors of African Movie Channel, ‘Yinka Mayungbo and ‘Lola Onigbogi made this joint statement: “AMC brings the best in domestic African productions to its viewers across Africa. Broadcasting on Lebara Play in Europe is a fantastic opportunity to showcase top African talent to the African diaspora, and a bigger audience. We are extremely delighted to be back in the European space where we started, serving the burgeoning need for top-notch African content”.

African Movie Channel was the first ever channel in Europe dedicated to Nollywood and other African movies when it launched as a VOD channel on what was then Homechoice (now Talk Talk) TV platform in the UK, nine years ago in 2006.

AMC is available on the West African English bundle on Lebara Play with unlimited access to African TV and movie content.

Another route to diaspora communities has been pioneered by Reel African (now owned by Kagiso Media). It has several channels on the US platform Hulu,  generating revenue. Its Manager Thabo Dabengwa said:”Our model remains revenue share. We don’t do minimum guarantees and the share is 50/50 overall but content goes on all platforms we’ve got access to. We’ve got a tremendous advantage with the Hulu link”

“We’re putting marketing budget behind the content we’ve got. We’ll market efficiently and make sure the content gets seen. Some stuff will work well in the USA but not in Africa and Europe and other content in different markets. We want to work out what does well in which markets and make sure the content makes enough revenue.”

So what type of content is Reel African looking for?:”We’ve lots of drama series like Adam’s Apples and they work really well. We’ve also got music videos and documentaries.”

Other players with diaspora audiences are looking closely as this kind of play. iROKO’s financial success has been built on its connection with diaspora communities across the world. Deals of this kind are likely to make it harder for them in the future.

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