DISCOP hosts 2,200 registered attendees at its 2015 edition with major announcements – Round-up of news
By Sylvain Béletre and Russell Southwood - Balancing Act, Nov. 2015.
Africa’s TV buyers and sellers market DISCOP added an extra floor of exhibition space and by day 2 had registered 2,200 attendees. In this report written at the end of two of the three days, Russell Southwood seeks to round up the news and developments he saw and heard.
In the opening session of the DISCOP conference, Christine Service, SVP and Country Manager, The Walt Disney Corporation Africa outlined several things the company was doing that supported the local film and TV industry. She pointed to the location work on Avengers – Age of Ultron which employed 300 local crew members and was shot in Johannesburg’s CBD and Soweto.
The second major shoot was the Queen of Katwe about a young girl who went from living on the streets of Kampala to becoming a chess champion. Another major production was the TV series Of Kings and Prophets, the first season of which was shot on a large set in Stellenbosch and 600 people were employed.
She also highlighted the successful licensing of the Desperate Housewives series format to Mo Abudu’s Ebony Life TV and said she was keen to explore further opportunities of this kind. To see her talk about this deal click on the link here.
The company is also involved in the Triggerfish Studios’ Story Lab initiative where the company is running a script development competition and process, where the winners get a two week mentorship programme in Walt Disney in Hollywood with members of the Pixar team. She also gave examples of what she described as “smaller building blocks” which included locally commissioned content. They are also putting content on mobile phones in Africa, more of which at a later date.
Although not present at DISCOP, Nextflix has made two productions in Africa: Beasts of No Nation and Jadotville. One local film director saw these kinds of developments as immensely positive, whilst observing that production like this came in waves and went up and down.
According to a GSMA report done by Balancing Act, there were 292 terrestrial channels in Africa in 2011, and there are now 891 if you include DTT pay TV bouquets and 429 if you don’t (October 2015). Christoph Limmer, VP Global Sales and Video, Eutelsat observed in a panel on Africa in the Digital Era that over the same period satellite channels grew enormously and there were well over 2,000 of them now.
Simple economics would seem to suggest that with a relative shortage of local content and so many channels that the price paid for local content would go up. I noticed some mixed evidence at last year’s DISCOP that this was this case. I asked Bernard Azria, CEO, Cote Ouest Audiovisuel what his experience was and he said rather the reverse: they were only hitting their low expectation revenue targets and that the current changes in the industry were like a “tsunami”.
From the average local producer’s perspective, there were far more opportunities but that buyers and commissioners were not spending much money on producing content.
Jason Njoku, CEO, iROKO TV had a slide that read Africa – Where VoD Platforms Go To Die. He was not entirely joking as he candidly admitted, they have struggled to find the right business model. He said he was now focused on the Android phone platform and trying to deliver a service with a price of no more than US$2 per month.
The Digital Era in Africa panellists – two of whom (Gafar Williams, DoMedia and Andreas Lanz, iPidi TV) operated VoD platforms laid the blame squarely at the door of the mobile operators. Their networks were not yet sufficiently reliable to make watching TV series and films and data costs made watching long-form content prohibitive.
Data nerds both, Pierre Van den Hoven, Tuluntulu shared with me the number of downloads for a range of VoD platforms as indicator of current health. Only DStv’s ShowMax broke sweat by having numbers in the tens of thousands. All the rest were in the low thousands.
The flip side of this rather gloomy prognosis was an almost overwhelming supply side. One operator that supports VoD platforms said that he was getting five enquiries for VoD to every one for broadcast. Satellite operators like SES and Eutelsat are both putting VoD support platforms and products into the market.
A major investment is being made by Euronews in africanews, a news channel which according to its CEO Michael Peters will aim to be a unifying cultural force in much the same way as Euronews seeks to be in Europe. It will be headquartered in Congo-Brazzaville – not the most obvious news hub on the continent – but will have 40 staff with offices in Pointe Noire, Abidjan, Johannesburg, Nairobi and N’Djamena. It will broadcast 24/7 in both English and French and will have an African editorial viewpoint that will differentiate it from the many news channels on the continent.
In a round of other news, the following developments took place:
- In another unusual news hub, Gotel TV, which is headquartered in Yola in Northern Nigeria (but operates from Abuja) is now gearing up to go live. Watch an early announcement of the channel here.
- Strong rumours of a new pay TV player joining the scrum out of Southern Africa…Several people observing that the media perceptions of the collapse of Vidi were simply a misreading of what was actually being said by Times Media Group…Siyaya, a new DTH player, will soon be off the blocks…Kopala TV is a new entrant in the Zambian TV market…A new DTT player in Sierra Leone will launch both an FTA channel and a Pay TV bouquet.
- A pilot of Nick Wilson’s adult animation series Teenage Mutant Azanians will be shown on Comedy Central after South Park in December. He’s also got some pretty cool 3D printed character merchandise courtesy of Rick Treweek, African Robot. To hear the series creator talk about it click on the link here:
- In the Q and A with Marie Lora Mungai, she revealed that it was going to be making a film based on Michela Wrong’s book its Our Turn To Eat about Kenyan anti-corruption czar John Githongo called Betrayal of State. It is also doing a series about the drug trade in West Africa called The Trade. She revealed that they had one research work with the co-operation of the Nigerian equivalent of the DEA.
- Andrew Oseyemi, MTA Productions (Meet The Adebanjos and T Boy) told me that he had sold the exclusive rights outside Africa for the next season of Meet The Adebanjos to Lebara Mobile. The latter is a UK-based MVNO focused on immigrant communities and Lebara Play is being offered in 10 countries so far.
Here is the press release provided by Discop's organiser :
DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG 2015 ended today, Friday November 6th. 2015, after three days of intense meetings, conferences and business dealings between over 2,000 TV content producers, distributors and other industry players from across the globe.
The African TV industry is showing exponential year-on-year growth, and the over 50% increase in attendance at the 11the edition of DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG is reflective of the growing international interest in African produced content.
A number of major deals and announcements also took place at DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG 2015:
At the China Showcase event on Nov 4th, 6 major collaborative deals were signed between South African and Chinese production companies.
Turner Africa expands reach via a deal with ConSat in Nigeria to air children’s channel Boing.
Euronews announced the launch in January 2016 of Africanews, an independent and multilingual pan-African news network.
TV4 Entertainment in the US will be licensing VOD platform Buni.tv (from Kenya) for streaming on platforms in the US and UK such as Amazon.
RTI and Mnet signed a major deal that saw Mnet securing significant amount of content from Ivory Coasts’ public broadcaster
China was the country of honor at DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG and sent a delegation of more than 20 media companies, promoting TV series, documentaries, cartoons and entertaining programs. 6 of them signed agreement on collaboration with 6 African television companies, which means more Chinese television programs are going to be dubbed and located on the African continent in the near future.
At a gala dinner on the evening of November 5th, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa had this to say about DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG and the importance of hosting China as a guest country:
DISCOP Africa, through focusing on the content needs of African audiences, through giving space to emerging creators as well as seasoned professionals, helps to activate the television and film industry into embracing the knowledge that surrounds us and is also to be found within us.
This is a meeting of minds; and indeed there are many rivers to cross and many angles from which buyers, sellers and producers emerge in order to do business across the continent. Importantly, DISCOP Africa also brings countries together as we witness here today with China the Country of Honour.
This year DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG also hosted the inaugural MEET YOUR STARS TV upfront presentations from SABC 1, 2 and 3 as well as from etv and StarOne. During three days of presentations that featured 68 top South African TV stars, over 25 shows were presented to media buyers, planners and industry influencers.
Dichaba Phalatse SABC TV Network Marketing Manager Group had this to say about the first- ever MEET YOUR STARS event, “The first meet your stars surpassed expectations, in that it gave in depth knowledge and insights into our shows to our audiences that is the mouth piece of the television industry. There’s great room for improvements and we can’t wait for next year. Watch out for the SABC theatre 2016 #SABCTVRocks.”
At a press conference held at the close of DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG, Basic Lead CEO Patrick Zuchowicki also announced an exciting series of events scheduled for 2016. In addition to DISCOP AFRICA Johannesburg that will take place from Nov 2-4 2016, Abidjan will also host its 2nd DISCOP AFRICA ABIDJAN event after this year’s successful event in June. DISCOP AFRICA ABIDJAN will take place from May 31st – June 2nd 2016.
The official Guest Countries for DISCOP AFRICA 2016 were also announced, with Morocco as the guest country for DISCOP AFRICA ABIDJAN 2016, and the United States for DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG.
DISCOP AFRICA JOHANNESBURG 2015 STATISTICS
Countries Represented: 92
Producers Attending: 426
South African Producers: 309
Meet Your Stars celebs: 68
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