Turner looks to increase local content for Africa and enlarge engagement rolling out its digital strategy

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The international Pay TV content channels are slowly expanding what they are doing in Africa. The two most visible prongs of this engagement are an increasing level of both local and localized production and an expanded digital offer to ensure they get profile in Africa’s social media space. Russell Southwood talked to Pierre Branco, VP and General Manager, France, Portugal and Africa about what Turner has planned in these key areas.

Leading international Pay TV player Turner has five channels that have established themselves successfully in Sub-Saharan Africa: Boing, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN and TCM.

“Our channels are on DStv, Star Times, Canal Plus and other smaller regional platforms. We’re in advanced discussions with Wanachi for new business with them. Some brands are exclusive to DStv but we have a big portfolio for working with everyone.” He’s also been in discussion with some African Free-To-Air cannels about supplying kids shows.

“In general entertainment, we’re increasing the investment in new series. We’re producing all kinds of drama and content series and globally we’re putting US$1 billion into original content and investing US$4 billion in other content. Local content is critical to us. We’re tailoring our content so that it fits the tastes of the audience.”

It has produced its first African kids show, Pop Up Party which focuses on dance and music. Aimed at 8-14 year olds, the show (as the title say) pops up in unexpected places and in future “will have guests from known bands and series.” Although currently produced by Urban Brew for South Africa, it has plans to extend it to the rest of the continent.

“We’re developing other projects that have not yet been finalized and there’s a lot of global interest in (the formats) we’re planning. There also projects for Boomerang with a second channel in Africa but these are not fully confirmed yet”.

“Africa is more important in our strategy and its input is way more valuable than in the past. Looking at the dynamics of international markets, Africa is a big area for growth. We need to mix what we sell with local content. We’re channel editors putting on the right channel at the right time.”

The second part of Turner’s increasing engagement with the continent is its extending its digital strategy into Sub-Saharan Africa:”For Africa, we’ll have 20 new apps by the end of the year.” One of these is Cartoon Network Anything which provides a constant flow of unexpected short form kids content including animations, quizzes and new content specific for mobile, including mobisodes.

These apps have been launched across all operating systems and those already in the market have attracted “tens of thousands of downloads.”

“Another part of our digital strategy is what we do on You Tube. This has been developed recently and the initial results are impressive. For officially uploaded Cartoon Network content (globally) we got 5.4 million views in May 2016 and a similar number of uniques for our website. We also have 1.1-1.2 million likes on Facebook.”

So how will it monetize its content on You Tube?:”The strategy is not about getting money but giving us broad presence. Monetisation will be small to start with but will grow substantially in later years.”


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