All posts by tmdev

DSO to fuel Nigerian prodco growth

Nigeria’s digital switchover (DSO) will power growth across the country’s TV industry and fuel a surge in production, according to the CEO of the company overseeing the roll-out.

The country began its switch to digital in April 2016 in the state of Jos before expanding into Nigeria’s administrative capital Abudja later that year.

Rajiv Mekkat, CEO of Cable Channels Nigeria (CCN) (left), told C21 the roll-out to-date had involved 600,000 government-backed set-top boxes being activated, with more than 450,000 subscribers now active.

Mekkat said the boxes were being well received by viewers and were beginning to generate numerous production jobs as the new channel operators sought additional programming.

“We’ll need more content, of course, and that means more production companies having to generate more of that content, and that goes back to more jobs and all the associated opportunities.”

Nollywood and Bollywood programming would remain major fixtures on the new platform, Mekkat said, but he added that other genres would be likely as the DSO project expanded.

“It’s more movies and telenovelas, they’re the main things going on now but I’m sure we’ll move into panel shows and reality series – at the moment there are only one or two. We’re not there yet but we’re catching up.”

The CCN boss admitted the roll-out to-date had been “a little slow” but said that once completed the DSO would mean “plenty more Nigerian content and allow OTT’s and other new media opportunities for international customers.”

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission licensed CCN to work across the switchover, with a remit to develop platform offerings and work on content for free-to-air and DTH services. 

Mekkat said that the manufacture of the boxes would also create employment, with the intention of producing all the country’s set-top boxes in Nigeria rather than importing. “That will boost up employment and should give many Nigerians a job,” Mekkat added.

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Yanga TV preps for UK launch

A channel specialising in content aimed at Africans and the African diaspora is set to launch in the UK next year and has been in Cannes this week on the hunt for content.

Yanga TV is due to launch on pay TV platform Sky in January next year and is being overseen by Lindsey Oliver, the former director of networks at CNBC Europe and founding director of Al Jazeera International.

The channel will air a range of different programming covering drama, lifestyle, news, entertainment, stand-up comedy and children’s, with executives at Mipcom this week on the lookout for shows.

Mansour Bellow

Mansour Bellow (pictured), an on-screen presenter for the channel, told C21 here in Cannes that the aim is to bring something “fresh” to the UK TV landscape with plenty of variety.

“Sometimes a TV channel will repeat the same thing six times in one day. But we really want to deliver quality that Africans can be proud of,” said Bellow.

The host, who has been filming content for the channel while in Cannes this week, added that the channel execs are considering airing children’s programming in the Nigerian dialect of Yoruba.

Yanga, which is Nigerian slang for being confident, will aim to give UK viewers with Nigerian heritage a “closer understanding of their culture,” Bellow added.

Oliver, who most recently served as international commercial director at Bloomberg Television, is currently MD of Chiswick Park Studios, a UK-based company that creates programmes, news and entertainment for Africans and the African diaspora.

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EbonyLife launches SVoD

Nigerian lifestyle and entertainment broadcaster EbonyLife TV was in Cannes this week talking up diversity in television and promoting its new video-on-demand service.

EbonyLife is co-sponsor of the inaugural Diversity TV International Excellence Awards, alongside Viacom and A+E Networks, and the channel’s chair and CEO Mosunmola ‘Mo’ Abudu said race and gender diversity is an issue that is key to the four-year-old broadcaster.

 “EbonyLife has always sought to create content that tells a different story about Africa, forcing international audiences to rethink stereotypes and making Africans in the diaspora proud,” said Abudu.

“From the mature women in our debut feature film, Fifty, to the ground-breaking Angela Ochello in TV series The Governor, we have changed the onscreen image of the African woman forever.”

Speaking to C21 at the Nigerian TV party on the beach in Cannes this week, Abudu said it was the responsibility of the Nigerian TV industry to play its part in pushing diversity in content, to which the global industry “keeps playing lip service.”

“Content must be diverse. If you don’t know my story, how are you going to understand me,” she said. “There are so many stories to tell and I don’t think the world is being fair in telling those stories.”

Among the winners at the red-carpet awards ceremony on Tuesday night was BBC1 drama Damilola, Our Beloved Boy (1×90’). The show, produced by UK indie Minnow Films, won best race and diversity scripted series. It dramatises the true-life murder of a 10-year-old Nigerian boy, Damilola Taylor, in a London tower block stairwell in 2000. Banijay Rights distributes the show.

EbonyLife’s sponsorship also extends to the two-day diversity track at Mipcom this year, where there were several sessions and panels relating to issues of diversity on the conference schedule. This included UK actor and campaigner Lenny Henry calling for tax breaks to be introduced to encourage diversity in the TV industry.

Also on EbonyLife’s agenda this Mipcom is the launch of its new subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service. EbonyLife ON is aimed at anyone outside Africa who wants to access programmes that showcase positive and dynamic stories from the continent.

The platform, she added, has a broad range of content encompassing drama, reality and factual. Some of the programmes on the platform include glossy dramas like The Governor, which chronicles the struggles of the first female governor in Nigeria; Fifty, a series adaptation of the 2015 hit movie that follows four women in their fifties in Lagos; and Sons of the Caliphate, a drama about feuding between powerful, political families in northern Nigeria.

Also, viewers get to see African celebrities on the red carpet with VVIP Events; the latest celebrity buzz with EL Now; inspirational stories of Africans achieving success in all walks of life, with Hello Africa; and Moments Z, the talk show for the millennial generation.

The EbonyLife ON service is available via ebonylifeon.com or via a mobile app. For a monthly fee of US$4.99, viewers can access TV series, Nollywood movies and documentaries. Anyone who subscribes before January 31st, 2018 will get an early bird discount of US$2.99, monthly.

CEO Abudu said the move was about reaching a larger category of viewers. “Our increasing audience in the diaspora can now enjoy our content, on the go. With this service, we are able to provide them with quality programmes, made in Africa, for the world,” she said.

Abudu said the EbonyLife content, which is “going to fascinate the world,” could attract global studios to Nigeria for collaborations, and said major global TV studios need to “take the risk” on creating African-focused content.

“I’ve had some really good conversations with some of the big studios on coproductions, because some of the ideas we’ve shared [have impressed them],” she said. “Some of the studios need to take the risk and tell an African story. It doesn’t have to be a slave story. It’s not going to happen overnight, but let’s build it.”

This extends to the financials of the potential projects, and Abudu noted that any collaboration has to “make financial sense to everyone involved.”

“It is show business, it’s not a charity business,” she concluded. “It’s not just that I feel a moral and social responsibility that our stories must travel and change the narrative, I also know it is a business.

“I’m not going to sit next to any studio and not say this is the business case. Upfront, I will say this is going to be how we can make money.”

“If you really want to have a piece of Africa, if you really want to know what’s going on across the continent, subscribe to EbonyLife ON and you will see what’s going on in the life of people.”

The SVoD service adds to Ebony Life’s distribution in 49 African countries, including South Africa and Southern African countries, via a license agreement with pay TV platform Multichoice (DStv) Africa.

Continental Satellite Limited

Continental Satellite Limited formerly known as Consat is a privately-owned media and
entertainment company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and operating under the brand name PLAY.

PLAY a Nigerian-grown and owned business was established with the aim of making information and quality home entertainment services accessible to the rapidly growing and choice conscious Nigerians across all class segments.
PLAY is the un-cultural “trend setter” promoting urbane culture, highlighting the best of movies, kiddies programming, music, sports and fashion.

PLAY is gradually growing into a global urban entertainment brand that is the catalyst, the voice and the one stop destination for urban entertainment creators and fans. Each PLAY platform (TV, Studios, VOD, Events) has a clear mission:
to entertain, empower and engage with a passionate multicultural cross over audience.

PLAY will eventually become the leading urbane young at heart brand in Africa, PLAY TV
Targeting the 0-70 age group, PLAY TV offers the best music hits, exclusive movies, entertainment, cartoon, comedy, lifestyle, fashion and an exclusive behind-the- scene access to top African celebrities: from the latest video clips/concerts of the major urban artists to the most
intimate interviews with A-list champions.

PLAY TV strives to be an acclaimed leader in urban entertainment distribution and broadcasting, with a focus on movies, music, fashion, kiddies programming and many more.

Currently broadcasting over 40 channels at N1,000 a month, growing channel lineup includes news, entertainment, lifestyle, sports, movies, music, kids, religion and indigenous channels.

PLAY distributes a strong channel and programming selection across all genres with something for every member of the family. Full family entertainment is guaranteed.
PLAY's main objective is to deliver quality, affordable and dependable Pay-TV Satellite services and entertainment to Nigerian families and we are fully committed to supporting and promoting the growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry by delivering the best in Nigerian culture, music, entertainment and lifestyle to a worldwide audience.

PLAY STUDIOS
Play Studios is positioned to become one of the major operating studios in
Lagos, with over 5 different studios in the Play facility, Play Studios have an enviable experience of providing the finest production services from
development through post production.
Play Studios is an international leader in the production of film and TV entertainment. We are willing to engineer partnerships with projects large and small in a ceaseless effort to create celebrated movies, music videos, television shows, and commercials. All our studios are tailor made to suit the specific needs of our entire clientele.

EVENTS
There are almost countless types of events, some
are demanded frequently by customers, others seldom and in-depth information about the most 
important types of events.
At play we give life to every event, street storm, campus activations, tour etc from event management to syndication. We syndicate live coverage of events across multiple platforms which includes FTA, DTH, FTV, Mobile, Online Streaming ETC. We have the capacity, equipment to make your events grand and accessible
 to everyone.

Website: playtv.com.ng
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PLAY_Nigeria
Instagram: @play_nigeria
Facebook; PlayNigeria
Whatsapp: 08171897798
Phone: 012778690

Upwardly mobile

Many African VoD services face a major stumbling block in the lack of broadband infrastructure across much of the continent, but one firm is standing out by embracing a mobile-first approach.

Iroko specialises in Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) content and secured a US$19m investment from French pay TV operator Canal+ Group and Swedish venture capital firm Kinnevik last year. That came after earlier rounds from Kinnevik, US-based Facebook backer Tiger Global and RISE Capital totalling US$25m, and the money is now being spent in two key areas – content and channel distribution.

By 2018, Iroko wants to triple the 300 hours of originals it had in 2016 and is using the Canal+ connection to roll out an offering into French-speaking African countries.

Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ Overseas, has joined the company’s board, while the exit of co-founder Bastian Gotter earlier this year has left CEO Jason Njoku in sole charge at the top.

Iroko+ is the French-language offering the partnership has come up with, launched nine months ago into Senegal, Cameroon, both Congos and Ivory Coast. Africa’s mobile-focused market – known for its wildly varying network quality and speed as well as high data costs – means Iroko+ comes in the form of an Android app that allows users to download content rather than stream it.

“We were early adapters of SVoD in Africa but it’s a long-term play for us and it’s still going; there are a lot of challenges,” says Nikhil Patel, global general manager for Iroko partners.

“Africa is a mobile-centric continent. Data costs are very high and we’re trying whatever we can to help minimise those costs; you download movies rather than stream them on our SVoD service, for instance. We’re helping consumers save on data costs by compressing the file size. It’s still a good visual experience but the file sizes are smaller and much easier to download.

“I spent five years in the African telco business before Iroko and it’s a challenge; every territory is different. Rwanda, for instance, is 100% 4G coverage as of last year. Data costs are coming down but it’s still four or five years away from being affordable.”

To deal with this, Iroko is trialling the roll-out of striking pink pods around the Nigerian capital Lagos that provide customers with a free wi-fi connection to download content. If the pilot is successful, the pods could start popping up elsewhere across the continent.

But Iroko is not all about apps. The company also operates linear channels, Iroko Play and Iroko Plus, launched in May 2015 on continent-wide pay TV platform StarTimes. Plus shows premium Nollywood movies from 2011 onwards, such as Alvina and Could This Be Love, while Play focuses on classic Nollywood movies like Desperate to Survive and The Beast – all from Iroko’s library of more than 10,000 hours of content.

Distribution arm Iroko Global, meanwhile, is based in London and targets pay TV, VoD and inflight entertainment services primarily in the UK, US and France.

While Nollywood content is the priority across all arms of Iroko, with originals often coming from in-house producer Rok Studios or from prodcos and distributors based in Lagos, the firm does license a limited quantity of content from overseas.

On the clearly defined content position, Patel says: “Bollywood from India and telenovelas from Latin America do extremely well across Africa. This is because they take the consumer out of their real world and into a make-believe, fairytale world.

“We’re doing the same thing. Content that works well for us is dramas and movies with happy endings, or comedies. Thrillers and movies without the happy, fluffy ending don’t seem to do as well. It’s taking our user out of their real-life reality for a couple of hours.”

Iroko’s rights position varies from project to project and while Patel is coy on budgets, he admits that “our prices are nothing compared to Netflix. The Bollywood stuff is silly money, it’s just unreal. Everybody has their own strategy – iflix, Showmax and others are doing their own thing and they have their own business model. We have ours and we’re just doing what we’re doing.”

Cable Channels Nigeria

Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL) is a consortium of licensed Cable TV (MMDS) operators in the country with vast knowledge and experience spanning more than 20 years and some core investors. This consortium started private broadcasting in Nigeria and pioneered digital PayTV broadcasting as the country set out on this journey of analogue to digital transition since 2009.

CCNL is the Official Nigerian Licensed content aggregator for the DTT and DSAT Free-to-view platforms with the responsibilities to manage, market and promote to the final consumer as a part of the Nigerian National Digital Switchover (DSO) Strategy.

Broadly, our responsibilities include but not limited to:

  • Platform Management;
  • Content Management;
  • Distribution Management;
  • Signal Contribution;
  • Branding and Promotion and other services.

v FreeTV (DTT/DSAT)

FreeTV is a Free-To-View broadcasting platform offering home Entertainment services to its viewers through highly entertaining and informative channels.  FreeTV is the brand name of the Exclusive Nigerian Free-To-View Licensee on the DTT and DSAT broadcasting platforms.  CCNL is the operator of FreeTV.

With a minimum of 30 Channels of non-stop excitement; The FreeTV Free-to-view platform provides an array of intriguing and entertaining genres suited to viewers between the ages of 0 – 70. FreeTV is rich in content varying from Education, Factual & Lifestyle, Music, Movies & mindboggling series from around the world and Sports.

We bring a world of beautifully displayed cultures and stunning traditions in high resolution to your homes. With the press of a button, you experience the exhilarating benefits of digital television.

Also, characteristic of FreeTV is its News & Information Service platform. This affords users access to daily headline news reports and features from across Nigeria.

With the record for fastest growing digital penetration in the world, FreeTV offers high quality digital services that are affordable, thrilling, exciting, dependable and wholly Nigerian.

Econet, Vice form production hub

African media group Econet Media has set up a joint venture with Vice Media to bring localised content to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2018.

The new service, Kwesé VICE, will develop and produce locally tailored youth-focused lifestyle and culture programming for its channels and third-party platforms across digital and linear.

Econet Media, which owns and operates pan-African broadcast network Kwesé, targeting emerging millennials, launched Viceland on its multi-platform network earlier this year.

The latest deal will also see Viceland launching in South Africa as part of a roll-out in 45 Sub-Saharan African countries.

Kwesé VICE, which includes a local production studio, will be headquartered in Johannesburg with regional offices in Nairobi and Lagos.

A local recruitment drive is now underway for young creatives, journalists and filmmakers. The deal includes an African home for Vice’s creative agency Virtue Worldwide to develop branded content specifically for the local market.

Joseph Hundah (left), president and group CEO of Econet Media, called Vice “an important strategic partner for us in building an innovative, future-focused media business for Africa.”

The deal will increase Vice Media’s presence to more than 80 territories by the first quarter of 2018. Earlier this year, it struck deals with Brazil’s Globosat, Moby Group in the Middle East and Times of India.

Yes minister

Earlier this year the Creative Nigeria two-day summit on financing put together by Think Tank Media and Advertising Limited in conjunction with The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture was born. It was created out of a desire to urgently transform the Film, Television and Music sectors into a well structured industry.

Apart from the host Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also in attendance were the Ministers of Finance – Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and that of Trade and Industry – Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, various Director General’s and the Minister of Information from the Niger Republic.

The event brought speakers from Hollywood, India, the UK Television industry and top Nigerian Media and Entertainment executives including the CEO’S of Viacom Africa, Filmhouse – Mr. Kene Mkparu, Iroko – Mr. Jason Njoku, and several Legal and Finance practitioners to share their experiences. It was a full house both days with over 3000 participants in attendance, a live-online audience and being a top twitter trend.
No sooner after the event ended, the Honourable Minister got to work to execute the findings of the Summit, in which he shared with Content Nigeria in an interview conducted by Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu:

Q: Congratulations on the success of the first-ever Creative Nigeria summit, how much progress has been made thus far?
A: Thank you. A committee has been setup with a representative from the finance, music, film, television and consulting industries to put together all the ideas from the summit and advice on what actions the government needs to take.

Q: We understand that a major challenge pointed out is piracy. In what way is the ministry and the committee resolving the piracy problem and in turn, protecting the sector?
A: A delegation from the Nigerian industry was led to a piracy stakeholders meeting with the Inspector-General of Police – Ibrahim Idris to deliberate some issues concerning piracy and copyright infringement.Immediately leading to the set up of police anti-piracy units in all 36 states across the country, and subsequent extensive piracy raids which have now resulted to the confiscation of pirated products worth hundreds of millions of Naira.

Q: That’s fantastic, and great to know such actions are in effect so swiftly. Individual on the panel(s) pointed out that high taxes and a lack of incentives in the industry deters both local and foreign investors. As the minister, do you agree?
A: It is indeed a valid point, and as confirmed at the summit by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun when she promised to introduce tax incentives for the industry. In response to this, The Federal Government has granted pioneer status to creative industries, so that financial burdens on new investments can be reduced and in turn encourage both foreign and local investments within the industry.

Q: We’ve taken notice of companies granted the status, and we are sure like them, many will be glad to have such a relief come as support from the Government, but more on financing as there was an issue raised, on the lack of single digit financing for infrastructure investments which are required for the sector to grow and to aid monetization of the investments in SME projects. How do you intend to solve it?
A: I, alongside industry and financing practitioners have met with the Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) requesting for single digit finance for infrastructure development as well as priority status to accessing the foreign exchange and a guarantee to back up international loans. Our requests which are currently being worked on are as follows:

The provision of NGN36.50 BN / USD100.00MM stimulus capital for the Creative Industry to be invested through long tenured single digit debt to private investors to build 100 community cinemas, 6 music Arenas across the geopolitical zones and State of the Art Pre and Post production facilities across the country.

Granting of special priority status to international & national investors to access foreign exchange

Sovereign guarantee to back up international loans to achieve any of the stated infrastructure projects.

Q:That is amazing we look forward to that. Seems like the focus is mostly on the Film industry of entertainment, and with the ever-growing entertainment industry and the emergence of new TV channels and varying content, how do we intend to measure Television ratings?
A: I am backing the director general of the National Broadcasting Commission to immediately set up and launch an Audience rating and measurement body for Television and Radio, on the back of the successful roll out of the Digital Switch Over.

This will have an immense economic benefit to the Television landscape with the availability of accurate data to attract advertising spend. Real time and transparent information will aid decision makers in their processes and allow for more informed decision making for Investors in TV production.

Q: Last but not the least, and we thank you kindly for your time, what is your take on the idea that the government should use capacity building as an eligibility criteria to access intervention funds so that the industry can take responsibility for being its own developer of the best skills available?
A: I think it is formidable, thus just brought The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and The League Management Company Limited to establish a world class media services production company with resources for pre and post production of live events, Film, Music Videos and TV shows. I am confident that the company created will boost local content production; create more employment and produce better a skilled workforce.

There are better days ahead, as the industry is set to experience massive infrastructure development through federal government’s social and fiscal interventions, which will also raise Nigeria’s overall GDP. We at Content Nigeria will continue to appraise and keep the public, Media and Entertainment practitioners and the Finance industry informed of all the progress made.

StarPlus targets family audiences

StarTimes, one of Nigeria’s thriving PayTV service providers, has pledged to boost its family viewership base by adding new series to its recently launched StarPlus channel.

The StarPlus channel is part of 21st Century Fox’s Star India network, a Hindi language general entertainment television based in India.

The channel highlights a mix of family dramas, comedies, youth-oriented reality shows, crime shows and telefilm.

Qasim Elegbede

Brands and marketing director, StarTimes, Qasim Elegbede (pictured) says StarTimes aggregates various exciting and top-notch channels such as StarPlus on its platform to offer millions of digital TV subscribers a rich blend of entertainment, including movies, sports, news, drama, series, and music.

“Our desire is to ensure that every Nigerian family can afford access and enjoy digital television with entertaining channels creatively selected to appeal to every member of the family.” he said.

StarPlus channel 506 or 560 on StarTimes features series such as Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, which tells the story of Naitik and Akshara who went in search of Naira, who left home a few years ago. They find her in Dehradun and convince her to return home.