France-based pay TV operator Canal+ has renewed its sub-Saharan African broadcasting rights deal with Spanish top-flight football division La Liga.
The broadcaster – which also holds rights to the UEFA Champions League, France’s Ligue 1, the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A in the region – will continue to offer La Liga coverage to its customers in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius via the four-season renewal.
Melcior Soler, director of the La Liga audiovisual department, said: “We are pleased to bring French-speaking fans of La Liga another exciting way to discover the competition in sub-Saharan Africa, while extending our successful partnership with Canal+. These are important steps to continuing our global growth together with a historic partner that has broadcast our games in this territory for years.”
Jacques du Puy, sresident of Canal+ International, added: “We are very happy to welcome La Liga for four new seasons, one of the championships most appreciated by our African subscribers and which completes our incomparable offer in terms of international football.”
South Africa’s MultiChoice Group and France-based pay TV operator Canal+ are coproducing a 10-episode South African drama series.
Blood Psalms is based on a pre-colonial Xhosa legend and will debut next year on MultiChoice streaming service Showmax and Canal+’s African OTT platform MyCanal.
Shot in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West provinces of South Africa, Blood Psalms tells the story of a teenage African queen who battles a world-ending prophecy to guide her people through injustice and war.
Produced by Layla Swart and Jahmil XT Qubeka, co-owners of South African prodco Yellowbone Entertainment (Knuckle City), the series stars local actors including Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Andile Nebulane, Awethu Hleli, Ayanda Daweti, Ayanda Makayi and Bokang Phelane.
Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment and connected video, said: “This massive coproduction highlights Showmax’s commitment to a dynamic approach to superior-quality content. The partnership with Canal+ also creates an environment that is ripe for invaluable skills exchange between the South African and French production teams.”
Fabrice Faux, chief content officer at Canal+ International, added: “This African story, inspired by a Xhosa legend, will carry our viewers into mythological and epic adventures. With an outstanding directing and production team and a talented cast, Blood Psalms promises to be a big phenomenon that will resonate in all of Africa and internationally.”
Swart said: “Every one of the actors selected brings their own unique ability to authentically translate this magical epic on to screen. The goal, for us, is to ensure that the golden thread of Africa’s stunning history really shines. The story of Blood Psalms not only entertains, but also contributes to the preservation of African culture and languages as authentically told by Africans, to be enjoyed by the world.”
The production was made possible by several key partners, including South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, MultiChoice flagship channel M-Net, the Eastern Cape Economic Development Corporation and the MultiChoice Innovation Fund, which supports South African entrepreneurs.
International pay TV company Canal+ has partnered with solar energy firm Bboxx to provide Africans with greater access to TV news and entertainment.
Through the partnership, underserved African households in rural, peri-urban and urban communities that are living off-grid or without a reliable grid connection will have access to electricity and to TV content via a bundled offer.
According to Bboxx, the deal will provide access to more than 100 channels and radio stations, such as A+, France 24 and Trace Africa, added to a selection of local channels, at an affordable price.
This is the first time Canal+ has adapted its business to the pay-as-you-go model used by Bboxx’s energy technology. The intention is to make the service more affordable and accessible to underserved communities.
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of Bboxx, said: “During Covid-19, Bboxx has been experiencing strong demand for energy – an essential need. Alongside this, the pandemic has meant more people are staying at home than ever before. Having access to news and entertainment to stay informed on current affairs while keeping entertained has never been so important.”
David Mignot, CEO for Africa at Canal+, added: “We are delighted to partner with an established next-generation utility like Bboxx to extend our footprint to new customers and make television accessible to the greatest number of people by removing the barrier of access to electricity.”
Bboxx and Canal+ services will be accessible by several hundred thousand people in the next few years, and the roll-out in Africa will begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo.
French pay TV operator Canal+ is set to launch Ethiopia’s first premium direct-to-home platform at the beginning of 2021.
The service will offer more than 50 premium channels in a mixture of standard and high definition, and a selection of Ethiopia’s free-to-air channels. It is being launched in partnership with satellite operator Eutelsat.
Jacques du Puy, chairman of Canal+ International, said: “We are delighted to launch our DTH pay TV offer in Ethiopia, relying on the experience of our trusted partner, Eutelsat, in this market.
“Our new platform, the first such offer in the Ethiopian market, will contribute to the already rich and diverse video landscape in this dynamic market and support our commitment to providing high-quality, diverse programming in the African continent, where we are already present in 25 countries.”
Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, added: “We are honoured to accompany our long-standing partner Canal+ as it extends its services to the Ethiopian broadcast market, which Eutelsat already knows well.
“This agreement highlights the appetite for high-quality and varied programming in this dynamic country, as well as throughout the broader African continent, which is the fastest-growing satellite broadcast market. It also confirms the relevance of our investments in selected incremental resources to tap growth pockets in emergent video markets.”
US giant WarnerMedia and France-based pay TV operator Canal+ have teamed up to launch Cartoon Network and TNT in Rwanda, with a Nigerian toon on the former’s launch slate.
The two channels will be made available to local subscribers to Canal+’s existing Les Bouquets Canal+ pay TV package.
As a result, Les Bouquets Canal+ subscribers will have access to Cartoon Network titles such as ThunderCats Roar, Teen Titans Go!, DC Superhero Girls and the Nigerian animated short Garbage Boy & Trash Can.
Garbage Boy & Trash Can is from Nigerian animator Ridwan Moshood, and won Cartoon Network Africa’s Creative Lab competition in 2018.
The show tells the story of a garbage boy who believes he has superpowers he can use to fight for justice together with his trusty sidekick, a trash can.
TNT titles available include movies Apocalypto, Green Lantern, Batman Begins, Anaconda 3: Offspring and Million Dollar Baby.
Guillaume Coffin, VP and head of commercial and business development at Turner France, Africa and Israel, said: “WarnerMedia has been present in Africa for more than 20 years, operating six channels across the continent in 56 English-, French- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
“Launching TNT and Cartoon Network is an exciting expansion of our partnership with Canal+ Group in Africa. I am convinced that the tremendous success of these two channels in Africa, as well as their dedicated line-up of content and productions tailored for African viewers, will be welcomed by Canal+ subscribers in Rwanda.”
Broadcasters in Africa have acquired scripted and factual programming from US-based producer and distributor GRB Studios.
Pan-African broadcaster MNet has picked up shows including scripted comedy Love That Girl, originally produced for TV One, and a package of holiday films such as A Christmas Blessing, You Can’t Fight Christmas and The Christmas Swap.
Elsewhere, A+E Networks has taken several seasons of On the Case for its channels in Africa, while Canal+ has taken celebrity-focused Stalker Files for French-speaking Africa. The latter tells the chilling tales behind celebrity stalking cases involving Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg and others.
Other channels in Africa to have acquired programming from GRB Studios, in deals brokered by sales consultant Liz Levenson, include CBS Chello Zone, Blackstar TV and My Channel. Levenson will be speaking at DISCOP Johannesburg, which runs from November 20 to 22, and will be representing GRB at the event.
“GRB Studios has enjoyed a strong presence in Africa for many years and these deals represent some of our reach,” said Sarah Coursey, senior VP of international at GRB Studios. “The region is very important to GRB as we see major growth potential here.”
The number of pay TV subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow to 45.63 million by 2024, according to the newly published Sub-Saharan Africa Pay TV Forecasts report.
This suggests Sub-Saharan Africa will add 16 million subscribers in the next six years, marking an increase of 61%. Pay TV revenues were forecast to reach US$7.72bn by 2024, up by US$2.3bn on 2018.
Three big operators – MultiChoice, Vivendi/Canal+ and StarTimes – dominate the Sub-Saharan Africa pay TV market, with a combined 93% market share.
At the end of 2018, pay TV operator MultiChoice had over 14.34 million subscribers on its DStv and GOtv platforms and this figure is estimated to increase by five million by 2024.
France’s Vivendi had 4.01 million subs to its Canal+ satellite TV platform and Easy TV by the end of 2018, which will climb to 6.21 million by 2024, said the report. StarTimes had 7.75 million pay TV subscribers by the end of 2018 and it is estimated to reach 14.85 million by 2024.
According to Simon Murray, principal analyst at the report’s publisher, Digital TV Research: “Subscriber numbers will climb by 61% over this period, but pay TV revenues will rise by only 42% – indicating lower ARPUs. Pay TV revenues will reach US$7.72bn by 2024, up by US$2.3bn on 2018.”
African music channel operator Trace has signed a deal with Paris-based channel distributor Thema to merge their two gospel-themed TV channels into one.
Trace Gospel will combine with Thema’s Gospel Music TV under the brand Trace Gospel, bringing together two catalogues and both companies’ expertise, operated by Trace.
The merger will see Trace Gospel promoting African gospel musicians by airing more genres of gospel music. The channel will also feature weekly playlists and gospel music events.
Trace Gospel is available on Canal+ packages in Africa as well as TNT EasyTV on channel 38.
Trace is owned by venture capital firm TPG Growth, which bought the company from Modern Times Group (MTG) earlier this year, while Thema is part of Canal+ International.
Speaking about the move, Trace CEO Olivier Laouchez said: “This partnership with Thema and Canal+ International was decided in order to offer a channel that brings even more satisfaction to gospel music fans.
“It’s a great pride and responsibility for Trace. We will bring to this channel all the means and all the expertise of the group in order to place it on the top of spiritual musical channels.”
Thema CEO Fabrice Faux added: “Thema is proud to have developed Gospel Music TV to become the reference channel for this music dear to all Africans, on the continent and in France.
“I have no doubt that Trace, whose expertise in the musical field is unanimously recognised and which is a long-standing partner of Thema, will be able to take this channel even further and, thanks to this merger, double subscriber satisfaction.”
According to the companies, Trace Gospel is “the link between all cultures” and will broadcast “gospel artists from Africa, the Caribbean, the US, Europe and Latin America.”
Artists featured on the combined network will include Nathaniel Bassey, Mike Abdul, Jimmy Gait, Dena Mwana, Jermaine Edouards, J Prince, Hezekiah L. Walker, Kirk Franklin, Erica Campbell, Travis Greene, Tasha Cobbs, Olivier Cheuwa, Maggie Blanchard and Gabriela Rocha.”
With more than 200 million viewers across 160 countries, Trace is currently one of Africa’s leading music broadcasters. MTG’s sale of its 75% stake to TPG in January valued the company at €40m (US$46.7m).
Thema launched its first African TV channels package on the French market in 2008. Today, the company’s African package includes 24 channels. Thema is also creator of TV channels such as Novelas TV, Nollywood TV and Nollywood Epic.
Global satellite operator Eutelsat Communications has appointed former Canal+ executive Jean-Claude Tshipama as CEO of broadband in Africa.
The Paris-based firm has confirmed it has finalised its team in charge of broadband activities by employing Tshipama to oversee satellite broadband connectivity in Africa.
Tshipama previously worked at companies including Celtel in DR Congo, Bermuda-based Digicel Group and Microsoft. More recently, he was CEO of Canal+ in DR Congo and CEO of fashion brand Zympala in Canada.
In his new role, Tshipama’s responsibility is to ensure that Eutelsat’s broadband business is successfully deployed across Africa, drawing on the in-orbit resources of the Al Yah 3 satellite, expected to enter service next summer.
The operation of the Al Yah 3 satellite will be followed next year by the launch of the Konnect satellite, formerly called the African Broadband Satellite. According to the company, the broadband business will be one of the main focuses of Eutelsat’s growth strategy in the coming years.
“We are delighted to welcome Jean-Claude Tshipama to Eutelsat. His expert knowledge of the African market serving various industries, particularly telecommunications, will be a valuable asset to us in achieving our strong ambitions on this continent,” said Michel Azibert, Eutelsat’s chief commercial and development officer.
“We are now in perfect shape and looking forward to expanding our business in the fast-growing fixed broadband sector.”
Eutelsat is the third largest satellite operator worldwide, after SES and Intelsat. Launched in 1977, the company provides coverage in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the US. Eutelsat’s satellites broadcast to over 274 million cable and satellite homes.