Tag Archives: EbonyLife TV

Abudu talks up African ‘opportunity’

The founder and CEO of African broadcaster EbonyLife Media believes the continent remains an untapped opportunity for producers as well as those looking to sell programming to networks and platforms there.

Mo Abudu at the International Drama Summit

Mo Abudu told delegates at her International Drama Summit keynote in London this week that US and European studios should work more closely with African writers, producers and directors to help programming become more authentic.

Her firm’s network, EbonyLife TV, which launched in 2013 and produces more than 1,000 hours of original programming each year, struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television earlier this year that will see the pair co-develop three scripted projects. Abudu said such partnerships would allow a “transfer of knowledge” and could help programming travel further.

“Can we tell these stories to a global audience? No, we cannot. But do we need to be a part of the process? Yes, we do,” she said.

“We need to be in the room. Audiences everywhere can detect very quickly if a story isn’t authentic and we’ve had our stories told by others looking in many time.”

Abudu added that now is the time for Africans to tell their own stories.

Ebonylife Media Group was born from the desire to fill the gaps in the market, she said. “My big dream was and still is to change the narrative about my continent.”

Linear lifestyle and entertainment channel EbonyLife TV was intended to offer something fresh and different, she explained. EbonyLife Films was set up in 2014 and has now produced two of the highest grossing Nollywood films of all time.

Global VoD service EbonyLife ON launched this year and EbonyLife Productions was established recently in the UK, to be followed eventually by EbonyLife Studios.

Abudu claimed that for stories to be told in an authentic way there had to be a partnership between creative and business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

“As a continent, Africa has remained creatively silent for centuries. Our stories were seldom told outside of our fami-lies and villages and often from the perspective of ‘someone’ looking in,” she said.

“These stories need to be told with authenticity and also produced to the best international standard – which can really only be done in partnership with those that understand how to get the best out of truly great stories. Nobody does it better than Hollywood for the gloss and Europe for the grit.

“But these stories cannot be told effectively without our input. If these stories are told from both perspectives there is a captive audience on both sides of the Atlantic waiting to be entertained as never before.”

Abudu’s first series, The Dahomey Warriors, is in development, while EbonyLife’s new Afro genres – Afro-history, Afro-futurism, Nigeria 2099, Afropolitan and Afro-modern and Afro-impact – are currently being worked on.

She added: “As storytellers, it’s important to remember that our emotions are not limited by language or where we come from. I think we have a responsibility to remove barriers.

“Most important of all, let us connect the world with our sto-ries. We believe that we are in a unique position to partner with those looking for fresh, authentic and original stories to take to a global audience.

“As you develop your slates, we simply ask that you consider a slate within your slate that tells our stories.”

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Tele-shopping service Shopex TV to launch

Response Architects, a new multi-channel retailer that sells innovative products for everyday life, is to launch the first international TV shopping business in Nigeria.

Isi Abebe

Shopex TV is Nigeria’s first international tele-shopping platform and is positioned to give Nigerians direct access to leading products from the global market.

It has completed its first round of financing with investment from television shopping and broadcasting advisors Expert Media Partners (EMP) based in London and is the exclusive distributor in Africa.

With television as its main channel to market, this platform is offering Nigerians a range of products they can buy at prices they can afford. The launch will kick-start with a TV campaign featuring an infomercial on December 1 to showcase one of its leading products, the Copper Chef pan.

This TV campaign will run in partnership with DStv, EbonyLife TV, TVC and Silverbird TV. Viewers will be able to place their orders for the product by calling dedicated numbers and will receive their order the next day.

Shopex TV was founded by Isi Abebe, MD of Response Architects Marketing, who worked as head of media planning and strategy in one of the biggest TV shopping companies in the UK.

“We’re excited about this project, having observed Nigeria’s logistics and payment platforms mature over the years. We’re confident that we can make it work and we have a line-up of great products and offers from across the globe that we believe will appeal to the Nigerian market,” said Abebe.

Ed Hall, managing partner at EMP, said: “We have worked on complex broadcast projects in Nigeria since 2003, and we have developed plans for television shopping in East and West Africa in the past. We are delighted that with Isi and Shopex we saw for the first time an experienced and credible management team, and we are very happy to be early-stage investors in this business.”

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London university honours Abudu

Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigerian broadcaster EbonyLife TV, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminister in London.

Mo Abudu

The award was for her contributions to the broadcasting industry in Nigeria and the presentation took place at the university’s annual graduation ceremony on November 12.

A broadcaster, filmmaker and producer of the very first pan-African talkshow, Moments with Mo, Abudu had previously obtained a masters degree in manpower studies at the university in 1993.

She said: “I would like to say a big thank-you to the University of Westminster for awarding me an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts, in recognition of my contributions to broadcasting enterprise in Nigeria.

“My second honorary degree – it’s really exciting to be recognised for doing what you love.”

EbonyLife TV is now a media group, encompassing broadcasting, TV and movie production, and video-on-demand services.

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Abudu launches mentorship programme

Mo Abudu, the founder and CEO of African network EbonyLife TV, has launched a mentorship scheme to coincide with her 54th birthday.

Mo Abudu

Abudu plans to mentor 100 Nigerian women via the programme, titled The Power Series for Today’s Woman.

The media mogul said her experience has gifted her a wealth of knowledge that she now hopes to use to help others pursue better careers and reach their goals.

“I have gained a huge amount of experience throughout my life as a serial entrepreneur. It is with pleasure and excitement that I launch my mentoring scheme for women aged 18 to 34. These young women will receive help to define their passion and to make a difference in their lives and careers, one moment at a time,” Abudu said.

Registration is free, and interested women can apply by clicking here. The deadline for applications is December 31.

Shortlisted applicants will get a chance for a one-on-one mentoring session with Abudu on January 14, 2019.

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NITV puts revenues in spotlight

L-R: Agatha Amata, Heidi Huy, Paul Igwe, Ijeoma Onah and Ana Ballo

Producers deliberated on the issue of revenues at the recently concluded Nigeria International Television (NITV) Summit.

A plenary, attended by many TV industry producers, addressed the topic of What Producers Want: The Battle For Revenues & Justifying Production Investments.

Speakers included TV presenter and Rave TV CEO Agatha Amata, EMCOAN president Paul Igwe, EbonyLife TV’s head of programming Heidi Huys and Ana Ballo, CEO of RTI Distribution. The session was moderated by Ijeoma Onah, founder of NITV and sister event Nigeria International Film Summit.

Speaking about producers’ expectations and how the industry often falls short of them, Amata said that new producers in Nigeria must have a side business in order to sustain their work.

“Producers should stick to their day jobs because if the content holders don’t get their channels picked they can go back to the beginning,” she said.

However, according to Huys, producers can ensure growth in business and increase in revenue with the right strategy. “Budgets ever only go one way and that is down. Therefore, to remain sustainable you must realise that creating content is not about all you love but what your market likes,” she said.

“Learn to know what appeals to them, prepare content based on that and success is ensured because people will go out of their way to seek your content.

“Your decision to produce as a producer should always be dependent on demand, if you want to make it in this country, otherwise you will be left hanging. The problem is that when we produce we don’t have people in mind, we just produce and that’s not right,” said Igwe.

The panel agreed that it is hard to develop content in Nigeria and expect full returns because there are no records, no favourable policies from the government and hardly any support.

“In Nigeria, we have no data. We do not have facts that support our information because there are no templates to operate on,” said Amata.

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EbonyLife to play The Dating Game

Broadcaster EbonyLife TV is set to air the Nigerian version of US gameshow format The Dating Game soon and has a major sponsor attached.

The broadcaster recently signed a partnership with telecommunications company Airtel Nigeria that will see the company sponsor the show.

Airtel Nigeria’s chief commercial officer Dinesh Balsingh said: “I am pleased with the partnership with EbonyLife to deliver the maiden edition of The Dating Game Nigeria to the homes and smartphones of our esteemed telecoms consumers.

“Without a doubt, the vision of the show aligns with our philosophy of connecting people and Airtel will not relent in its quest of creating and supporting credible and exciting platforms that will further unite us as Nigerians.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the show can apply here.

The Dating Game is a TV reality show that offers single people a chance to find a suitable partner by pairing them up with who best suits them.

The series is being produced under licence from Sony Pictures Television and will start on EbonyLife TV before the end of the year. It will have its finale during the Valentine season in 2019.

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Coker to teach TV presenting

Award-winning Nigerian TV presenter Stephanie Coker is set to launch a presenting course next month.

Stephanie Coker

The two-day course will feature intensive studies on how to be a presenter, some of which will focus on using a teleprompter, script writing, studio and location presenting and interview techniques.

According to Coker, the maiden edition of the programme aims to teach participants what it takes to be a TV presenter in the digital era. It will take place on September 1 and 2 costing N50,000 (US$138). Those interested can apply by registering here.

The masterclass comes a few months after TV presenter Bolanle Olukanni also launched a similar course teaching the right approach to TV presenting.

Coker began her media career in 2011 as an anchor of the Street Request show on MTV Base Africa. Since then, she has acted as co-host on several platforms, such as MTV Big Friday Show, EbonyLife TV and The Voice Nigeria. She is presently a co-host of The Morning Show on Arise News.

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Entries sought for The Dating Game

EbonyLife TV is calling for entries for its adaptation of international television format The Dating Game.

Mo Abudu

In a post on Instagram, Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, has said those interested can now apply to take part in The Dating Game Nigeria.

“If you’re looking for love, the wait is almost over. EbonyLife TV, in partnership with Sony Pictures Television [SPT], is pleased to announce that applications for Dating Game Nigeria are now open. This could be your chance to find the partner of your dreams,” she wrote.

In March, EbonyLife TV announced its plans to launch the first ever African adaptation of the show, in partnership with SPT, sometime this year.

The Dating Game offers single people a chance to find a suitable partner by pairing them up. The gameshow involves an individual asking three potential partners a series of questions and picking the one whose answers attract them the most.

The Dating Game (aka Blind Date) has been on air since the 1960s and is set to reach more audiences in Africa by launching on EbonyLife TV.

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EbonyLife TV builds Tiannah’s Empire

African lifestyle network EbonyLife TV is set to launch the second season of reality show Tiannah’s Empire.

After a successful first season, Tiannah’s Empire returns to the pan-African channel (DSTV channel 165) today at 19.30, with its producers promising plenty of drama and intrigue.

The show focuses follows fashion stylist and serial entrepreneur Toyin Lawani.

From today, EbonyLife TV is also broadcasting on StarTimes, giving more viewers access to the network.

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EbonyLife seeks brand manager

Pan-African lifestyle channel EbonyLife TV is looking for a brand manager.

The recently rebranded network wants to hire someone in the role “to maintain our brand’s integrity across all marketing initiatives and communications.”

Interested candidates must have at least five years’ experience and strong marketing and communication skills to be considered for the position.

Candidates can indicate interest by sending an email to [email protected], with an August 21 deadline for applications.

EbonyLife TV is broadcast across Africa on DSTV channel 165. It is also set to launch its channel on StarTimes (DTT 189 and DTH 191) on August 1.

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EbonyLife’s Abudu scales Summit

In a speeech to the Creative Nigeria Summit, EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu, the ‘Oprah of Africa,’ revealed her company’s strategy and ambitions.

Mo Abudu at CNS 2018

Mo Abudu is referred to as the Oprah of Africa, or as Africa’s most successful woman, according to Forbes Magazine.

These epithets are unsurprising as she constantly proves her prowess and dedication to her role as CEO of EbonyLife TV, the first pan-African TV channel owned by an African woman.

In her speech at the second edition of the Creative Nigeria Summit this week, she took us through her journey of the past five years as CEO of EbonyLife TV and gave hints about what to expect from future projects, also giving a detailed account of the drama deal between EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television.

This is her speech in full:

First and foremost, I would like to thank the organisers of the Creative Nigeria Summit for creating this platform for our sector – the media and entertainment sector, the creative sector, the sector of show business. Congratulations on hosting your second summit.

The creative sector is wide and vast and includes so many sectors and sub-sectors, but I will simply focus on what I’ve been asked to speak about today, The Creative Vision and Process Behind Global Drama Hits.

We cannot speak about the creative vision and process behind global drama hits without making reference to global leaders in this space. I would therefore like to share with you a short summary of the most watched shows by some of the largest streaming platforms.

To start with, let’s talk about Netflix.

American Vandal is a comedy drama that takes a look at the aftermath of a high school prank that left 27 faculty members’ cars vandalised. Second, 13 Reasons Why is a drama series that revolves around a teenage girl’s suicide and the mystery around her tragic death. Third, Riverdale is a teen drama series that features a star-studded cast navigating the troubled waters of sex, romance, school and family in the small town of Riverdale

The Sons of the Caliphate looks at the ‘flamboyant aristocratic Northern Nigerian lifestyle’

Now, let’s move on to Amazon. The Man in the High Castle is a history series that offers a scary glimpse at an alternate history in which Hitler won World War Two. Second, One Mississippi is a comedy series about a radio host who returns to Mississippi after receiving news that her mother will be taken off life support. Third, The Tick is a series based on a superhero in a blue tick costume who arrives in the city to help combat crime and uncover the mysterious figure behind the city’s underworld.

Another major streaming giant is HBO, which we’re all familiar with. Game of Thrones is an epic TV series about the tale of royal feuds, dynastic conflict and the struggle for ultimate control in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Second, Big Little Lies, a series about ex-husbands and second wives, schoolyard scandals, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Third, Westworld is a series that centres on a futuristic theme park with some dirty secrets and a Western motif, where the wealthy can pay to experience adventure that real life could never provide

What is important to note is that I have taken the liberty to include EbonyLife ON as a future global giant. Because we believe in global best practices.

Two weeks ago, we launched EbonyLife ON across the continent, a video-on-demand service that allows subscribers all over the world to watch our treasure trove of content for a nominal fee. Since then, we have witnessed nearly 10,000 downloads from our Apple and Google app stores, and our web portal numbers are well over 10,000.

Fifty: The Series follows four women in their middle years

The most watched shows on EbonyLife ON are:

  • Castle & Castle, a legal drama series set in a successful Lagos law firm run by Remi and Tega Castle. Will the marriage survive the business or will the business survive the marriage?
  • The Sons of the Caliphate, a drama series about the lives of three rich, entitled, passionate and ambitious young men. It is a journey into the rich cultural and flamboyant aristocratic Northern Nigerian lifestyle.
  • Fifty: The Series, which follows the lives of four women who are forced to take mid-life inventories as ambition and betrayal threaten their relationships.

Globally, it’s all about the ratings and not sentiment.

From what we can see, it’s all about science-fiction, like Game of Thrones; Murder Mysteries, like 13 Reasons Why and Romance, like our very own Castle & Castle.

So, who decides on setting the creative vision and process? The showrunner.

The showrunner is the 21st century term for the leading executive producer of a Hollywood television series in the US. The concept has since been adopted in the Canadian and British TV industries.

A showrunner typically has creative control of a TV series production, through combining the responsibilities of the head writer, executive producer and script editor.

In order for this vision to become a reality, the showrunner sets up the writers’ room. The writers’ room is the room in which the showrunner and the writers of a television series collaborate on the plot and develop the script.

All writers are expected to participate in the pitching process, speaking up and offering their ideas or listening to everyone else’s pitches. This is where episodes are sliced up for individual writers to develop.

The Wedding Party shows what happens when a couple’s wedding plans go badly wrong

I personally believe the ‘beat sheet’ is one of the most important elements in this process. This is what we as Nigerians and writers across the continent need to spend more time on.

A beat equates to about a minute of show time and there is roughly one page of script per beat.

I would suggest further research in this area. Looking at the work of Blake Synder, an American writer who has developed what is known as a BeatSheet Calculator. According to Snyder, every good script should have a certain structure. There is a lot information online about this process and it’s one that we need to adhere to if we want our stories to be stronger, captivating, entertaining and leave your audience wanting more.

Talking about leaving your audience captivated, entertained and wanting more – even if I say so myself – we achieved this with The Wedding Party. Using global best practices was key to our process. I’d like to share a few key lessons on The Wedding Party franchise with you.

The audience should be able to relate to the story and characters. What we found with The Wedding Party is that it didn’t matter where you were from, how old you were, or your religious background. We’re all able to relate to this story. As we all know, The Wedding Party is an everyday story about a couple’s big wedding plans that turn into a nightmare that includes exes, fighting parents and uninvited guests – most, if not all of us can relate to this.

To ensure our audience can relate to the characters in our script, we spent a great deal of time casting. We looked at the current relevance and social media following of all the actors. The use of A-list actors for The Wedding Party played a huge role in ensuring its success.

The next step was to bring a director on board with a clear vision to guide the cast and crew. Experienced crew for photography, sound, lighting and music were all critical.

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of marketing. With enough time for marketing, you can create anticipation for a film. The Wedding Party began publicity six months before its cinema release, hence the various records broken by The Wedding Party 1 and 2.

In fact, we started marketing the film from the first day on set. Every day during production, we shared the process with our audience with posts on social media and clips from the most interesting behind the scenes moments.

Nollywood’s Richard Mofe-Damijo in Castle & Castle

Screenings at festivals around the world position the film in the world market and attracts buyers. The world premiere of The Wedding Party took place at the Toronto International Film Festival. Getting into an international film festival is in itself another process. We were excited that we had a sold-out premiere with over 1,400 people from all over the world. This event really helped with publicity in social media, blogs and print.

And as you know, we have the largest movie premieres in Nigeria that could have been held anywhere across the globe. From our red carpets, to our dress code, to our themed events, to VVIP list as long as my arm. From the ‘save the dates’ to the invites to the entertainment and dinner, to the after-party.

Generally, all the razzmatazz and paparazzi. This makes for the most glamourous event, we know, as Nigerians we love glamour. This adds to building anticipation of the cinema release.

The Wedding Party was released in the run-up to Christmas, allowing for mid-week afternoon shows to be sold out. We hosted media screenings to help to get mentions of the film out in advance. Once we were in the cinema, we hosted meet and greet events with the cast. We kept our audience excited about our numbers in the box office from week to week.

Last, but not least, I’d like to talk about our partnership with Sony. Just five months ago, we finalised a three-project production deal with Sony Pictures Television and became the first African production company to partner with a major Hollywood studio. Years of development was put into this particular project that Sony chose – major lesson for us – we must also put in the work and be ready.

Finally, I’d like to talk to you about EbonyLife TV. We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary on July 1. We restructured our business to focus on four key areas. We were able to do this because of the lay of the land and the opportunities that we have found in Nigeria over the last six years.

I say six years, because we spent an entire year creating programmes before we launched the channel on July 1, 2013. Prior to that an additional four years on conceptualising the brand you now see. So, a 10-year journey.

EbonyLife TV, our linear channel, broadcasts on DStv 165 and StarTimes 107 and 191 in Africa, and on Flow in 10 Caribbean countries. With the creation of EbonyLIfe TV, we realised that African audiences want to see themselves in their own stories, on television and at the cinema.

They want to see an African narrative that reflects their own struggles and triumphs, the closeness of their relationships and the progress being made in their emerging societies. We were tired of being portrayed in perpetual crisis: war, famine and corruption. We decided to change that narrative.

We know how important it is to continue to change the narrative. We started with TV and within a year of launching EbonyLife TV, we launched EbonyLife Films.

We have produced the biggest films in Nollywood to date. They include Fifty, The Wedding Party movies, Royal Hibiscus Hotel and our new December film, Chief Daddy.

We recently acquired the rights to Professor Wole Soyinka’s play Death & the King’s Horseman. We see this as a global feature film release and we are hard at work on bringing this to the world of global cinema.

EbonyLife Studios is a film production service for in-house projects and third-party clients. We have seen this need grow over the years – a need to service our own productions and that of other commercial organisations requiring the production of events, infomercials, commercials and other video generated content.

EbonyLife ON is our global video-on-demand (VoD) digital service for viewers who want to enjoy high-quality series and movies at their convenience. This expands our reach dramatically, beyond satellite TV platforms. Now, anyone with an internet-connected mobile device can watch our content, no longer constrained by TV schedules or expensive monthly subscriptions.

We are pleased with the numbers we have seen so far – we have nearly 10,000 downloads. This is with little or no advertising, and just shows the potential of the market and the potential within the market.

Research tells us that by 2023 that there will be 10 million SVoD subscribers across the continent of Africa, with the most growth coming from Nigeria and South Africa. The opportunities within our SVoD and digital market are still early stage with no winners at the moment.

We believe the companies with the best content will ultimately win – keeping the consumer in mind and his or her preferences for programming. This is the most exciting part of our business as we believe everything we do is tied to growing into a media tech company.

EbonyLife ON Mobile is a partnership with MTN, Airtel and 9 Mobile. Mobile communications technology has allowed Nigeria to leapfrog into the future with the widespread use of smartphones. Rapidly increasing bandwidth is creating a brand-new landscape for video content producers like us. We work with these telcos on specific special offers – data packaged along with an agreed piece of EbonyLife branded content.

What does the future hold for us?

Our dream is to continue to create premium content and ensure that we are able to distribute this content to the world using the best of technology, giving everyone the opportunity for a limited amount an opportunity to join our world and share our story with audiences across the globe.

My personal philosophy is: “If you can think it, you can do it.” So, when others look at Nigeria or Africa and see challenges, I see opportunity – lots of it. If you can help to solve the problems, the rewards are great.

Q&A
In a brief Q&A with Africa MediaWorks CEO Lindsey Oliver, Abudu later opened up about how it all started, stating: “I’m a very spiritual person and I believe everything happens through the guidance of God.

“We started at Cross River State. I remember being invited to Calabar by a good friend of mine, meanwhile, as that was happening, one of my sponsors was demanding that I get on social media and threatening to drop Moments with Mo if I don’t. So, I got on social media, sent a tweet saying how much I enjoyed being at Calabar and got to meet the governor. These things didn’t happen all at once but I felt it was preordained.

“At times, you’re never quite sure how it would go, if anybody had told me that joining social media and meeting the governor would lead to where we are today, I may not have believed them. I think the secret is, keep putting your story out there – if I hadn’t shared my vision with the then Cross River State governor and him his, EbonyLife may not have begun operations in Calabar, truly, the plan was actually to launch here in Lagos. So, one key thing to note is, if you don’t share your vision it will never be reality!”

When asked about her views on the regulatory and censorship environment in Nigeria, Mo said: “I think censorship is important but I would like it to be relaxed a bit more because it squashes creativity and if it continues like this, we would lose our audiences to content not created by us. They would begin to consume what’s not local – in fact, that’s already happening. We need to be realistic about what’s happening, we need to be able to share our stories.”

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Wedding Channel shows to join EbonyLife

Content from The Wedding Channel Africa is set to launch on EbonyLife TV.

An hour’s worth of content focusing on weddings, including Barroom Therapy and Wedding Police, will be available on EbonyLife TV (DSTV channel 165).

The Wedding Channel Africa was unveiled in May and is said to be the first network of its kind in Africa.

Parent company Wedding Channel Africa also plans to broadcast content on other TV networks, including AIT, Silverbird TV, Fame TV and Ben TV.

The times the channel’s programmes will air on EbonyLife have yet to be disclosed.

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EbonyLife ON comes to Africa

Lagos-based African TV channel EbonyLife TV is set to launch its VoD service across the continent next month.

Mo Abudu

EbonyLife ON will go live on July 1, the same day the network celebrates its fifth birthday, EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu told Nigerian national daily Thisday. The service was previously only available outside Africa, targeting African diaspora.

“Starting on July 1, we will launch our online video-on-demand service, EbonyLife ON – including EbonyLife ON Mobile – in Africa, with selected movies and other shows available on MTN Shortz, Cloud 9 Cinema and Nuvu,” Abudu said.

EbonyLife TV was launched with the aim of becoming Africa’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle network. It now airs in 49 African countries via one of the continent’s leading pay TV networks, DSTV.

Abudu also said the channel was set to boost its reach with a new carriage deal. “Our broadcast reach will include an additional 11 million homes across Africa on the StarTimes satellite network,” she said.

Discussing new shows heading to the network, she added: “We’re launching Africa’s first legal drama, Castle & Castle, and The Dating Game Nigeria, a format that has been a hit for 53 years around the world – not to mention our Christmas blockbuster, Chief Daddy, with a host of Nollywood’s brightest stars.”

EbonyLife TV recently agreed a partnership with Sony Pictures Television to coproduce three TV projects, one of which is an original TV series based on The Dahomey Warriors.

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EbonyLife ON captures Castle & Castle

Legal drama series Castle & Castle will air exclusively on EbonyLife’s VoD service EbonyLife ON from July 1.

Nollywood’s Richard Mofe-Damijo in Castle & Castle

Billed as the first legal TV drama in Nigeria, the show centres on a family who struggle to remain united and keep the family law firm running despite numerous challenges.

It is produced by Isioma Osaje and Temidayo Abudu, and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, Tope Oshin and Kenneth Gyang.

The series features the likes of Richard Mofe Damijo, Dakore Akande, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Denola Grey, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Dorcas Shola  Fapson, Ade Laoye, Diipo Ayo-Adeusi and Anee Icha.

EbonyLife TV focuses on a pan-African audience, creating original TV series and films such as Fifty The Series, The Governor and Sons of Caliphate. Launched in December 2017, EbonyLife ON aims to provide the network’s services to a global audience.

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Africa says I do to Wedding Channel

Wedding Channel Africa will air such shows as Barroom Therapy

Africa’s first wedding-focused channel has been launched, providing wedding-related content 24 hours a day.

Wedding Channel Africa promises viewers an array of programmes that will focus on lifestyle, fashion and everything in between linked to weddings.

Content from the channel will also occupy slots on other TV networks, including EbonyLife TV, AIT, Silverbird TV, Fame TV and Ben TV.

Shows broadcasting exclusively on Wedding Channel Africa include Barroom Therapy, Wedding Police and 5 Years After.

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USAID-backed drama looks at war, terror

A new Nigerian-set TV series funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun airing.

2Baba

In Love & Ashes is broadcast weekly on EbonyLife TV, DSTV channel 165 and NTA. It began broadcasting on April 4.

Set in Maiduguri, Borno State, the show addresses the issues of war and terrorism and how it has affected people’s lives, showing us a glimpse of the Nigerian spirit.

The eight-part series is written and produced by Watershed Entertainment.

At the launch event at the end of March, the US ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said: “This dramatic and entertaining series reminds us why so many Nigerians take pride in being Nigerians. It celebrates Nigerians’ diversity, resilience, dynamism, creativity, tolerance and warmth. Those are the forces and the qualities that unite Nigerians and Nigeria.”

Nigerian artist 2Baba recorded the soundtrack to the series and performed it at the launch event. The cast includes Patience Ozokwor, Charles Etubiebi, Nafisat Abdullahi, Sani Danja, Tijjani Usman Faraga, Anita Pam and Meg Otanwa.

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EbonyLife, Sony agree drama pact

Nigerian broadcaster and producer EbonyLife has linked up with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) to co-develop three scripted projects.

Mo Abudu

The three-project deal, the first of its kind between SPT and a Nigerian television company, will include a TV series inspired by the Dahomey Warriors.

The action series, based on true events in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, will tell the story of the all-female warriors. Details of the two additional projects will follow later this year, with SPT set to distribute all three internationally.

Mo Abudu, CEO at EbonyLife, said the partnership would allow it “to bring the fascinating story of The Dahomey Warriors, and many others like it, to audiences around the world.”

Wayne Garvie, president of international production at SPT, said: “Our aim is to help EbonyLife create a portfolio of African content that will fulfil their aim of being one of Africa’s prime creators of premium content.”

EbonyLife TV launched in 2013 and produces over 1000 hours of original programming each year, 80% of which belongs exclusively to the network.

Last month, the broadcaster commissioned a local version of SPT’s relationship format The Dating Game. It has also picked up a raft of programming from distributor TVF and last year started production on Castle & Castle, which it claims to be Nigeria’s first legal drama series.

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Nigerian version of Dating Game ordered

Blind Date was revived on Channel 5

Nigerian broadcaster EbonyLife TV has commissioned a local version of Sony Pictures Television (SPT)’s relationship format The Dating Game.

EbonyLife TV is planning to produce the first ever African adaptation of the show this spring for debut later this year.

The Dating Game (aka Blind Date) offers hopeful singletons the chance to find love by putting questions to three out-of-sight potential suitors and picking the one whose answers attract them the most.

The format, which has been running since the 1960s, has been seeing something of a revival of late, having recently been commissioned by Network Ten in Australia, based on the UK version Blind Date.

Blind Date in the UK, produced by SPT-owned Stellify Media and ITV Studios-owned So Television, returned to UK screens last year on Channel 5, and has been recommissioned for a second season. Finnish broadcaster Nelonen and RTL in the Netherlands have also seen success with their local adaptations of the classic format, which now airs in over 25 countries.

EbonyLife TV recently picked up a raft of programming from distributor TVF, including Back2back Productions’ biographical series The Changing Face Of… and contemporary art series Brilliant Ideas (75×24’), produced by Bloomberg TV.

Last year, the Lagos-based network started production on Castle & Castle, which it claims to be Nigeria’s first ever legal drama series.

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Women in Nigerian TV: Mo Abudu

“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness. Never, ever take no for an answer; keep pushing until you get results.” Mo Abudu.

Mo Abudu at the premiere of The Wedding Party 2

Content Nigeria is celebrating International Women’s Day this month by focusing on notable women in the country’s TV industry.

We kick off with Mo Abudu, a woman whose tenacity, zeal and passion have helped her to break through frontiers in the world of media.

Veering into the world of broadcasting from unrelated business ventures such as human resources (HR) and hotel management, Mosunmola Abudu has proven to the world that she achieves whatever she sets her mind to.

Abudu, 53, popularly known as Mo Abudu, is one of Africa’s leading media moguls and a philanthropist. She gained a master’s degree in HR management from the University of Westminster in London. Afterwards, she worked at ExxonMobil for 10 years as the head of HR before starting up her HR development company, Vic Lawrence & Associates.

However, she later sought to pursue her dreams of becoming a TV presenter by going to the London Film School. Upon gaining a degree, Abudu launched her TV talkshow, Moments With Mo, in 2009. She interviewed many notable personalities, such as Wole Soyinka, Hillary Clinton, Mohammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida. Her talkshow addressed a range of topics, from lifestyle to politics.

Moments With Mo later became the first syndicated TV talkshow on African regional television. It airs in more than 40 countries across Africa, as well as on EbonyLife TV hosted by Vimbai Mutinhiri, Bolanle Olukanni and Tallaulah Doherty.

Abudu was the brains behind the now defunct reality TV show The Debaters, a competitive show where participants live together for 13 weeks and debate topical issues and the winner was given a cash prize. The Debaters aired for three seasons.

In 2013, Abudu became the first African woman to own a TV network, EbonyLife TV. EbonyLife airs original programmes and TV drama series such as Moments, EL Now, Men’s Corner, Sons of The Caliphate and Fifty.

In 2014, she debuted her first film, Fifty, at the Toronto Film Festival, to much acclaim. In 2016, EbonyLife Films coproduced The Wedding Party, a movie that still holds the record for being the highest grossing film in Nigeria. Its sequel premiered in Dubai in December 2017 and was also a record hit.

Abudu was also behind Desperate Housewives Africa, a pan-African adaptation of popular US drama series Desperate Housewives, as executive producer. Furthermore, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is currently in cinemas across the country.

Abudu has been described has ‘Africa’s Oprah’ and Forbes magazine recognised her as the first African woman to own a pan-African TV channel. She was also listed in the Hollywood Reporter has one of 25 most powerful women in global TV.

Abudu has received numerous honours, such as the Institute of Directors Fellowship Award and Entrepreneurial Award (2017), City People Movie Special Recognition Award(2017 and 2015) and City People Movie Award for Best Movie Producer of the Year (2017).

Abudu continues to scale heights few dare dream about. She is fearless, always looking for the next mountain to climb and can’t wait to see and experience what’s in store next.

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EbonyLife names Moments host

Vimbai Mutinhiri

Nigerian broadcaster Ebonylife TV has announced that Vimbai Mutinhiri will replace Toke Makinwa as co-host of its Friday night chatshow Moments.

A former Big Brother Africa housemate and Zimbabwean TV personality, Mutinhiri will join Moments to co-host alongside Bolanle Olukanni and Tallulah Doherty, beginning the fourth season of Moments with a new face.

Content Nigeria reported the departure of Mackinaw here yesterday.

The new season promises more interviews looking at African culture and workplace drama. Moments is a spin-off from Moments with Mo and airs on Ebonylife TV via DSTV channel 165 on Fridays at 22.00.

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