Pay TV outfit MultiChoice Group has promised to support the local entertainment industry through this tumultuous time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, noted that as a result of the challenges faced by partners in the industry as well as challenges brought about by the pandemic with various sectors across the continent trying to adjust and find ways to deal with them, MultiChoice has decided to implement several measures, aimed at safeguarding the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses so as to steer the industry through this pandemic period.
He added that the company had set aside R80m to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew and creatives for the months of March and April, so as to keep the industry vibrant.
“We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view this is simply the right thing to do. Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill,” said Mawela.
Furthermore, the group has committed to guarantee the incomes of freelancers in SuperSport productions, who are currently unable to work due to the suspension of sports and the national lockdown.
The MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) has begun accepting registrations for its new online masterclass series available on the MTF portal.
Starting off with a 20-module masterclass series tagged Produce Like a Pro, the masterclass offers exclusive access to practical, expert-led skills workshops that afford film and television professionals the ability to interact and learn from the best in Africa.
According to Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment, the offering is part of MultiChoice Group’s mission to upskill emerging creatives and seasoned professionals in the Film and TV industry.
The Produce Like a Pro series will compliment recorded masterclasses which address industry concerns such as accessibility, opportunity and quality in local productions and is available to over 25 000 registered users with a profile on the MTF portal.
“What makes the Produce Like a Pro series unique is that it’s been specially designed as an A to Z package for tools and templates to equip new producers with the know-how to operate in this industry. From budgeting to casting, the modules have been created by Marie Rosholt, a highly esteemed pioneer in reality television as executive producer of 12 series of Big Brother, Survivor, Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal and other series,” said Phahle.
“The recorded masterclasses have been filmed and packaged by our MTF students sharing the industry masterclasses hosted by our MTF Academies in Lagos, Nairobi and Lusaka, with leading industry experts including Tunde Kelani, Christian Epps and Steve Gukas.”
The MTF portal is a pan-African, film and television digital marketplace for information sharing on all aspects of Africa’s creative industry. The MTF portal offers open, cost-free access to film creatives across Africa to showcase their talent, access opportunities, stay up to date with industry news and expand their industry network.
Pay TV company MultiChoice Group has introduced five new bouquet packages on its DStv and GOtv platforms to help strengthen its family offering In preparation for the festive season.
The new bouquets include DStv Confam, which has over 120 channels, DStv Yanga (94 channels), DStv Padi (51 channels), GOtv Jolli (68 channels) and GOtv Jinja (47 channels).
Starting from December 1, customers will have the option to choose from any of the bouquet packages that have been exclusively and specially curated for the Nigerian market.
John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “The introduction of the new packages is highly customised for Nigerians to unlock new levels of entertainment and value.
“We are constantly driven to ensure that customers are satisfied with the overall quality of our services. The new packages are exclusively curated from Naija and for Nigerians, driven by great programming and affordable prices. With improved package options available to our valued customers, they can choose a subscription plan that best fits their needs and budget.”
MultiChoice Group’s SuperSport has revealed it will stop broadcasting Confederation of African Football (CAF) content until further notice.
The pay TV channel will not be able to air the AFCON under-23 championship and qualifiers, which are meant to kick off this weekend, after the agreement between the CAF and France-based media group Lagardère Sports was terminated.
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive for corporate affairs, said: “SuperSport is in a difficult position where it cannot broadcast the CAF games without a firm contract in place. SuperSport had previously bought these broadcast rights from Lagardère.”
CAF scrapped a US$1bn TV and marketing rights deal with Lagardère Sports after a Cairo court ruled that the agreement violated Egyptian competition rules because Lagardère was chosen as CAF’s exclusive agent for rights for an uninterrupted 20-year period without an open tender.
MultiChoice Group has partnered with the third edition of the annual Joburg Film Festival, which is set to take place from November 19 to 24.
Aimed at showcasing the finest films from Africa and the world, the six-day film programme will have a line-up of local and international films that will be judged on elements such as storyline, direction, creativity, cinematography, relevance, execution and technical application.
The judges will be industry-leading experts such as renowned storyteller and South African novelist Zakes Mda, award-winning actress CCH Pounder and Femi Odugbemi, West Africa MultiChoice Talent Factory’s academy director.
Joburg Film Festival executive director Tim Mangwedi said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than the MultiChoice Group, an organisation that is passionate about African storytelling, as we believe our stories are our gold.
“We see the film festival as a critical catalyst for social cohesion, showcasing a special collection of films that celebrate Africa’s beauty, people and creativity and reflecting the continent’s bold spirit and talent. We are confident that, in collaboration with the MultiChoice Group, we can build a world-class annual film festival that becomes entrenched on the international film circuit and positions Johannesburg as a prime destination for local and international filmmakers.”
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive group corporate affairs, said: “As Africa’s leading storyteller, our partnership with the Joburg Film Festival makes perfect sense. Our collaborative effort to bring African stories to the world and to provide a platform for local talent to shine will be an extremely positive boost for the film industry on the continent.”
The festival will allow industry professionals from the continent and elsewhere to participate in a series of masterclasses and panel discussions covering aspects of the filmmaking craft. It will also foster strong links between people and the growing film, TV and new digital media industries on the continent.
MultiChoice Group’s pay TV platform DStv is set to lose three channels after carriage renewal talks with network operator A+E Networks broke down.
DStv subscribers in South Africa and across the continent will no longer have access to History, Crime+Investigation and Lifetime channels after the carriage contract was not renewed.
The channels carry programmes including Surviving R Kelly, Forged in Fire, American Pickers, Curse of Oak Island, Damien Lewis Spy Wars, The First 48, Homicide Hunter, Married at First Sight, Little Women, Lost Gold of World War 2, Watergate, Treasures Decoded, Crime Stories SA, Don’t Tell the Bride SA and Loved Like Crazy.
The agreement was last renewed in mid-2016 but this time the two companies have failed to negotiate a new deal over the channels, which have aired for 16, 11 and five years respectively.
In a statement, DStv said: “As part of our ongoing efforts to refresh our content line-up and optimise the suite of channels on offer, MultiChoice Group will be saying goodbye to the History, Crime+Investigation and Lifetime channels on its DStv platform at the end of the current contract term.
“The current contract expires on November 1. Viewers will, however, be able to continue enjoying some favourites such as the Housewives franchise, which is already available on 1 Magic.”
Meanwhile, MultiChoice has announced the introduction of two new channels that will show programmes similar to those that aired on the three networks that it will lose.
“We will soon be announcing the introduction of two new channels to DStv. The first is an established global brand and the other a new innovative brand. Both channels will bring exciting new titles and genres that viewers will enjoy, including others blue-chip documentaries, history and factual reality shows. In addition, we continue to increase our significant investment in local shows and content, which have great resonance with customers and are a key driver of engagement,” the statement adds.
Pay TV operator MultiChoice Group has informed its subscribers it will discontinue the DStv Select service from October 29 and will migrate them to the DStv Family package.
In a statement it said: “DStv is continuously reviewing its content line-up, packaging structure and pricing to ensure that customers have access to the best fresh content at great value. As a result, we will be discontinuing some packages and re-directing customers to the main packages where the same programmes and channels can be found.”
The company stopped selling DStv Select packages in April 2013 and replaced it with DStv Family, while existing subscribers who chose to stay with the package because it included access to Afrikaans channel KykNET were allowed to continue using it as long as they were not inactive for more than three months.
“Your favourite channels are, however, still available on our various other packages,” the company said.
MultiChoice Group’s video-on-demand service, Showmax, has launched in Nigeria with two new Big Brother Naija spin-off shows.
The shows, hosted by comedians Basketmouth and Bovi, have been produced exclusively for Showmax.
They are Big Brother Naija Extra View, a 25-minute compilation of unseen footage, and Big Brother Naija Hot Room, a 25-minute satirical commentary on the week’s main drama and action.
The company said: “Showmax Nigeria offers a dedicated slate of Nigerian television shows and movies, international hit series, Hollywood blockbusters and a Big Brother Naija partnership with live streaming and exclusive new BBNaija shows.”
Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of MultiChoice’s Connected Video division, said: “We’re aiming for the sweet spot that other services may have missed. Taking a generic service and taking on a few Nollywood movies won’t cut it, so we’re coming in with a strong mix of up-to-date Nigerian shows, international hits and favourites from across Africa, and now, as something completely new: on-demand and live Big Brother Naija content.”
Other shows to be added on the Showmax service will include Tinsel, The Johnsons, My Flatmates other Nollywood movies, Bollywood shows, telenovelas and shows from Kenya and South Africa.
ROK founder Mary Njoku and Canal+ International CEO Jacques du Puy tell Content Nigeria about this week’s deal bringing ROK under the wing of the French group.
The recent acquisition of major African film studio and international TV network ROK by French audiovisual firm Canal+ Group is a move that is geared towards strengthening the latter’s content production reach across Africa.
The deal sees Nollywood broadcaster and production studio ROK change hands for an undisclosed sum while ROK’s former owner, SVoD company Iroko Partners, takes full ownership of Francophone African SVoD platform Iroko+, which was previously a joint venture with Canal+.
Content Nigeria caught up with ROK founder Mary Njoku and Jacques du Puy, CEO of Canal+ International, to learned about the motives behind this new partnership.
Elated about the acquisition, du Puy says: “We are happy to welcome Mary Remy Njoku in the Canal+ family. We are glad to expand our activities in Africa to content production. We are proud to strengthen our channel portfolio with the popular and successful ROK channels, that will sit alongside their French sisters, Nollywood TV and Nollywood Epic.”
“I am delighted and proud,” adds Njoku, who is married to Iroko founder and CEO Jason Njoku. “The acquisition of ROK by Canal+ is a great milestone for our business and Nollywood as a whole. We are taking Nollywood to new audiences and that has always been the goal, to take our authentic African stories and share them with the world.”
Du Puy notes that the creation of Nollywood TV began some time ago. “We created Nollywood TV in 2013 after the acquisition of a Nollywood movie package from Africa Magic, part of the MultiChoice Group.
“This content immediately proved to be one of the most relevant in French-speaking Africa, and we had to partner with Iroko to ensure a regular and high-quality supply to Nollywood TV. We also sporadically bought Nollywood series from other producers in Nigeria and recently acquired a small package of premium movies to offer Canal+ subscribers in Africa a Nollywood festival on our premium channel this August.
“We have been acquiring content from Iroko ever since 2013 to feed Nollywood TV. Mary and Jason are not only partners but they are also friends now. We then invested in Iroko in 2015, becoming one of the main shareholders. There is already a long history between Canal+ and Iroko. And ROK Studios is just the largest and more successful producer and aggregator in Nigeria and Ghana,” he adds.
With this week’s deal a landmark accomplishment for the four-year-old start-up, Mary Njoku elaborates on what has propelled the success of the studio so far.
“The fans and lovers of Nollywood across the world motivate us to constantly create quality content. Nollywood fans have a voracious appetite for new content; this is why so many Nollywood films are produced each year.
“However, it is a difficult balance to maintain and develop quality at scale. I had always felt that there was a need for a studio that empowered young people to put their skills to work and create the content that we now see on our ROK, ROK2 and ROK3 channels in Africa and the UK. Now, with the fact we are working even closer with Canal+, we can take this content into French-speaking Africa and eventually the rest of the world.
“Our teams across Accra, Lagos and London cannot be left out of our success story as we all work hand in hand to make ROK story a success,” she adds.
According to both du Puy and Njoku, the deal includes the production studio as well as the four ROK-branded, English-language channels that currently air on African pay TV platforms DStv and GOtv and in the UK on Sky. Canal+ channel distribution subsidiary Thema will oversee the distribution of these channels, adding to its own Nollywood TV and Nollywood Epic channels.
Continuing her leadership role as the director general of ROK Productions, Njoku believes the content that will now be produced will be of higher quality. “With this partnership, we now have the resources to create higher-budget movies,” she says. “Our budgets are typically fairly modest, so get ready to see different types of content across all ROK platforms, including animated content – content that will cut across English- and French-speaking Africa.
“ROK will receive more resources to create content without the loss of our creative freedom. It was very important for us to retain creative rights as this is the main reason for ROK’s success today. We will develop Nollywood in French-speaking Africa and globally through Canal+’s Africa and global channels. Surely this will open more doors to other untapped parts of Africa that need to be reached. However, essentially, it will be more of the same, just at an even faster pace.”
Du Puy thinks the quality of Nollywood movies out there can be enhanced. “Talent is there and Nollywood movies are already very popular,” he says. “But it is true that the audience is more and more demanding, so the quality will progressively enhance because ROK has the unique capacity to detect, select and grow the best and newest talents in Nigeria or Ghana. In addition, we are planning to invest in technical equipment that could be lent to our associated producers.”
Both executives are preparing head-on for any challenges that may arise from this partnership. According to Njoku: “With every partnership comes challenges. However, we hope to resolve all issues amicably and as quickly as possible. We’ve been working alongside Canal+ for nearly five years now so we know how the other works, where our strengths lie, and how to get the best out of one another.”
“We first need to consolidate the leadership position of ROK Studios and go on growing the audience of the ROK channels. Then we would love to explore African kids content, which is very rare at the moment in Africa, and try to bring the Nollywood expertise to French-speaking Africa and to grow the production of daily series there,” du Puy adds.
Strengthening its position as content provider and giving it access to the entire Nollywood value chain, the deal will see Thema working with ROK as well as engage in the distribution of third-party Nollywood content to digital operators across the world; produce and distribute four channels under the ROK brand broadcasted in English-speaking Africa and the UK.
Looking forward to serving fans with more content across all platforms, Njoku says: “ROK will produce thousands of more hours of Nollywood content to deliver movies and original TV series for Canal+ Group’s audiences in French-speaking Africa. As part of the acquisition, Canal+ Group will continue to collaborate with Iroko, with non-exclusive content distribution of ROK content via the Iroko SVoD app.”
The deal, as well as moves by SVoD giants like Netflix to commission more African content for its platform, shows it’s not just African countries that are enjoying Nollywood films and TV series.
Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world, has announced the new executive leadership team for its MultiChoice Group.
The new execs include Calvo Mawela as group CEO, Imtiaz Patel as executive chairman, Tim Jacobs as chief financial officer and Brand de Villiers as chief operating officer. The appointments will take effect on November 1.
Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said: “This announcement marks a significant step for the MultiChoice Group as they journey towards a stand-alone business. I am confident that through the leadership of Imtiaz and Calvo, MultiChoice Group will continue on its growth trajectory and unlock even more value for its shareholders.”
Calvo said: “I am incredibly excited to lead our team of highly capable executives through this new and exciting chapter for our company. Our leadership team is diverse, experienced and well-positioned to grow our position as the leading entertainment company on the African continent.
“There are significant growth opportunities for MultiChoice Group in Africa. The combination of MultiChoice’s reach, Showmax and DStv Now’s cutting-edge internet television service, alongside Irdeto’s 360 security suite will provide a unique offering.”
On September 17, Naspers had made its intention to separately list its video entertainment business on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and will include MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa, Showmax Africa and Irdeto.
MultiChoice Group is one of the fastest growing pay TV operators in the world and its multi-platform business reaches 13.5 million households across Africa.