All posts by John Winfield

Apalowo film to premiere at BIFF

Babatunde Apalowo’s film All the Colours of the World Are Between Black & White has been selected to premiere at the 73rd edition of the Berlin International Film Festival (BIFF).

Babatunde Apalowo

In the film, Bambino and Bawa meet in Lagos and hit it off immediately. During their long trips around the city, they develop a deep affection for each other. But in a society that considers homosexuality taboo, they feel the pressure of social norms.

The film is written and directed by Apalowo and produced by Damilola Orimogunje. It stars Tope Tedela, Riyo David, Martha Ehinome, Uche Chika and Floyd Anekew.

Apalowo said; “I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this story with audiences at one of the most prestigious festivals in the world.”

The BIFF takes place from February 16 to 26 in Berlin attracts the elite of the film industry as well as the largest audience of any film festival in the world, according to its organisers.

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Joburg Film Festival line-up revealed

This year’s Joburg Film Festival (JFF) will showcase more than 60 selected films from South Africa, Tunisia, Brazil, Seoul, USA, Japan, Morocco and others.

The JFF takes place in the South African city from January 31 to February 5.

It will feature a range of audience and industry initiatives, including the JBX Content Market and JFF Industry programme, which will be held on February 1 and 2 at the Sandton Convention Centre and The Theatre on the Square at Nelson Mandela Square.

The JBX market will be positioned as an extension of the JFF, taking place alongside it as a a B2B in-person platform engineered to fast-track the transformation of Africa’s audiovisual industries through market-access opportunities and tributes to talent, entrepreneurs and luminaries who are propelling these industries forward.

Content being offered to buyers will include a diverse selection of finished titles made in Africa and adaptation rights to scripted and unscripted programmes.

The JFF Industry Programme, meanwhile, will focus on African stories and storytellers, as well as the new platforms and technologies that are providing new spaces and opportunities for African content to go global.

There will also be a series of conversations, panel discussions and masterclasses.

Day one will begin with a session titled Sustainable Business Models in Film and TV: Cost Plus versus Co-Production, followed by The Rise of Documentary, hosted by Steps Generation Africa.

One day two, there will be an interactive session called Nigeria and South Africa Co-Production, focusing on the importance of collaboration with the Nigerian industry, in partnership with the NFVF and the Nigerian Film Corporation. There will also be a masterclass with Wole Soyinka titled Intersection Between Technology and Story.

Another session tagged Cross Atlantic Collaboration: Co-Producing with the USA will be hosted and moderated by Locations Africa and will discuss the importance of international coproductions.

The industry programme will also have sessions focusing on women in film and highlighting female directors, as well as a session presented by SWIFT (Safety for Women in Film and Television/Intimacy) and Safety Contact Officers.

Buyers, aggregators, broadcasters and streamers who are looking to connect and do business with some of Africa’s top content creators can register here to participate/exhibit at the JBX Market.

Now in its fifth year, the JFF curates and showcases of African and international films while providing young talent and filmmakers with opportunities for development, training, skills transfer and networking, according to its organisers.

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Great Bake Off rises in Algeria

Algerian cablenet Echourouk TV has commissioned a local version of The Great Bake Off, making it the 40th territory to license the format.

The original Great British Bake Off was made by Love Productions

The original show, The Great British Bake Off, was produced by Love Productions and the format is distributed by BBC Studios Distribution. The 8×90′ Algerian adaptation is produced by NoFilter and will debut this weekend.

The Algerian series will be presented by Mehdi Yadess and judged by chef Mehdi Hadj Mebarekand La Louza. Fouede Zabaiou, CEO at NoFilter, brought in expertise and talent from BBC Studios France to produce the show.

Mercotte, who features in the French version of the series, Le Meilleur Patissier, will be a guest judge for the first episode.

This year new adaptations of the format will be launching in Morocco and South Africa, where it is returning after a five-year hiatus. Further launches will be announced in due course, BBC Studios Distribution said.

African TV subs to rise by 16 million

Africa: pay TV subs by platform in 2028 (million)

The number of pay TV subscriptions in Africa is set to increase by 16 million by 2028, leading to a total of 57 million across the continent, according to Digital TV Research

Subscriber numbers are expected to climb by 38% between 2022 and 2028. However, pay TV revenues will rise by only 29%, indicating that subscribers will pay less, said the UK analysis firm.

African pay TV revenues are tipped to reach US$6.44bn by 2028, up from US$4.99bn in 2022. South Africa-based MultiChoice (which operates satellite service DStv and terrestrial service GOtv), StarTimes/StarSat and Canal+/Easy TV account for 89% of Africa’s pay TV subscribers.

While MultiChoice will continue to lead, with 21 million subscribers expected by 2028, StarTimes/StarSat will account for 19 million and Canal+/Easy TV will follow with 11 million, said Digital TV Research.

“No new major players will start. Instead, these three operators will battle for supremacy, often by cutting prices,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

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Mzansi Magic readies new telenovela

Gqeberha: The Empire

MultiChoice-owned South African entertainment channel Mzansi Magic will premiere a new telenovela at the start of next week.

Launching on January 16, Gqeberha: The Empire is produced by Tshedza Pictures, the Johannesburg-based prodco behind shows such as 100% Youth and Come Again.

The show follows a man (played by Mbulelo Grootboom) who seemingly has it all: family, love, money, power, glory, respect – and three wives. The three different yet strong women are played by Zikhona Sodlaka, Zandile Msutwana and Kay Bikitsha.

The cast also includes Phila Madlingozi, Anele Matoti, Unati Guma and Akhenime Mfenyana.

Shirley Adonisi, director of local entertainment channels at MultiChoice’s channels arm M-Net, said: “Mzansi Magic is excited to premiere a new telenovela, which is one of the genres our channel is known for and that our viewers enjoy greatly.

“With its premiere, we are excited to expand into Gqeberha and the Eastern Cape – a first for the telenovela world. With the incredible quality of storytelling from one of the top production houses on the continent, we are optimistic that the audiences will fall in love with the series.”

Gqeberha: The Empire is filmed entirely in the Eastern Cape and will debut on January 16 at 21.00 on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161).

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EbonyLife’s Sunday Affair set for Netflix

A Sunday Affair, a new romance film produced by Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media, will debut on global streamer Netflix next month.

A Sunday Affair

Written by Darrel Bristow-Bovey and directed by Walter Taylaur, the movie will become available on Valentine’s Day (February 14).

A Sunday Affair follows two female best friends who fall in love with a charming yet flawed eligible bachelor who is caught up in an unenviable dilemma. A love triangle ensues, with the women unaware they are dating the same man.

The cast includes Nse Ikpe Etim, Dakorea Egbuson, Alex Ekubo, Hilda Dokubo, Chris Iheuwa and Uzor Osimpkpa.

Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media, said: “A Sunday Affair is an original idea that has been playing around in my head for nearly 10 years. It has been written and rewritten by several writers, each time adding a layer of richness to the story.

“It’s wonderful to see this film launch on Netflix on Valentine’s Day. This underscores how special this film is.”

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Showmax to stream Big Brother Titans

MultiChoice-owned VoD service Showmax will stream the latest African edition of Big Brother, Big Brother Titans, from January 15.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu (left) and Lawrence Maleka

Nigerian media personality Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and Mzansi presenter Lawrence Maleka will co-host the show, which will bring together selected housemates from the previous Nigerian and South African editions of the format in one house to compete for the ultimate prize.

“Big Brother Titans is a special edition of the widely loved Big Brother show,” said MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe. “This special edition is a fusion of two TV phenomena, BBNaija and BBMzansi. It promises an abundance of Nigerian and South African swag, banter, romance and everything in between.

“This is a meeting of the Titans, and the winner will take home a sum of N150m [US$337,000] of prizes, including a brand new SUV. As usual, the viewers on DStv and GOtv will be able to vote and keep their favourite housemates on the show.”

Big Brother Titans, which runs for 72 days, will be available to stream 24/7 on Showmax, as well as DStv channel 198 and GOtv channel 29.

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Amzat, Leye, Ogunsanwo unveil $3m fund

Finance executive Adedayo Amzat, Labari Africa Productions MD Tunde Leye and filmmaker Femi Ogunsanwo have set up a US$3m Nollywood fund to support the development and production of Nigerian films.

Femi Ogunsanwo

The fund will also provide mentorship and on-set training opportunities for emerging talent and will support distribution and marketing efforts. The first investment that has come out of the fund is a movie titled The Lagos Job, which will be produced and directed by Ogunsanwo.

According to Leye, the fund will help provide the resources and support filmmakers need to bring their stories to life and showcase the talent and creativity of the Nigerian film industry to the world.

“We launched our $3m film fund to tell Nigerian stories for a global audience over the next few years,” Leye said on Instagram.

Ogunsanwo added: “Now the real work begins. Just wanted to let you know what we have been working on with Tunde Leye and Adedayo Amzat.”

This collaboration comes shortly after the executive trio partnered on Nollywood romantic comedy Finding Hubby (2020) and its sequel Finding Hubby 2 (2022). Ogunsanwo’s House Gabriel Studio and TLS Media Place produced the films, with Genesis Film Distribution handling sales.

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Telemundo Africa to air Colombian series

A new Colombian drama series is set to begin airing on NBCUniversal International Networks & Direct-To-Consumer’s Telemundo channel in Africa next week.

The Chosen Granddaughter

The Chosen Granddaughter will debut on Telemundo Africa on December 19, having originally premiered on Colombian broadcaster Canal RCN.

The 72-episode telenovela is “a classic story of suspense, hatred and love, where its characters will demonstrate that there are no limits to satisfying their thirst for revenge and ambition,” according to the producers.

The Chosen Granddaughter was penned by renowned scriptwriter Julio Jimenez and his colleague Iván Martínez, produced by Canal RCN – the channel behind global hit Ugly Betty – and directed by Rodrigo Lalinde and Consuelo González.

Its cast includes Consuelo Luzardo, Carlos Torres, Francisca Estévez, Kepa Amuchástegui, Margalida Castro, Ana María Arango, Juliette Pardau, Geraldine Zivic, Silvia De Dios, Patrick Delmas, Adriana Arango, Marcela Benjumea, Sebastián Osorio and Giancarlo Mendoza.

The series will be available on Telemundo Africa (DStv channel 118) in countries across the continent. It has also aired on channels in Ecuador, Israel and Panama and on Spanish-language OTT service Vix.

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Writer Olisakwe talks up Agoodjie

One of the three Nigerian writers working on the recently announced African drama Agoodjie from France’s Canal+ has commented on the project, which tells the true story of an army of female warriors in 19th century Africa.

Ukamaka Olisakwe

Content Nigeria recently reported that Ukamaka Olisakwe is one of three Nigerian scribes working on the 8×52’ drama, alongside Jude Idada and Adachioma Ezeano.

Created by Didier Lacoste (Guyane, L’Ecole du Pouvoir, Spin) and Joy Fleury (Tristesse et Beauté, La Fête des Pères), the series will focus on the Agoodjies of Dahomey, an elite corps of 4,000 female warriors who, in the late 1880s, took on the most powerful French army of the time in a bloody four-year war.

Taking to her Instagram page, Olisakwe told of the impact the writing job has had on her career. “So thrilled to finally share this amazing news with you. I am co-writing an epic series for StudioCanal and Canal+. It is a story of love, loss, revenge and justice,” she said.

“My eternal gratitude to the incredible and brilliant creators, Didier Lacoste and Joy Fleury, who read my body of work and made me a part of the family in 2020. You changed my life. And it’s an honour to be writing this with my sister Adachioma Ezeano and Jude Idada! I can’t wait for you all to see the magic.”

The drama weaves together the stories of a young female villager destined for great things and the once-wealthy kingdom of Dahomey, now part of Benin. The series will be filmed in English in locations across South Africa, Nigeria and Benin.

Nathalie Folloroux, senior VP of Canal+ Channels at Canal+ International, said the French company “was immediately conquered by the project held by Joy Fleury and Didier Lacoste, given its authentic rooting in Africa. The project reflects the banner’s investment in African production, and its dedication to promoting African culture, legends and heroes.”

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Showmax preps Kenyan Christmas feature

MultiChoice-owned streaming platform Showmax is set to debut what is being billed as the first Christmas film from Kenya.

Reuben Odanga

Airing on December 15, A Familiar Christmas follows a family as they reunite to spend a Christmas holiday together for the first time in three years. However, their plans are disrupted when secrets and a meddling mother wreak havoc in the household.

A Familiar Christmas is written by Natasha Likimani and directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Reuben Odanga.

The cast includes Pascal Tokodi, Maureen Kunga, Keith Chuaga, Alice Mbeyu, Dennis Musyoka and Uganda’s Ruth Kamanzi.

Odanga said: “I love Christmas because it’s usually a time to step back and let go of the pressure of the year. In Kenya, Christmas means going home for the majority of us, where we get to interact with our extended family. To be the director of Kenya’s first Christmas feature film means documenting our present culture to offer something that is relatable to the Kenyan audience. It’s daring and exciting at the same time.

“I have always felt that our content sometimes doesn’t take significant calendar events like Christmas into account. A Familiar Christmas captures the mood of the season from our perspective; it’s a step to bring our content and culture home.”

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Coaches revealed for The Voice Nigeria S4

The coaches and hosts for the fourth season of singing talent show The Voice Nigeria have been revealed.

The show will feature four stages of competition: the blind audition, the battle round, the new knockout round and live performances. This season’s coaches are award-winning songwriter and producer Praiz, songwriter Eniola Akinbo (aka Niyola), Aituaje Iruobe (aka Waje) and Nigerian rapper Naeto C.

Meanwhile, the hosts for this year’s show are actors Kate Henshaw and Zainab Balogun.

“Mark your calendars because we are about to take over your Christmas and we are hitting your screens with a bang this season, no cap. Experience all the great talents, entertainment and exceptional performances,” said the producers.

The show will debut on December 24 on Africa Magic Family, Showcase and Urban, Views channel, TVC, StarTimes Nollywood and Nollywood Plus.

The Voice Nigeria launched in 2016. The show is based on the format created by John de Mol (Big Brother) and distributed by ITV Studios.

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Acclaimed African films set for Showmax

Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl

A number of African films that have made ‘best films of all time’ lists, Oscar shortlists and have been nominated for the iEmmys will premiere on video-on-demand service Showmax this month.

Lakutshon’ Ilanga (aka When the Sun Sets) will debut on December 15. Inspired by real events, it tells the story of a young nurse in 1985 apartheid South Africa. She must face her worst fears when she learns that her activist younger brother may be in danger when he doesn’t return after school.

Written and directed by Phumi Morare, Lakutshon’ Ilanga won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Short (Live Action) this year and was shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.

Respect, a music biopic about US soul singer Aretha Franklin, will premiere on December 22. Directed by South Africa’s Liesl Tommy, it stars Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker, plus Emmy winner Audra McDonald.

Meanwhile, the third season of the Durban-set adaptation of hit US reality franchise The Real Housewives will be released on Showmax in early 2023. The Real Housewives franchise is licensed as a format by NBCUniversal Formats, a division of Universal Studio Group. The show offers viewers a glimpse into the glamorous lives of wealthy women living in the South African city.

Other movies already airing on Showmax include Ousmane Sembène’s 1966 film Black Girl and Bafta-winning animation The Snail & the Whale, directed by Max Lang and South Africa’s Daniel Snaddon. It was animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish and produced by Magic Light Pictures.

Also on the Showmax slate is M-Net crime series Reyka, which was recently renewed for a second season and won the International Emmy for Best Drama, while Africa & I is a 90-minute documentary that won Best First Feature Documentary at the 2022 Pan African Film and Arts Festival. It was directed by Othmane Zolati and co-directed by Chris Green.

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Showmax takes Crime & Justice to Lagos

Crime & Justice Lagos

African streamer Showmax is set premiere the new Lagos-set version of its Kenyan police procedural Crime & Justice on December 8.

Crime & Justice Lagos has been adapted from the hit Kenyan show that debuted in 2021.

The new series follows investigations by an elite team at the fictional Serious & Special Crimes Unit. It stars Nigerian radio host and presenter Folu Storms and Nollywood actor Jammal Ibrahim (The Delivery Boy), whose characters lead the fight against criminals in the city of Lagos.

Executive produced by Yinka Edward, it also stars Paul Adams, Femi Durojaiye, Margaret Osuome and Makinde Adeniran.

Crime & Justice was the first Showmax Original series produced in Kenya and is also Showmax’s first coproduction with France-based international broadcaster Canal+ Group.

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AfroLandTV adds nine new channels


Africa-themed North American AVoD streaming platform AfrolandTV has added nine new channels to its service following an agreement with Canada’s FAST Channels TV.

NBCUniversal-backed AfrolandTV said the partnership would bolster its offering and its mission to become the “Pluto TV of black entertainment,” referring to the successful Paramount-owned streamer.

The new channels are entertainment-focused Feva TV; African music channel 4AceTV Afrobeat; lifestyle, fashion and reality channel R2TV; gospel-inspired entertainment and lifestyle TV channel X2DTV; family-orientated channel Teen Africa;  Afrobeat-focused AMusic; contemporary Nollywood film and TV show channel Afrorevo 1; comedy skit channel A-Z Mark Angel Comedy; and factual offering

“With the holiday season upon us, there is no better way to celebrate than watching diverse authentic Black movies and TV. From music and dance to comedy and drama, there is something for everyone to enjoy,” said AfrolandTV in a statement.

“African movies are some of the most diverse and interesting stories in the world, whether told around a campfire or passed down generations through cinematic excellence. Global audiences are now more receptive to African movies.”

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Netflix to Ruin Christmas a third time

How to Ruin Christmas centres on two families

Netflix is set to debut the third season of South African comedy series How to Ruin Christmas next month.

The latest season of How to Ruin Christmas will debut on December 9. The franchise follows two families, the Sellos and Twalas, and the mayhem that ensues when the get together. It debuted in 2020 and was soon followed by another run in 2021, which centred on a funeral.

The new season will force the Sello and Twala families together once again, this time for a baby shower.

The series is produced by siblings Katleho and Rethabile Ramaphakela through their Johannesburg-based company Burnt Onion Productions. The cast includes Clementine Mosimane, Charmaine Mtinta, Rami Chuene and Trevor Gumbi.

“The Sellos and Twalas and chaotic Christmases? Same WhatsApp group! On the agenda this time? Throw the baby shower of the year, don’t reveal the agenda and keep the family together,” said Netflix.

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SABC, Hisense unveil streaming service

SABC+ will offer games from the imminent World Cup in Qatar

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has launched a streaming service in partnership with global consumer electronics company Hisense.

SABC+ will include free-to-air channels SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3, 19 radio stations, SABC Sports and the SABC’s 24-hour news channel.

In a bid to extend the public broadcaster’s mission to inform, educate and entertain, the app will feature a variety of local and international content, the company said.

The SABC will distribute the SABC+ app via Hisense VIDAA smart TVs and mobile devices in time for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which begins this weekend. More than 28 games from the tournament, including the final, will be available to watch for free.

SABC Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe said: “SABC+ signals a new digital era for the SABC and a key accomplishment in addressing universal access for all citizens. The SABC+ app also presents a growth path to enhancing our value offering to clients and customers to build a strong foundation for future financial sustainability of the SABC.

“The SABC is proud to partner with a technology company such as Hisense to enable us to fulfil our public mandate, while utilising innovation to provide cutting edge content to the public.”

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Showmax organises Perfect Funeral

My Perfect Funeral

African streaming service Showmax has ordered an original Ghanaian reality series focusing on funerals.

Titled My Perfect Funeral, the 10-parter will premiere on December 8 and will be available to Showmax subscribers in the UK and 32 other countries in the African diaspora.

The show follows five families in Ghana as they prepare to bury their loved ones. Each episode will show the different stages of the funeral and will also feature interviews and confessional sessions from key family members.

It will show everything from the planning process to the day of the burial and the aftermath. It will also expose the elaborateness of Ghanaian funerals while exploring unique traditions and fanfare.

In addition, Benjamin Aidoo, Ghana’s most prominent pallbearer, will share his perspective on what a proper Ghanaian funeral entails and will be seen alongside his team of pallbearers.

Deloris Frimpong Manso, executive producer of the series, said: “Even though funerals are a sad and morbid experience, African families – and Ghanaians in particular – go the extra mile to make sure this occasion is done perfectly and, in some cases, flamboyantly and without any holding back. It’s a story that hasn’t been told before on our screens. But then again someone has to tell this story.

“It’s also a way for families to create lasting, tangible moments with their dearly departed. I personally buried both my parents and I don’t have a single picture from their funerals. This production is going to be a place of record-keeping for the five families.”

My Perfect Funeral is the second Ghanaian Showmax original after drama series ENO, which became the most watched show on Showmax in Ghana during its 13-week run.

Busola Tejumola, executive head of content and West Africa channels at MultiChoice, said: “My Perfect Funeral is a reality show like no other. The show forms part of Showmax’s strategy to invest in more authentic and diverse local stories that generate emotions and experiences in our audiences across Africa.

“And after launching ENO earlier this year, we are excited once again to be collaborating with Ghanaian filmmakers to bring this unique concept of My Perfect Funeral to our subscribers in Ghana and across the continent who will identify personally with the stories of the five families featured on the show.”

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Buka Street, Ijakumo set for cinemas

Two new Nollywood movies are set for theatrical release next month: Battle on Buka Street and Ijakumo.

Toyin Abraham in Ijakumo

Battle on Buka Street is described as a hilarious and captivating movie that features a mix of funny and entertaining actors, including Sola Sobowale as Asake, Tina Mba as Ezinne, Nkem Owoh as Maduka, Mercy Johnson as Awele, Femi Jacobs as Lanshinle and Bimbo Ademoye as Young Asake.

Premiering on December 16, the movie is directed by Funke Akindele and Tobi Makinde and produced by Funke Ayotunde Akindele Network and FilmOne Entertainment.

“Buka Street is not a place for the weak. It is the struggle for amala, the sweat of the gbegiri, the slap from the pepper stew and the war of the pots. December is going to be fun. Are you ready?” said the producers.

Meanwhile, Ijakumo (meaning ‘the born-again stripper’) follows a disgraced woman called Ashabi who is on a revenge mission to destroy the life of her former lover.

Ijakumo, which debuts on December 23, is produced by Toyin Abraham, who stars alongside. Kunle Remi, Lilian Afegbai, Olumide Oworu and others.

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MultiChoice brings Moonbug Kids to Africa

Moonbug Kids airs in English

Children’s channel named Moonbug Kids has been made available in Africa via a deal with Pay TV company MultiChoice.

The education and entertainment channel features inspiring stories that expand kids’ worlds and minds, while promoting healthy values such as compassion, empathy and resilience to kids around the world, according to Moonbug.

The channel airs in English and is available to DStv customers across 45 African countries. Its shows include CoComelon, Blippi, Arpo, Supa Strikers and Little Baby Bum.

Nicolas Eglau, Moonbug EMEA and APAC MD said: “This is an incredibly significant deal for us and part of our wider strategy to roll out Moonbug Kids channels on pay TV platforms across EMEA and APAC.

“Launching a premium, advertising-free, linear channel with DStv is one key advantage of our digital-first approach. It enables us to structure the channel by applying our in-depth knowledge of children’s viewing, including when and how they engage with content.”

Georginah Machiridza, executive head of content strategy and third-party channels at MultiChoice Group added: “Digital-first content is entering traditional channels and dominating these. The quality and appeal of these shows has vastly improved over the past few years. Platforms like ours recognise these shows’ benefits in retaining viewership.”

Moonbug Kids can be found on DStv channel 314.

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