Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media has sealed an exclusive first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT)’s international production division.
Under the two-year deal, SPT gets an exclusive first look on all new EbonyLife Media scripted television projects.
Founded by Nigerian producer and media mogul Mo Abudu, EbonyLife Media has produced shows including Chief Daddy, The Wedding Party and Fifty.
Last year, the company signed a slate deal with Netflix and produced its first original for the global streamer, human-trafficking drama Òlòturé.
The new deal is the second between EbonyLife and SPT, following the announcement of a three-project co-development and production pact in 2018. The first project announced as part of that agreement is a series inspired by the story of the Dahomey Amazons.
Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media, said: “Taking African storytelling to global audiences is something we are very passionate about, and this new opportunity with Sony gives us a chance to reach massive audiences worldwide with our scripted TV series.”
Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Media is developing a second season of its legal drama Castle & Castle.
The first run, which was picked up by global streamer Netflix in February, was directed by Tope Oshin, Niyi Akinmolayan and Kenneth Gyang and followed a happy couple, Remi (Dakore Egbuson-Akande) and Tega (Richard Mofe-Damijo), who ran a successful legal firm in Lagos.
Abudu, EbonyLife Media’s CEO, took to Instagram to make the announcement saying: “Super-excited about this month of July. Such great news to share with you all. Guess what guys – Castle & Castle, Nigeria’s first legal procedural series did so well it’s getting a season two and it’s exclusive to Netflix. We are in development. It will be coming to you in 2021.”
The series cast includes Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Etim Effiong, Dorcas Shola Fapson and media personality Denola Grey.
The show is one of EbonyLife’s Afropolitan projects that reflect African issues and contemporary African life.
Mo Abudu’s entertainment channel Ebonylife TV is developing ‘Afro-futuristic’ crime drama Nigeria 2099 for AMC Networks Entertainment Group.
The show will be executive produced by EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu and EbonyLife TV’s head of programming Heidi Uys, while Ahmadu Garbu (Happy, Sinner) will write the series.
Set in a futuristic Nigeria, the drama is about a police officer in Lagos who is assigned to protect an American businessman and unravels a global conspiracy.
Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group, said: “We’re looking for highly original visions and voices as we think about how AMC Networks evolves. The projects in development, both on the entertainment group side and at AMC Studios, all embrace people with singular and surprising points of view.”
EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu has been revealed as a juror for this year’s Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
Established in 1976 by the luxury watch company, the Rolex Awards recognise “exceptional individuals who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges; men and women who have a spirit of enterprise, initiating extraordinary projects that make the world a better place.”
Influential Nigerian media mogul Abudu, who launched EbonyLife in 2006, was one of 10 jurors chosen for their expertise and stature in a wide variety of fields. The jurors have selected 10 finalists for the awards, with the winners set to be revealed next month.
Announcing her involvement via Instagram, Abudu said: “Earlier this year in February, I was invited to join the Jury of the Rolex Awards. I had the privilege of meeting and spending a few days in London with executives from Rolex, my co jury members and we had the opportunity to evaluate the most incredible and diverse set of projects that were presented to us.
“As a 2019 Rolex Awards jury member we had a challenging time selecting the 10 finalists. We are off to Washington DC in June to judge the finals.”
MIPCOM: African channel EbonyLife Media is at the Mipcom market here in Cannes looking to work with international partners on a range of drama projects it is billing as ‘Afro-genres’.
EbonyLife has spent the past few years teaming up with international partners to develop and evolve its original African content. In 2014, the company partnered with Disney to produce Desperate Housewives Africa, which was based on the US drama and became a major hit across Africa.
Since then, EbonyLife has produced more than 5,000 hours of entertainment and reality programmes through EbonyLife Studios. Furthermore, its Nigerian movie franchise The Wedding Party has emerged as a major favourite.
In March 2018, the company struck a three-project deal with Sony Pictures Television to produce dramas including The Dahomey Warriors. EbonyLife also acquired a licence to produce gameshow The Dating Game Nigeria.
The company is now at Mipcom looking to continue this strategy of teaming with international partners. In addition, EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu will give a keynote address on the significance of EbonyLife’s Afro genres at Content London, which takes place in the UK capital from November 27 to 30 this year.
EbonyLife is in discussions with international partners over various coproduction projects, and is offering producers and distributors distinct content formats, scripts and concepts in the form of series, movies and shows that are ready to be developed.
To meet the demands of audiences, the EbonyLife research team has been developing content in four major areas under the overall ‘Afro-genre’ label.
Afro-history deals with stories related to myths and legends from the African continent such as The Dahomey Warriors, a series about a young girl who faces adversity when she joins the renowned female warriors who guard the king in the 18th century West African kingdom of Dahomey.
Afro-futurism explores a futuristic Africa using science-fiction and adventures to tell stories. One of such project is Nigeria 2099.
Afropolitan refers to series that reflect African issues, contemporary African life and African drama generally. Legal drama Castle & Castle is one example.
Afro-impact encompasses drama related to current events that reflect societal issues such as the war against modern slavery and terrorism. Human-trafficking film Oloture comes under this label.
EbonyLife Media said it was able to convert African stories into a language understood globally. Its partnership with international studios is aimed at brining these concepts to life.
A number of Nigerian companies will attend the Mipcom international TV programme market in Cannes, France next month.
The annual event takes place between October 15 and 18 and this year’s theme is The Big Shift: Transitioning to a Reshaped Media Landscape.
The title reflects the growing demand for premium content in all facets of the media industry.
Nigerian companies at the event will include Ascend Studios, Ayanwale Kehinde Enterprises, Chinto Technologies, EbonyLife Media, Gospell Digital Technology and Salt & Truth. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was meant to exhibit at the event but for reasons unknown will not be present, a spokeswoman told Content Nigeria.
Attending the world’s biggest entertainment content market will be industry leaders, producers, commissioners, distributors, media personnel, independent production companies, digital studios and brands and almost 2,000 exhibiting companies from around the world.
John Adewusi, MD of Lagos prodco Salt & Truth, said: “Mipcom is the ultimate content market for a producer, with many opportunities to collaborate and keep up with all that’s happening in the global content and production space. I will be there to gain knowledge, opportunity and, most of all, build relationships.”
Companies attending as commissioners will have access to top-level conferences, networking and keynotes events as well as the Mipcom world premiere screenings that will feature fresh content reaching the market.
Mipcom 2018 allows exhibitors to showcase their latest content. Adewusi said: “We will be there with our slate of content: a new format, a seven-part docuseries, a comedy series and a drama. These projects are in various stages, some in development, some completed and in need of distribution. We are there to present our stories to the world.”
Several conferences will be held where relevant issues like content creation, financing evolution, consumer trends, positivity of diversity and inclusion in the world TV landscape, content delivery and shaping the future of TV and entertainment will be discussed.
“Mipcom bridges the gap between the various levels of production. For Nigeria, it gives us local producers and creators a seat at the grand table, an opportunity to tell our stories and, with the right backing, assist us in amplifying these stories to the world,” said Adewusi.
Reporters for Content Nigeria and parent company C21 Media will be at the event, as well as the preceding MipJunior event on October 13 and 14.
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Premium lifestyle and entertainment channel EbonyLife TV has rebranded after marking its fifth anniversary this month.
Parent company EbonyLife Media unveiled a new logo and disclosed plans to launch the channel on pay TV platform StarTimes, ending the exclusivity of its carriage deal with DSTV, on August 1.
Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, said: “This is an exciting time for us. StarTimes is a force to be reckoned with in Africa. It is a privilege for EbonyLife to have an additional home with the network.
“Together with the global reach of [VoD service] EbonyLife ON, we will have the potential for millions more people to enjoy our shows.”
“As one of Nigeria’s leading television networks, it made sense to include it in the StarTimes family,” said Justin Zhang, MD of StarTimes.
However, reports suggest EbonyLife may have decided to expand its reach in Africa at this time because DSTV is set to stop airing the channel to subscribers in southern Africa this month. EbonyLife is yet to comment on the reports.
Meanwhile, it continues to expand not just via TV but also by its VoD service, EbonyLife ON, which was previously available only to international audiences.
The video streaming service is now accessible to Nigerians for a monthly subscription of N500. The EbonyLife ON app can be downloaded on Android and IOS app stores.
EbonyLife TV launched on July 1, 2013 and is now broadcast across Africa and the Caribbean on StarTimes (channel 107, 191), DSTV (channel 165) and Flow.