A line-up of original productions from Nigerian pay TV broadcaster EbonyLife TV will be rolled out on global streaming platform Netflix this month.
They include The Governor, a drama series about the deputy governor of Savannah State who finds herself suddenly entangled in a web of political intrigue. It stars Samuel Abiola Robinson, Caroline Chikezie and Bimbo Manuel.
Dere: An African Fairytale, meanwhile, is an adaptation of classic Brothers Grimm story Cinderella. It stars Gbenro Ajibade, Weruche Opia, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, Carol King, Emmanuel Ikubese and Shaffy Bello.
The third EbonyLife production heading to Netflix is Ojo’s in D’House, a sitcom set around the shenanigans of a middle-class Lagos family.
The shows will debut on Netflix on August 8, 15 and 22 respectively.
The partnership with Netflix comes after EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu announced on social media last month that the company would be ditching its linear channels on pay platform DStv in favour of on-demand services including its own app EbonyLife ON.
EbonyLife TV, the fast-growing African broadcast entertainment network founded by Mo Abudu, will no longer air on pay platform DStv from the end of this month.
Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, took to her Instagram page to make the announcement, saying: “Remember when we used to wait a whole week to watch our favourite TV shows? Well, those days are gone forever! Now we can binge on the whole series if we want to. Therefore, we have decided that EbonyLife TV will no longer be available on DStv from 31st July 2020.
“Create your own viewing schedule and watch your favourite EbonyLife shows with our app, EbonyLife ON, available from Play Store or App Store for access to our library of over 5000 hours of series, lifestyle and entertainment.”
The channel was still available on Star Times at the time of writing and no announcement has been made about dropping carriage on that Chinese-owned pay TV platform.
EbonyLife TV’s move to drop its linear channels on a third-party platform in favour of the company’s own direct-to-consumer on-demand service mirrors a similar move by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC).
The US-based media giant recently announced plans to close Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior in the UK, with all content being made exclusively available on recently launched SVoD service Disney+ instead.
Entertainment and lifestyle network EbonyLife TV is preparing a show that will challenge businesses to create a product or service that improves lives amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being sought to present their ideas in the Covid Innovation Challenge show.
The winning SME will be selected by a public vote and will receive the services of professional consultants to generate a business plan, an introduction to financiers and a cash prize of N1m from EbonyLife TV.
Any small business owner who has a relevant idea can apply by clicking here.
The shortlist of SMEs will be announced on May 29. Voting will take place from June 1 to 19, before the winner is revealed on June 29.
The start date for the show has yet to be announced.
Netflix has added a Nollywood political drama series and a comedy movie, both of which will be available on the global streaming platform from next week.
Set in Northern Nigeria, drama series Sons of the Caliphate was created, written and produced by Dimbo and Karachi Atiya. It tells the story of three rich young men who struggle for power while dealing with family loyalty, love and revenge. Nollywood actors including Rahama Sadau, Paul Sambo and Yakubu Mohammed are among the cast.
The comedy movie is 2018’s Kasala (Nigerian pidgin for ‘trouble’), which focuses on a day in the life of four young men who borrow a car without the owner’s permission. It features Nollywood actors such as Jide Kosoko, Mike Afolarin and Chimezie Imo.
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.”
Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, is set to receive the 2019 Médailles d’Honneur award at the MipTV conference and market.
Reed Midem, organiser of the event, said the award ceremony will take place on April 8 at the InterContinental Carlton Hotel, Cannes, France.
The award is given to senior executives who have contributed to the development of the international TV community and to the world of TV. Abudu, who is a member of the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences board, is one of the most prolific producers in Africa.
She launched EbonyLife TV in 2013 and has since produced a number of movies, including Fifty in 2015, The Wedding Party 2 in 2017 and Chief Daddy in 2018.
Abudu said: “I am thankful and overjoyed at the news of being one of the four recipients of the 2019 Médailles d’Honneur at MipTV. I am so excited and most grateful for this recognition of our work and, more than anything, that our stories are now making a difference across the globe.”
Abudu will be receiving her Médailles d’Honneur award in Cannes alongside three other 2019 recipients: US writer/showrunner Ilene Chaiken; Banijay Group chairman Stéphane Courbit; and Sky Vision MD Jane Millichip.
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.
Legal drama series Castle & Castle will air exclusively on EbonyLife’s VoD service EbonyLife ON from July 1.
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.
Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu has called on African creatives to tell local stories with global appeal.
The EbonyLife TV founder made the comments in an interview with British broadcaster the BBC in Lagos.
“Africa has remained creatively silent forever, so there’s such an abundant treasure trove of stories that we have to share with the world. Our stories need to be heard globally,” Abudu said.
“Our content is fascinating for anyone to watch; we have a huge amount of history to share.”
Although Nollywood has been in existence for 20 years, Abudu said the next step for the African screen industry was for its stories to have global presence.
She added that this had been her motivation in producing movies, which include top-grossing titles such as Fifty and Chief Daddy.
“I want EbonyLife Film to be the provider of the niche market [of viewers who] want African stories that speak to them. EbonyLife Film has a brand and an audience waiting,” Abudu continued.
She also offered tips on good filmmaking practice, including finding relatable stories and working with great talent, as well as striving for high production values and good sound grading, marketing and post production.
EbonyLife is working hard to invest money and resources in content development, Abudu added.
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 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.”
Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigerian broadcaster EbonyLife TV, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminister in London.
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.
Mo Abudu, the founder and CEO of African network EbonyLife TV, has launched a mentorship scheme to coincide with her 54th birthday.
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.
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.
Lagos-based African TV channel EbonyLife TV is set to launch its VoD service across the continent next month.
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.”
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.
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.”
A new Nigerian-set TV series funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun airing.
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.
“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness. Never, ever take no for an answer; keep pushing until you get results.” Mo Abudu.
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.
Award-winning Nigerian TV presenter Stephanie Coker is set to launch a presenting course next month.
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.
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.