African music channel operator Trace has signed a deal with Paris-based channel distributor Thema to merge their two gospel-themed TV channels into one.
Trace Gospel will combine with Thema’s Gospel Music TV under the brand Trace Gospel, bringing together two catalogues and both companies’ expertise, operated by Trace.
The merger will see Trace Gospel promoting African gospel musicians by airing more genres of gospel music. The channel will also feature weekly playlists and gospel music events.
Trace Gospel is available on Canal+ packages in Africa as well as TNT EasyTV on channel 38.
Trace is owned by venture capital firm TPG Growth, which bought the company from Modern Times Group (MTG) earlier this year, while Thema is part of Canal+ International.
Speaking about the move, Trace CEO Olivier Laouchez said: “This partnership with Thema and Canal+ International was decided in order to offer a channel that brings even more satisfaction to gospel music fans.
“It’s a great pride and responsibility for Trace. We will bring to this channel all the means and all the expertise of the group in order to place it on the top of spiritual musical channels.”
Thema CEO Fabrice Faux added: “Thema is proud to have developed Gospel Music TV to become the reference channel for this music dear to all Africans, on the continent and in France.
“I have no doubt that Trace, whose expertise in the musical field is unanimously recognised and which is a long-standing partner of Thema, will be able to take this channel even further and, thanks to this merger, double subscriber satisfaction.”
According to the companies, Trace Gospel is “the link between all cultures” and will broadcast “gospel artists from Africa, the Caribbean, the US, Europe and Latin America.”
Artists featured on the combined network will include Nathaniel Bassey, Mike Abdul, Jimmy Gait, Dena Mwana, Jermaine Edouards, J Prince, Hezekiah L. Walker, Kirk Franklin, Erica Campbell, Travis Greene, Tasha Cobbs, Olivier Cheuwa, Maggie Blanchard and Gabriela Rocha.”
With more than 200 million viewers across 160 countries, Trace is currently one of Africa’s leading music broadcasters. MTG’s sale of its 75% stake to TPG in January valued the company at €40m (US$46.7m).
Thema launched its first African TV channels package on the French market in 2008. Today, the company’s African package includes 24 channels. Thema is also creator of TV channels such as Novelas TV, Nollywood TV and Nollywood Epic.