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.”
“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.
Africa’s largest pay TV operator MultiChoice has called for regulations to be imposed on Netflix as it blames the US-based streaming service for the subscriber losses it has suffered since 2017.
As a result of Netflix’s popularity among African viewers, pay TV companies MultiChoice and StarTimes are experiencing serious challenges to their business models and revenue streams.
In a recent report by Quartz Africa, Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, said his company had lost over 140,000 subscribers to Netflix, including 100,000 in the past financial year. The streaming service, he said, is also free from any affirmative action regulations, which gives the US firm a major advantage.
Even though pay TV companies are already competing with local streaming platforms like Iroko, Netflix’s plan to focus more on Nollywood and African content is set to create another area of competition for these companies in 2019.
Netflix’s VP of international originals Erik Barmack told C21Media’s Content London conference in November that the streamer’s European team is “in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It’s definitely the case that we’ll commission some series there in 2019.”
In an article by Business Insider magazine, Netflix said: “The company is following Nollywood closely and focusing more on content. There are no plans to have a physical office in Nigeria. We are following the local industry closely and focusing more on content rather than physical presence.”
While pay TV companies work on having better streaming services and pricey data plans, Netflix has deployed a dedicated server in Nigeria in partnership with Spectranet in order to have a secure connection for its Nigerian audiences and also provide customers in Nigeria with a better video-streaming performance.
Despite the fact Nigerian movies such as Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, Kunle Afolayan’s October 1st and Biyi Bandele’s Fifty are available on Netflix, thus creating competition in the Nigerian market, all hope is not lost for MultiChoice. The South African company still has three of its indigenous African Magic stations on DSTV, namely Africa Magic Yoruba, Africa Magic Hausa and Africa Magic Igbo.
Although the competition would impact viewers across Nigeria, perhaps leading to possible lower subscription fees for streaming and TV content packages, it will now be a fight between four major contenders: MultiChoice, StarTimes, Iroko and Netflix.