The first panel session at the Nigeria International Television (NITV) Summit focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the country’s pay TV industry.
Addressing the issue of sustainability and growth in the pay TV business in Nigeria, panelists discussed the challenges and ways in which these can be overcome.
Panelists included Funmi Adenaike, general manager of Play TV; Emeka Mba, former NBC director general and now CEO of Questechmedia Consulting; Bamidele Adetunji, CEO at Montage Media Group; and Zachary Wazara, CEO of Kwese TV. The session was moderated by Lindsey Oliver, CEO of Yanga TV.
The conversation kicked off with an evaluation of the industry as a whole and how it has evolved so far. Panelists agreed that rapid development of technology poses a challenge for pay TV platforms.
“The internet is changing consumer behaviour and business models,” said Wazara.
Meanwhile, despite agreeing that other industries are threatening the growth of the TV industry, Adetunji stated that the challenge to sustainability is a lack of proper recording technology and archiving.
“There was time I wanted to produce an epic Nigerian movie but was told it was unavailable because a recording had been done over the master recording, which basically means it no longer exists.
“And this leads me to ask, who has the rights to TV series like [classic Nigerian drama] Village Headmaster? Where are our formats? Where are our records? There are no local formats, yet international formats still exist,” said Adetunji.
Addressing the issue of telcos encroaching on the TV industry, Mba stated: “There are no level playing fields in an industry that is hugely dependent on technology and data to operate.”
Buttressing his point, Adenaike added: “There are enormous challenges in the industry and some pay TV companies are forced to deliver certain kinds of content because they are working with what is available, which is not much.”
Speaking about the way forward, Adetunji suggested that Nigeria should establish a commercial satellite platform so local pay TV channels don’t have to form partnerships with international satellites and pay “astronomical” amounts to air content. This is especially true when consumers do not understand a pay TV channel’s need for high prices because all they want is content at a low cost.
Content Nigeria hears from Lindsey Oliver, CEO of Africa MediaWorks (AMW), creator of the Yanga TV channel and former director of TVC, on the first day of the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS).
In this exclusive interview, Oliver discusses her take on the content market in Nigeria, her current projects and her experiences at the ongoing CNS.
Tell us about your experience in the African television landscape.
I previously worked at TVC but, even before that, when I was at Bloomberg, Al Jazeera and CNBC, I came to Africa quite a lot – certainly more than most people in the industry were coming to Africa. I’ve been to Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi and North Africa.
I got an opportunity to come to Nigeria to advise TVC on best practice and help out with their commercial department to create more advertising revenue in 2016 for a year.
How was that for you? Did you leave fulfilled?
I did, I loved it. For the last four months, I was asked to be the interim CEO. That was incredibly interesting because I was able to have a look at the company and see how everything was working. It was a wonderful job and I was very lucky to have it.
I got back to the UK with the aim of having something more than just kissing goodbye to Nigeria, and that’s why we set up AMW and the Yanga TV channel. Yanga TV is for African diaspora but particularly for Nigerian and West African diaspora.
Do you think Nigerians living in Nigeria can relate to the content as well?
I hope so. We are buying content from Nigeria to show on the channel and then creating our own content. We have a lovely studio in West London and I’m making content that I will bring down to Nigeria.
There is definitely a crossover. When I speak to people in the UK who are either Nigerian or of Nigerian heritage, they’ve got a connection and are very interested in hearing about the Nigerian content that is seeping back to the UK. We are showing a lot of contemporary Nollywood movies as well.
How did the name Yanga come about?
I didn’t want something that was from any one Nigerian language because then that suggests it’s for only one tribe, and we weren’t seeking that. I said I’d like something in pidgin that could also appeal to outside countries.
I had a list of pidgin words but I chose Yanga because it’s ‘show-off.’ Someone said ‘yanga’ was a bit rude, but I wanted it because it grabs your attention and because this is a community that has something to shout about.
How are the ratings for Yanga going?
Really well. It’s always a challenge for any African channel with the ratings system in the UK. They are horribly under-represented on the system but, regarding other methods of ratings, we are performing much better. We are doing well compared to other African channels.
However, I feel that the African channels as a group aren’t really punching their weight, and I’m sure it’s not because people are not watching. It’s because the panel is very small and there aren’t many Africans on it.
What steps would you take for Yanga TV to be better represented?
We are looking at other ratings systems, especially those showing we rate much better. We are also making sure of our marketing and promotion of the Yanga website. We buy content in Nigeria but can’t show all of it here because it would be really expensive to buy a satellite signal here. So what we’ve done is to make nine or 10 series – from comedies to cartoons for children – available on the Yanga website so they can be accessed in Nigeria.
What other initiatives is AMW working on?
AMW is a brand that celebrates and promotes West African diaspora in the UK. I hope it will go further than that but right now we’re pretty young; our TV channel has been on air for only four months, though we were building things and making programmes long before that. AMW also has a fine-art photography prize, where we invite professional fine artists to submit their works to be showcased in a gallery in London.
Is there a plan to turn that into video content?
Yes, we will show that story and the prize for the winner is us commissioning a piece of work. If we can continue this year-on-year, we can acquire a lot of contemporary African photographic art. This initiative is quite different from Yanga, which is about celebrating everybody and not just professionals.
Are there any other shows from AMW?
At AMW, we tend to do factual and serial programming. We have Journalists’ Hangout, which we kind of borrowed from TVC News. There we get people talking about daily issues in Africa and the Africa diaspora. It’s currently airing on Friday nights on TVC News.
What have you learned here at CNS 2018?
Jeff Kalligheri, CEO at Waterstone Entertainment, is always interesting to listen to and, being from a Hollywood background, it’s great to hear what he would want from a producer. I know what I would like as a small channel ,but Jeff represents Hollywood and you have FremantleMedia and Sony Pictures TV represented as well, so they are all big boys and it’s interesting to hear what they have to say.
They mentioned why big companies get nervous buying into big ideas – because it may come back to hurt them years later if somebody decides to sue them if they had a similar idea. So all sharing of ideas must be well documented and perhaps trademarked or copyrighted so producers can’t claim that a company’s project was based on their idea.
Talking about sharing, is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I would love to push people to view Yanga. We will be giving out content on other platforms. The Yanga channel will launch on a TV platform here in Nigeria sometime in the future. I would love to see how Nigerians react to the content made by the Nigerian diaspora; it’s important that we build a bridge that goes both ways. Yanga is also on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. We are everywhere, really, so even though you can’t switch on linear TV to access Yanga, you can check us out digitally.
In conclusion, what do you think about the CNS this week?
I recently spoke about the need to have a market in Nigeria, for young producers here, so they don’t have to always go to the south of France or LA or to Johannesburg for those other big markets. Then I realised there is a market happening right here during the coffee breaks, which is brilliant. There’s great potential here and there’s no reason the Creative Nigeria Summit can’t grow into that.
UK firm Africa MediaWorks has launched an entertainment channel aimed at the African diaspora on Sky’s pay TV platform in the UK.
Yanga! is run by Africa MediaWorks CEO Lindsey Oliver, the former director of networks at CNBC Europe and founding director of Al Jazeera International. Its programming director is Simon London.
It offers a mix of original commissions and acquired content across a range of genres, from lifestyle, comedy, music and drama to kids, current affairs and news. The network is the first commercial venture from Africa MediaWorks.
Originals on the slate include late-night show Turn Up, stand-up comedy programme Number 6, magazine talkshow Noni and current affairs-based Journalists’ Hangout UK. Children’s segment Fizzi also features, while acquired programmes include Before 30, Crazy, Lovely, Cool and Wives on Strike.
“Yanga! will nurture new talent both in front and behind the camera, which is an important part of the ambition of Africa MediaWorks to strengthen and scale the volume and quality of African content,” said Africa MediaWorks MD Lindsey Oliver.
Content Nigeria reported on the launch plans in October last year, when Yanga! presenter Mansour Bellow was at trade fair Mipcom in France shooting for the channel. Yanga!, which is Nigerian slang for being confident, will aim to give UK viewers with Nigerian heritage a “closer understanding of their culture,” Bellow added.
The channel will broadcast 15 hours a day from 09.00 to 00.00. It has been in testing stage for the past six months but officially launches on Sky today. Content will also be available on the Yanga! UK YouTube channel and website.
Yanga! TV, the UK-based satellite channel aimed at the African diaspora, is launching a teleshopping segment in its schedule called Yanga! Shop.
Yanga! Shop is a platform that offers African small-business owners in the UK an outlet to reach consumers by displaying products from the African diaspora.
These will range from gifts and beauty products to toys, gadgets and Christmas items, including hair straighteners, wigs, Afrocentric mugs, handmade African cards and other items made specially for the African community.
The service will be presented by former children’s TV presenter and teleshopping regular Julian Ballantyne. He appeared on shopping network QVC for 20 years, as well as presenting kids’ programme Motormouth on ITV and the channel’s long-running travel show Wish You Were Here.
“Yanga! Shop will offer an unparalleled teleshopping outlet for African small-business owners to sell their products directly to diaspora consumers in the UK and Ireland,” said Lindsey Oliver, CEO at Africa Media Works-owned Yanga! TV.
“Africa Media Works is proud to launch this exciting and innovative way for our viewers to shop, continuing our support of African content, photography and enterprise with this showcase of African small businesses in the UK.”
The teleshopping service began broadcasting yesterday and will air from 6.00 to 9.00 on weekdays and from 8.00 to 10.00 at weekends. The Yanga! TV network airs on Sky channel 453 and Freesat channel 171.
Yanga! is a commercial entertainment channel from Africa Media Works that reflects the lives, issues and infectious energy of the African diaspora. Former Al Jazeera and Bloomberg exec Oliver launched the service in March this year.
Yanga! TV has acquired network premier rights within the UK and Ireland to air Akin Omotoso’s award-winning films Man on Ground and Tell Me Sweet Something in November.
Nigerian director Omotoso hails from Ibadan and has acted in several movies, including Blood Diamond and Shake Hands With the Devil.
He has also directed several short films and his first feature was God is African in 2003. He has directed series like Jacob’s Cross and Fifty, which now airs on Africa Magic and M-Net. He also helmed Jesus & the Giant, A Hotel Called Memory and Vaya.
Yanga! CEO Lindsey Oliver said: “We could not be prouder to broadcast acclaimed director Akin Omotoso’s work on Yanga! TV, further cementing our goal to be the best broadcaster of African content to the diaspora, bringing brilliant and vibrant auteur voices from Africa directly to viewers in the UK and Ireland.”
Tell Me Something Sweet is a story centering on a Johannesburg woman who falls in love with a male model, setting off a complicated love rollercoaster. Funded by the African Women’s Development Fund, this film has won two awards at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCAs).
Man On Ground, meanwhile, is a crime drama about a young Nigerian refugee in Johannesburg who goes missing amidst rioting by immigrants. It premiered in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival and won two AMVCAs.
Yanga! will air the films in the UK in November and is available on Sky channel 453 and Freesat channel 171.
Yanga!, the UK channel that targets African diaspora, has been at the MipTV market in Cannes this week on the hunt for high-end drama and reality content.
The channel, which launched four weeks ago, is run by Africa MediaWorks MD Lindsey Oliver, the former director of networks at CNBC Europe and founding director of Al Jazeera International, who said “top quality, contemporary West African drama” was top of her content agenda.
“We’re also interested in some fun reality programmes if we can find the right ones. We have a few in mind we’re looking at from Nigeria but we’re interested in Ghanaian programming and really anything from Africa that’s English-speaking,” Oliver said.
Yanga! is currently available on Sky and Freesat in the UK and Oliver said any content the channel does pick up this week probably needs to be on an exclusive basis to make it destination viewing for its audience.
“We’re only four weeks in but, as we go, we’re already adapting the programming line-up we’ve got. We’re finding that some shows inevitably work better than others so we’re on the hunt for some new, compelling content to launch in the autumn,” she added.
“Our demographic is keen on celebrity and high fashion. We want things that are fun, dynamic and have lots of energy.”
Yanga! has also been shopping its own programming slate this week, which includes a range of factual shows. “We’re making lots of different series,” said Oliver. “We have a comedy series called Number 6, a children’s series called Fizzi and a young people’s Afro beats music chatshow called Turn Up.”
While commissioning content is not yet in Yanga!’s plans, Oliver said it would be an option in the future.