Tag Archives: MultiChoice

The Real Housewives arrive in Cape Town

The Real Housewives of Cape Town

NBCUniversal format The Real Housewives is set to launch its fourth local African adaptation, The Real Housewives of Cape Town, on the Mzansi Magic channel next month.

The news comes after the successful debuts of previous iterations The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, The Real Housewives of Durban and The Real Housewives of Lagos on the MultiChoice-owned network.

The Real Housewives of Cape Town, which will debut on July 10 at 19.00, features a group of powerful and affluent women who are beloved, enigmatic and often misunderstood.

They represent diverse social backgrounds and are an eccentric mix of new and old money, connected by one common thread: their desire to run the Mother City.

The shows features Beverley Steyn, a property owner and investor with a love of planes, yachts, fast cars and a luxury lifestyle; Rushda Moosajee, a qualified trainer and mother of three with a fitness empire and an impressive social media presence; Loveline Abinokhauno, a proud wife of 14 years, blogger, momfluencer and entrepreneur; and Thato Montse, a wine connoisseur.

Other participants are Camilla McDowell, also known as the Queen of Constantia; Kutazwa ‘Rooksy’ Gqirana, a proud Capetonian and self-described hustler; and Lulwando ‘Lue’ Tukwayo, a free-spirited property entrepreneur, digital creator, chartered accountant and mother of three.

Ana Langenberg, senior VP of format sales and production at NBCUniversal Formats, said: “We are elated to continue to build on the monumental success of The Real Housewives franchise in Africa with this latest instalment. The spirit of Cape Town and the unique energy this series will bring will deliver an addictive and unmissable experience and we can’t wait for audiences around the world to experience it.”

“We look forward to premiering this exciting new addition on Mzansi Magic, which will no doubt keep our audience hooked and will undoubtedly be of the premium quality our viewers have grown accustomed to,” added Shirley Adonisi, director of local entertainment channels at MultiChoice’s M-Net.

“This may be a global franchise, but our spin on it is very much South African. The story lines explored on the show and the cast’s lives are as authentic as they come. As a channel, keeping up with our viewers’ tastes and preferences is important, and this is evidence of that.”

Produced by Trace Studios, The Real Housewives of Cape Town marks the 17th international version of the franchise, the fourth to be adapted in Africa and the third South African instalment.

The Real Housewives format began life in the US on NBCUniversal-owned cable channel Bravo in 2006 as The Real Housewives of Orange County. The format is shopped internationally by NBCUniversal Formats, a division of Universal Studio Group.

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MTN, DStv in Brand Africa’s top 100 list

Thebe Ikalafeng

Telecoms company MTN Group and pay TV operator DStv have won places in marketing body Brand Africa’s list of the top 100 most admired brands on the continent.

The list for 2022, which looked at Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as a whole, was compiled by Johannesburg-based company Brand Africa and was revealed at a ceremony held in Lagos, Nigeria.

MTN ranked as the most admired African brand, while MultiChoice-owned DStv was named top media name, followed by the BBC and CNN in that category. Broadcaster Channels TV was the most admired Nigerian media brand.

Overall, taking into account both African and non-African brands, US footwear maker Nike took the top spot once again as most admired brand in Africa, as it did in 2021 and 2020. Overall, only 17 of the top 100 brands originated in Africa, including MTN (10th place), Globacom (32nd) and DStv (37th).

Thebe Ikalafeng, founder of Brand Africa, said: “No one can do Africa better than Africans.” But he acknowledged that Africans often undervalue the continent’s brands, which is why he launched Brand Africa in 2010, to drive collaboration promoting African places, products and people.

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Osakioduwa, Matheba to host 8th AMVCA

IK Osakioduwa and Bonang Matheba

Nigerian TV presenter IK Osakioduwa and South African radio host and TV presenter Bonang Matheba have been named as the hosts for the eighth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), set to take place on May 14 in Lagos.

Matheba has hosted several awards shows and events, including 2016’s MTV Africa Music Awards, 2016’s BET Awards and Miss South Africa 2019, while Osakioduwa is the current host of the ongoing Nigerian Idol S7 competition and has hosted lots of other high-profile shows including Big Brother Africa.

Busola Tejumola, executive head of content and West Africa channels at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are excited to have Bonang join IK as co-host for the eighth edition of the AMVCAs. They are both extremely talented and have attained continental acclaim having both hosted some of Africa’s biggest shows. Together they will keep the crowd entertained on the biggest night to celebrate African film and TV stars.”

Bonang added: “It’s been a long time coming. It’s always such an honour to host live productions and I think after Covid-19, we haven’t had the opportunity to be outside to have these big, big productions with live studio audiences. So it’s lovely to have all of that back. It’s also an honour. Any single stage I get to step on is an honour. I’ve always wanted to work with IK. I am a huge fan of his, so I’m looking forward to that too.”

“I feel really honoured to be hosting the AMVCAs again. I’m also really excited about the decision to honour the social media content creators with a category of their own. Trust me when I say, without a doubt this year is going to be another amazing outing for the African film industry,” added Osakioduwa.

The event is produced and broadcast by Africa Magic in association with MultiChoice and is sponsored by drinks brand Amstel Malta. It will air live on Africa Magic channels on DStv and GOtv at 4pm WAT on May 14.

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MultiChoice brings Disney+ to South Africa

Pay TV company MultiChoice has partnered with The Walt Disney Company Africa to bring streaming service Disney+ to the company’s DStv digital satellite platform in South Africa.

Christine Service

Disney+ is set to launch in South Africa on May 18 and will be available to DStv subscribers via the Explora Ultra decoder. They will have access to a collection of exclusive originals, including feature-length films, documentaries, live-action, animated series and shortform content.

Christine Service, senior VP and general manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa, said: “This is yet another proud milestone in our partnership with the MultiChoice Group. We are delighted to be collaborating to bring South African DStv subscribers access to Disney+’s incredible catalogue of films, series and exclusive content.”

Calvo Mawela, group CEO of MultiChoice, added: “In line with our business objective of adding value and enhancing our ecosystem, we are focused on making sure that all our customers can enjoy their favourite shows and movies anywhere, anytime, on our world-class platforms.

Calvo Mawela

“The digital world has brought with it fundamental shifts and our customers are looking for convenient access to a portfolio of entertainment options. MultiChoice’s partnership with Disney+ leads with an expanded choice of content, ease and convenience of subscription and payment, with the DStv Explora Ultra as an enabler.”

Disney+ launched in the US in November 2019 and has since expanded around the world and amassed more than 130 million subscribers. It will be available in more than 50 countries by the end of 2022 and in over 160 by the end of 2023.

As well as the South African launch next month, Disney+ will also debut in the Middle East and North Africa on June 8 and in Israel on June 16.

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MultiChoice preps new Ghanaian channel

African pay TV company MultiChoice is set to debut a new Ghanaian channel called Akwaaba Magic Abusua.

Kennedy Dankyi-Appah

The 24-hour general entertainment channel is intended to be suitable for family viewing and will showcase a mix of authentic content for the Ghanaian market, ranging from drama, telenovelas and comedy to music, movies and reality shows, according to MultiChoice.

Subscribers to MultiChoice’s DStv and GOtv will be able to watch Ghanaian titles such as weekly telenovela Dede, dramas To Have & To Hold and Inside Out (adapted from South African series The Housekeepers), and reality show Sankofa.

International titles such as Gomora are also in the mix, dubbed into local languages. Akwaaba Magic Abusua will launch on May 2 at 16.00 and will air on DStv channel 149 and GOtv channel 108.

Kennedy Dankyi-Appah, channel head for Akwaaba Magic Abusua, said: “We are proud of the role we are currently playing in the TV and entertainment sector in Ghana and will continuously study sociographic and economic factors that influence consumption in a competitive market and adjust ourselves accordingly to ensure we are providing relevant and topical content at great value.”

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M-Net lines up South African drama

Desert Rose is directed by Cindy Lee

South African pay TV channel M-Net, part of MultiChoice Group, will premiere its latest African drama series in early June.

Eight-part series Desert Rose is filled with black comedy, suspense, crime and romance, according to the network, and is set on a remote farm in the Northern Cape.

Desert Rose is produced by Quizzical Pictures, directed by Cindy Lee and written by award-winning screenwriter and showrunner Rohan Dickson. It will premiere on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on June 2 at 20.30 and will also be available on demand.

Desert Rose tells the story of a disenfranchised and forgotten desert town through the eyes of one family. When the young son of an absent father refuses a request from the family’s benefactor, it sets off a series of escalating events as the family is forced to confront the mayhem that comes their way.

The cast includes Neil Sandilands, Amalia Uys, Kai Luke Brümmer, Christia Visser, Tinarie van Wyk, Daniah de Villiers, Brandon Daniels, Danny Ross, Roeline Daneel and Melt Sieberhagen.

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Showmax orders four Kenyan originals

Igiza is about twin sisters at war with each other

MultiChoice-owned African SVoD platform Showmax has commissioned a slate of four original Kenyan productions, set to launch later this year, as it expands its investment in the country.

Its 2022 slate includes crime drama Pepeta, which follows the intertwined lives of an aspiring 17-year-old footballer, an unforgiving cop and an ambitious football coach.

Produced by CJ3 Entertainment’s James Kombo, Mwangi Rurengo and Wanja Mworia, the show is set to go into production this month. Damaris Irungu (Crime and Justice), Charles Ouda (Waiting Room, Makutano Junction) and Abigail Arunga (How to Find a Husband) are writing.

Showmax has also ordered a 13-part thriller called Igiza, about twin sisters who are at war after a betrayal that changes their lives forever. The project is helmed by Abdi Shuria (Nafsi), King Muriuki (The XYZ Show) and Abu Melita under their company Yare Productions. Serah Ndanu (Sumu la Penzi, Pieces of Us) plays both sisters in the series, which is currently in production.

Also on the docket for 2022 is County 49, a political thriller about the citizens of a fictional county who are suffering from the high cost of living and scarce resources, despite the county’s wealth. It is produced by Likarion Wainaina, Brian Munene and Millicent Ogutu of Kibanda Pictures and Bruce Makau. Munene also writes alongside Voline Ogutu (Crime and Justice), Mercy Mutisya (Too Early for Birds) and Martin Kingondu.

In addition, Showmax has commissioned Kenya’s first-ever Christmas movie. The as-yet-untitled project is produced by Reuben Odanga, who is writing the film alongside Natasha Likimani.

The greenlights come on the heels of the release of Showmax’s first Kenyan original, Crime & Justice, which is now in its second season, in addition to drama series Single Kiasi and feature film Baba Twins.

Timothy Okwaro, MultiChoice channel director for East and Southern Africa, said: “We have worked with new production houses to expand our genre offering to ensure our viewers get to see the very best of Kenyan stories told in different facets of life, from thrillers to crime dramas to political thrillers.

“This slate speaks to our localisation strategy and the keen focus on working with local producers, both established and upcoming, to ensure we give our viewers what they want.”

Outside of Kenya, Showmax’s original productions include ENO, which is the company’s first Ghanaian original, soon-to-launch reality show The Real Housewives of Lagos, South African telenovela The Wife, The Real Housewives of Durban and upcoming fantasy epic Blood Psalms, set in ancient Africa.

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MultiChoice to launch DreamWorks channel

African pay TV company MultiChoice is set to launch a 24-hour channel called DreamWorks on its digital satellite platform DStv.

Lee Raftery

The channel will beam kids and family entertainment across sub-Saharan Africa and will offer subscribers to the DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact channel packages access to a variety of TV content. DreamWorks starts airing on March 18 on DStv 304.

The move comes after DStv said it would drop four channels run by Cape Town-based eMedia from its DStv satellite platform on April 1, namely eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and eToonz. DStv is expected to add a new movie channel later this year.

Lee Raftery, MD for Europe, Middle East and Africa at DreamWorks’ parent NBCUniversal International Networks & Direct-To-Consumer, said: “We are thrilled to be expanding our long-standing, successful partnership with MultiChoice through its DStv platform, by bringing DreamWorks’ animated series and its beloved characters to households across sub-Saharan Africa. DreamWorks offers the best in kids’ entertainment for all the family, with a strong and engaging content slate that will captivate DStv customers of all ages.”

Georginah Machiridza, executive head of content strategy and third-party Cchannels at MultiChoice, said: “As a business we continue to look for opportunities to expand both our local and international content offering across Africa. By adding DreamWorks, we believe we are adding more value and entertainment to our already expansive kids entertainment portfolio. With DreamWorks our customers can look forward to entertainment suitable for the whole family.”

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MultiChoice Namibia seeks film proposals

MultiChoice Namibia and the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are on the lookout for film proposals that reflect authentic Namibian stories.

Roger Gertze

Experienced filmmakers and producers who are citizens or permanent residents of Namibia and have an idea suitable for television can submit their proposals here by March 25.

Proposals must include relatable characters and themes covering unique real-life experiences like love, hope and betrayal. Made-for-TV film concepts may be in Namibian local languages but they must be culturally relevant and specific to the setting of the story.

Other stipulations are that any dialogue in indigenous languages should include English subtitles. Also, the film should be 50 minutes long and the accepted genres include comedy, family drama, action and romantic comedy. Any proposal should be suitable for family viewing.

Proposals should also include an overview of company – writers/director/DOP, logline, genre, synopsis, characters, a summary of the main character’s journey and a budget estimate figure.

MultiChoice has for many years showcased original and diverse Namibian content on its platforms through a carriage agreement that has made the national broadcaster’s channels available on its platforms DStv and GOtv.

Roger Gertze, managing director of MultiChoice Namibia, said: “We believe that with this massive investment to our film industry, we remain committed to supporting local production houses, including talented actors, writers and filmmakers.”

Stanley Benjamin Similo, NBC’s director-general, said: “Over the years, NBC has been the trusted national broadcaster of choice that has been dedicated to showcasing local content.

“MultiChoice Namibia has greatly assisted us with broadening our spectrum through its platforms. The renewal of the [MultiChoice/NBC] carriage agreement further strengthens our long-standing partnership to deliver quality local content to our audiences, and the implementation of the call for submissions is proof of that.”

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MultiChoice drops four eMedia channels

South African pay TV operator MultiChoice is set to drop four channels from Cape Town-based eMedia from its DStv satellite platform from April 1.

In a statement, free-to-air broadcaster eMedia said: “eMedia and MultiChoice have renewed a channel supply agreement in which MultiChoice has opted not to carry certain eMedia channels, namely eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and eToonz. Effective 1 April, DStv will only broadcast eNCA (channel 403) exclusively and the daily Afrikaans News Bulletin on kykNET (channel 144).”

The company added that its flagship channel e.tv, licensed to MultiChoice under a separate agreement, will continue to air on the DStv platform and all the eMedia channels will continue to broadcast and are still available on South Africa’s Openview free-to-air satellite TV platform via a decoder.

Explaining the move, MultiChoice said viewers still have access to other entertainment channels carried by the DStv platform. MultiChoice is planning to launch more of its own channels targeting movie fans and children, the latter via a recent deal with US giant DreamWorks.

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Africa Magic unveils new gameshow

MultiChoice-owned entertainment channel Africa Magic has unveiled a new gameshow titled Come Play Naija.

Come Play Naija

The 60-minute gameshow format involves two teams competing against each other for a chance to win millions of Naira and other surprise prizes such as a new car.

The show is divided into five segments with different games, namely a trivia game, three obstacle courses and a contest called Spin the Wheel. Each segment will require one or more team members to participate in the games which are valued from N400,000 to N2,000,000.

Subscribers to MultiChoice’s pay TV platforms DStv and GOtv will also have the opportunity to take part in the home play edition on the Saturday live show to win cash prizes.

Busola Tejumola, executive head of content and West Africa channels at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “The new show is an entertainment package that will further affirm Africa Magic’s position as a leading local entertainment provider, ranging from reality shows to movies, drama series, and now family gameshows.

“We are very excited about our latest show which happens to be a first-of-its-kind family gameshow in Nigeria. We know how much our viewers enjoyed the Big Brother Naija’s Friday night games, so we decided to create a show where they get to participate in light-hearted, fun, entertaining and fast-paced games to win amazing prizes.”

The show will be hosted by media personality Hero Daniels and will premiere on March 3 at 9pm on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv channel 151), Africa Magic Urban (DStv channel 153 and GOtv SUPA channel 6) and Africa Magic Family (DStv channel 154 and GOtv channel 2).

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Victor Okhai to head AMVCA judges

Victor Okhai, a seasoned producer, scriptwriter, cinematographer, director and film consultant, has been appointed head judge of the eighth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs).

Victor Okhai

He is the current national president of the Directors’ Guild of Nigeria, founder and director of IN-Short Film Festival, the biggest short film festival in sub-Saharan Africa, and a member of the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee.

In 2013, Okhai was nominated as Africa’s foremost film promoter by Tanzania-based Africa Film Development Association. He is a board member of the African Film Consortium and the Mokolo project, an Africa film database supported by the German Foreign Ministry, and a member of the National Advisory Committee on film development in Nigeria to the Nigeria Film Corporation.

Busola Tejumola, executive head of content and West Africa Channels at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are delighted to have Mr Okhai head the nomination and judging process for the eighth edition of the AMVCAs. He brings decades’ worth of knowledge and experience in the local and international film and TV industry to this critical role. We are certain his involvement in this edition will further reaffirm the AMVCAs’ commitment to professionalism in recognising and showcasing exceptional works on the continent.”

Okhai said: “I am delighted to be appointed head judge of the AMVCA for 2022. It is, in my view, the most credible and most glamorous awards ceremony on the continent today. You, the viewers, will have a voice in the judging process, experienced industry practitioners will be on the jury and above all, Deloitte will verify and audit the process to guarantee the integrity of the awards. Winning the AMVCA is the ultimate badge of honour and recognition for excellence and hard work.”

The eighth edition of the AMVCAs is scheduled to take place in Lagos later in the year and is produced by Africa Magic in association with MultiChoice and is sponsored by Amstel Malta.

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MultiChoice launches two new channels

Pay TV company MultiChoice has launched two new channels for viewers in Angola and Mozambique.

Joao Ribeiro

Maningue Magic (Mozambique) and Kwenda Magic (Angola) will air dramas, telenovelas, comedies, local versions of hit reality shows, dubbed international content and homegrown music on MultiChoice’s DStv and GOtv platforms.

Maningue Magic features programmes including telenovela Maida, Mozambican music show Estação do Boss and Date My Family Moçambique, a local adaptation of the hit South African reality dating show Date My Family, which airs on Mzansi Magic.

Content on Kwenda Magic, meanwhile, includes O Rio, an Angolan adaptation of popular 1Magic telenovela The River; Makongo, a new drama about a young man’s life in Luanda; and Salão de Beleza, a sitcom about a Luanda establishment and its diverse customers.

Joao Ribeiro, channel head for both Kwenda Magic and Maningue Magic, said the channel launches represent “an exciting milestone” in MultiChoice’s hyperlocal strategy and are already providing a significant boost to the production industries in both countries.

“MultiChoice’s mission is to showcase Africa’s diverse, rich culture through our continent’s deep storytelling history. To have two new 24-hour channels in local languages, featuring locally produced content, provides an incredibly powerful platform to do this,” Ribeiro said.

“Until now, independent producers had few outlets for their work and had to act on many levels, struggling to get budgets and to have their content shown. With our channels requiring content 24 hours a day, we can now invite local producers to pitch ideas, to commission and develop projects, and to pay fair, market-related rates for work.

“By investing in the industry, we are creating opportunities for local talent, telling local stories, and adding to the stability of the industry. We believe it’s our responsibility to grow the industry in countries where we operate and to deliver content that resonates with our viewers.”

Fhulufhelo Badugela

Commenting on the ongoing hyperlocal strategy and production of content across Africa, MultiChoice Africa CEO Fhulufhelo Badugela said: “When we develop local channels or produce local content, we aim to create a platform that reflects local culture, so audiences see themselves represented in the content they watch.

“Localisation goes beyond simply duplicating popular formats in a different language or with a different cast; it’s about incorporating a country’s social, gender and religious conventions, as well as pop-culture trends like music, influencers and celebrities, into stories. This is what makes our hyperlocal strategy unique and exciting.”

Over the past 18 months, MultiChoice has grown its local content offering by launching several channels, including Pearl Magic Prime, Akwaaba Magic and Abol TV in Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia, respectively, as well as hit international coproductions like Reyka and ongoing local productions like the ever-popular Big Brother Naija.

Maningue Magic airs on DStv channel 503 and GOtv max channel 19, while Kwenda Magic airs on DStv channel 502.

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MasterChef SA’s new judges revealed

Justine Drake, Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki front the new MasterChef SA

MultiChoice-owned African pay TV network M-Net has revealed the new judges for returning cooking competition reality series MasterChef South Africa, which set for a fourth season after five years off-air.

The new judges are chefs Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki and food editor Justine Drake. The trio will be the culinary masters whose palates and expertise will guide 20 contestants to the ultimate R1m (US$66,000) prize and the coveted title of MasterChef.

According to M-Net, the judges, with their varied experience and viewpoints, will inject freshness into the new season of MasterChef SA, with Czarnecki bringing the perspective of an international chef and Nene and Drake the local experts.

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment and connected video for MultiChoice, said: “We’re very excited to have one of our most-loved shows – and toughest of reality competitions – returning to our screen after some time away. We have always had a rich crop of home chefs to choose from, but the pandemic has certainly created more, and this is the perfect time for MasterChef South Africa to make a comeback.”

Commenting on having two women on the MasterChef SA panel, Dave De Bie, format consultant at Banijay, the company that owns the format, said: “We are focused on improving the gender balance in MasterChef judges worldwide. Over the last couple of years, we have increased the number of female judges and this is something we are continuing to improve upon.

“Out of 37 active markets, 26 now have female judges. We are delighted that MasterChef SA joins the likes of Israel, Norway, and Brazil with two female experts on their panel.”

The 20-episode series is produced by Cape Town-based production company Homebrew while the MasterChef format and programmes are represented internationally by Banijay Rights.

MasterChef South Africa S4 premieres on February 28 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) at 18.00 and the finale will air on March 31.

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MultiChoice names new MTF director

African pay TV company MultiChoice has appointed Atinuke Ngozi Babatunde as the new academy director at its talent incubator, the MultiChoice Talent Factory.

Atinuke Ngozi Babatunde

Babatunde has over 20 years of industry experience, spanning entertainment, branding, research, media management, marketing and strategy. In her new role, she will responsible for ensuring that talented creatives are given world-class training at the MultiChoice Talent Factory academy.

Babatunde joined M-Net (Africa Magic) in 2014 as the head of channel for Africa Magic Entertainment, which is now called Africa Magic Showcase. She became head of channel for Africa Magic Urban in 2015 and led the team that converted the channel from a movie-only service to the current general entertainment channel.

Babatunde was also the head of the channel for Africa Magic Igbo and led the team that launched it on the MultiChoice-owned DStv satellite platform. In 2018, the Africa Magic Epic channel was added to her portfolio of channels, and she drove the content acquisition strategy for the four channels.

Babatunde holds an MSc degree from the University of Lagos and an MBA from the Lagos Business School, where she graduated with distinctions in marketing, entrepreneurship and strategy.

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African TV subs set to rise to 57 million

The number of pay TV subscriptions in Africa is set to climb from 39 million in 2021 to 57 million by 2027, according to newly released projections from UK analysis firm Digital TV Research.

However, while the number of subscribers is predicted to grow by 46%, the revenues derived from those subscriptions will rise by only 35%, due to the fact Africa’s three dominant pay TV providers – Multichoice, StarTimes and Canal+ – will reduce their prices as they tussle for supremacy in the region.

According to Digital TV Research, pay TV revenues in Africa will climb to US$6.46bn in 2027, up from US$4.78bn in 2021.

By 2027, South African broadcaster and pay TV provider Multichoice will have 20.8 million subscribers across its DStv and GOtv platforms, said the research firm. Meanwhile, Chinese media company StarTimes, which has a significant presence across sub-Saharan Africa, will grow to 18.4 million, and Vivendi-owned French company Canal+ will climb to 11.2 million subs.

“Few new players are expected. Instead, the three protagonists will battle for supremacy – often by cutting prices,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

While the pay TV sector in Africa is set to grow significantly over the next five years, data from Digital TV Research indicates that OTT will grow at a much faster rate. A report released last year suggested revenue from movies and TV series on OTT platforms in Africa will reach US$1.7bn by 2026, compared with US$392m in 2020. Around US$1.5bn will come from SVoD platforms, said Digital TV Research.

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Showmax lines up next Kenyan original

Single-ish

MultiChoice-owned African streaming service Showmax will launch its next original Kenyan series, Single-ish, on January 20.

The 13-part drama is adapted from the hit South African series Unmarried and is produced by Insignia Productions. It is co-directed by Philippe Bresson, Grace Kahaki and Robby Bresson.

Single-ish tells the story of three women in Nairobi: a career-focused lawyer who seems to have the perfect life; a woman with a taste for the finer things in life; and a housewife and mother who has lived with her high-school sweetheart for nine years.

The series follows how the three women deal with the challenges that marriage, relationships and careers throw at them. It also explores the strong bond of friendship that they share. Gathoni Mutua (This Is Life), Minne Kariuki (Ma’Empress) and Faith Kibathi (This Is Life) star.

Single-ish is the second Showmax original series from Kenya after the Kalasha-nominated police procedural drama Crime & Justice. The streamer’s original productions in the country began with the film Baba Twins, which launched last month.

Mutua said: “Other than the fact that it’s a show about women, Single-ish has this chic yet nostalgic old-school girlfriends’ vibe that takes the drama a notch higher without feeling like the friendship will fall apart.”

Regarding her character, Kariuki said: “She is a modern-day slay queen who pretends to afford a lavish lifestyle and flaunts it all on social media because she wants to keep up with the trends. Single-ish doesn’t shy away from telling it all as it is, capturing the struggles of modern women.”

Kibathi added: “Single-ish is different because it’s very relatable and has a touch of the actual dating experiences in Nairobi. It also shows the beauty of reliable female friendship, especially when things get bad.”

Other stars include Brian Abajah (Sincerely Daisy), Michael Munyoki (A Grand Little Lie), Lucarelli Onyango (Crime & Justice), Mburu Kimani (Nairobi Half Life), Lenana Kariba (Selina), Dora Nyaboke (Crime & Justice) and Jacky Kaboi (Bait).

Bresson, co-founder and director of Nairobi-based Insignia, said: “For the first time, we are able to depict real life in an unfiltered way. To me, this is real filmmaking, when you are able to tell the story as it should be, so even as the viewer watches it, they will be surprised, shocked and will fall in love with how we tell the story.

“I don’t think there’s been any other show that has pushed the boundary in terms of women’s issues as we have.”

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UNESCO hails Africa’s $20bn potential

The film and audiovisual industry in Africa has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and generate US$20bn in revenues per year, a new report claims.

The report, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), was conducted between November 2020 and May 2021. It forms part of UNESCO’s commitment to the diversity of cultural expression and to help develop dynamic cultural and creative industries (CCIs) on the continent.

Titled The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth, the report maps the film and audiovisual industry in the 54 states of the African continent, analyses their strengths and weaknesses and offers recommendations for action at the continental, regional and national levels.

The report states: “The economic potential of the film and audiovisual sectors remains largely untapped and is historically and structurally underfunded, underdeveloped and undervalued, generating only US$5bn in annual revenue out of a potential US$20bn, according to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers.”

Even though cinemas closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, from an infrastructure perspective, the distribution sector underwent profound changes.

“Before the pandemic, new French investments in francophone West Africa, Morocco and Tunisia were expected to triple the number of screens in the region by 2024. Most impressively, Nigeria emerged as a true success story, showing a 200% increase in cinema locations between 2015 and 2020, with the total number of Digital Cinema Initiative-compliant screens reaching 237 in 2020. Home-grown Nollywood films now rival Hollywood blockbusters at the box office.”

Thanks to digital technologies, production has been growing rapidly in Africa in recent years. The broadcast industry is now almost fully liberalised, with over 1,000 private television channels operating across the continent.

This follows the opening up of some of the last markets, such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire, and the gradual transitioning process from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television.

There is now growth in pay TV, dominated by South Africa’s MultiChoice (with 20.1 million subscribers), China’s StarTimes (7.8 million) and France’s Canal+ (six million).

Technology has given rise to affordable digital film equipment and the ability to distribute and monetise content directly to consumers via online platforms, ranging from YouTube, other social media and Netflix to local mobile video services. This has led to a new economy for African content creators which bypasses traditional gatekeepers.

The report states there are positive signs that countries across the continent are waking up to the potential of their creative industries, and more specifically of film and television.

Moreover, in this tumultuous period, it is becoming increasingly urgent for African governments to establish strong national, regional and continental strategies to take control of their fast-growing creative sectors.

The report highlights four potential blueprints for growth, namely the Nollywood model, the Auteur model, the Service model and the Festival model.

“Particular attention must be paid to addressing current industry trends and challenges in an informed and collective manner. Only in this way can states ensure that their past, present and future creative products are protected, preserved and developed, and that their cultural and commercial value benefits Africa and contributes to its global outreach,” it adds.

The African VoD sector is also growing rapidly, with subscriptions poised to balloon from 3.9 million in 2020 to 13 million in 2025, according to UK-based analyst Digital TV Research.

“Netflix now has about two million subscribers across the continent, while the South African Showmax has some 688,000 direct subscribers. In North Africa (and the Middle East), StarzPlay is another strong contender, with 1.8 million subscribers across the Arab region,” says the UNESCO report.

“In Côte d’Ivoire, VoD services have developed spectacularly recently thanks to the deployment of more than 5,000 kilometers of optical fibre in the territory. Most local operators, such as RTI and mobile operators Orange, MTN and Moov Africa, have also launched their own VoD services.”

It adds that the Nigerian film industry employs over a million people directly or indirectly, having produced some 2,599 films in 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, making it the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output after Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood.

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Mzansi Magic brings back Big Brother SA

MultiChoice-owned South African network Mzansi Magic is bringing classic reality format Big Brother back to local screens for the first time in seven years.

Produced by Randburg-based Red Pepper Pictures, Big Brother Mzansi has started casting for a new season to launch in 2022, having last aired on the channel in 2015.

Banijay Rights handles international distribution of the format, which was devised by noted Dutch format creator and producer John de Mol and first aired in the Netherlands in 1999.

“This year marks 20 years since the very first Big Brother on MultiChoice’s M-Net and we are excited to celebrate this milestone by commissioning a new Big Brother season, which will be housed under our Mzansi Magic stable,” said Nomsa Philiso, executive head of programming, at M-Net.

“This is a show that has always delivered top ratings and entertainment value, and our viewer and advertising partners can look forward to a stellar season of Big Brother.”

Robin Pollok, VP of sales for Africa, Middle East, Greece and Israel at Banijay Rights, added: “Seven years have passed since Big Brother Mzansi last graced South African viewers’ screens and we couldn’t be happier to work with MultiChoice and Red Pepper Pictures to revive this global phenomenon, which continues to have an enduring appeal worldwide.”

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MultiChoice links up with Udemy platform

Pay TV company MultiChoice has collaborated with online learning platform Udemy to offer its DStv and GOtv customers across Africa skills advancement and development opportunities.

Fhulufhelo Badugela

According to South Africa-based MultiChoice, over the years its customers have been able to access educational content on Discovery, Nat Geo Wild, History Channel, DaVinci Kids, BBC and other channels.

They will therefore have access to some of the best online learning opportunities available as well as thousands of courses to aid them in their personal and professional development.

Fhulufhelo Badugela, CEO of MultiChoice Africa, said: “We’re very excited to partner with an innovative and purposeful platform like Udemy, especially as the world shifts to an online learning future.

“We are constantly seeking ways to enrich and progress the lives of our valued customers and tapping into learning and development is a natural next step. Investing in the future of our continent is a top priority and we are proud to be able to collaborate with another platform that values the accessible advancement of our customers as much as we do.”

Llibert Argerich, senior VP of marketing at Udemy, added: “As a global learning platform, our mission is to provide access and create new opportunities for learners around the world, across a wide range of content areas and at all levels of expertise. MultiChoice has a long history of prioritising learning, and we’re proud to be working with them to unlock new possibilities for learners across the continent.”

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