MultiChoice Group-owned South African SVoD service Showmax has picked up Zimbabwean scripted series Working Wives, produced last year by Ndiani Studios.
Working Wives is a 13-episode dramedy inspired by the Real Housewives franchise that follows the lives of a group of Harare women from a Millennial perspective. It also explores the challenges faced by a modern African woman tied to tradition in an urban world.
The series was adapted from a blog created by Sharon Bwanya and was produced by Tendayi Nyeke. It stars Tendaiishe Chitima, Dikelo Mamiala, Tendai Nguni, Nyasha Grace Munangatire, Maritawana Dhliwayo, Chipo Mugovewedenga Chikara and Megan Victor-Carelse.
“The series is an exciting pan-African collaboration shot between Zimbabwe and South Africa, starring a crew and talent from both countries in a time that sees borders fall as far as storytelling and viewing experience is concerned. Brace yourselves for a comedy drama because as crazy as life gets, it’s easier to swallow the hard pill with a good laugh,” said Nyeke.
Ndiani Studios launched Working Wives independently in 2020, with episodes available over the web via sites including Vimeo, and is available to air to international audiences with Showmax access. The series is distributed by Cote Ouest Audiovisuel.
African pay TV operator MultiChoice has launched two new channels on its platform: WildEarth and OneZed.
WildEarth airs on channel 183 and connects people with nature through live broadcasts and interactive experiences from the wilderness. It also focuses on live safari shows from wildlife locations including the Greater Kruger, the Kalahari, the Maasai Mara and other nature reserves.
Graham Wallington, co-founder and CEO at WildEarth, said: “WildEarth is all about sharing nature with everyone so we can all see why we must conserve our beautiful home.”
Cecil Sunkwa-Mills, MultiChoice’s MD for Ghana, added: “It’s important for us that our customers always have access to the best possible content available. We will continue to source the best possible content as we strive to bolster the channels on offer on our platform.”
OneZed is a general entertainment and family channel that blends a mix of talkshows, dramas, music shows and documentaries. It airs on DStv 172 and seeks to promote African talent.
Gus Banda, MD of MultiChoice Malawa, said: “This is one of the ways in which we continue to show how we are putting our customers at the heart of everything we do as a business and we will continue to add more value for their viewing pleasure.”
UK-based distributor Fugitive has struck a deal with South African entertainment company MultiChoice, under which the former will become the exclusive distributor for the latter’s original scripted series.
MultiChoice operates linear channel M-Net and SVoD platform Showmax, both of which have a slate of originals in development and production. Fugitive is launching three series at this year’s MipTV, with a further nine to be delivered in the 2021-22 financial year.
The first of the initial three series is Lioness, a 10×60’ crime drama produced by M-Net about a woman who is framed and sent to prison for a fraud committed by her husband, who has recently been found dead. Eight years later, she’s released and, while fighting to reunite with her children and prove her innocence, sees her husband on TV, alive.
Dam, meanwhile, is an 8×60’ psychological thriller about a woman who returns from Chile to the Eastern Cape to bury her father, only to be tormented by spirits in the farmhouse she has inherited. But with her mother institutionalised and her own meds running out, she starts to wonder if the spirits are real or just in her head. Dam is produced by Picture Tree.
The third series is Legacy (208×30’), a telenovela produced by Tshedza Pictures for M-Net. The show follows an investment billionaire who is approaching retirement, clearing the way for a family member to take the reins to the empire. The ensuing power struggle turns nasty, with a mix of betrayal, secrets, lies and revenge playing out on screen.
In addition to representing completed drama programming, Fugitive will also help MultiChoice secure future coproductions and pre-sales from the international market for titles on its originals slate.
Pay TV operator MultiChoice is set to add three channels based in the north of Nigeria, Liberty, Tozali and Rahama, to its platform.
The move comes as part of an agreement between MultiChoice Nigeria with representatives from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG).
This agreement was struck after the CNG submitted a petition calling for a boycott of MultiChoice services in the northern region.
According to media publication Broadcast Media Africa, the petition accused MultiChoice, the owner and operator of pay TV platform DStv, of not featuring northern-based TV channels on its platform and also not embracing content diversity geared towards national growth and development to benefit to the region.
CNG spokesman Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said: “MultiChoice is committed to considering additional eligible and interested northern-based television channels on its DStv platform. The current situation with MultiChoice is due to a lack of credible communication in the languages understood by natives.” Suleiman also urged MultiChoice to assist in bridging this perceived communication gap.
South African telenovela Rockville has been renewed for a fifth season by MultiChoice-owned channel Mzansi Magic and will hit the screens in April.
The show was created in 2013 by South African TV production duo Connie and Shona Ferguson and produced by their production company, Ferguson Films. It is written by Phathutshedzo Makwarela, Gwydion Beynon, Linda Bere, Chisanga Kabinga, Pamela Power and Sibusiso Mamba.
Rockville follows the story of two black families who represent the middle class and the working class. The storyline revolves around their ongoing feud over a series of misunderstandings and problems.
“Rockville was our very first project as executive producers and laid the foundation for Ferguson Films to start building Mzansi Magic’s first-ever drama series after the channel was launched. We’re looking forward to welcoming the squad that started it all back and introducing new and exciting characters and talent. More details about the cast of Rockville 5 will be announced soon,” said Connie Ferguson.
Pay TV company MultiChoice Kenya has collaborated with Azuri Technologies, a UK-based provider of affordable pay-as-you-go solar home systems, to provide DStv content to off-grid households in Kenya.
With the DStv HD decoder and Azuri’s TV400 system, which has an 80W solar panel and a 160Wh LFP battery, customers will have access to DStv entertainment, local and international news, documentaries, sports and educational content.
Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “We are delighted to partner with MultiChoice to bring the world-leading DStv content to our customers. By expanding the choice of content available to even off-grid customers, we are taking another step in shrinking the gap between households with and without the grid.”
MultiChoice Kenya MD Nancy Matimu added: “MultiChoice is always seeking new partnerships to find ways to offer great and affordable video entertainment to families across the country. We want to deliver our local content, telenovelas, world-class sport and blockbusters straight into the hands and homes of our customers. This partnership with Azuri is one way that we are able to ensure our content is available to the widest possible audience throughout the country.”
The Azuri TV400 system can be purchased for a down payment of KES8,999 (US$82), plus a daily usage fee of KES115 over 30 months. The DStv HD decoder offers a wide range of viewing packages.
Azuri operates in five key African territories: Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda. Its East Africa headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya, and its West Africa headquarters are in Lagos, Nigeria.
Free-to-air satellite television service PremiumFree TV from international channels operator AfricaXP will launch in South Africa on May 1.
The new service will feature a bouquet of 18 TV channels, including BongoTV (focusing on Swahili movies), True African Channel (African blockbusters), Fresh (reality shows), Limelight (family and action movies), Romanza+ Africa (telenovelas) and LOL Africa (comedy).
Also in the bouquet are Sports Connect, Kiddiwinks, Pulse, Riverwood (Kenyan movies), RPM (motor sports channel), LifeTV (crime and investigation), DIVA (entertainment), Gospellife, Fight Night (martial arts and boxing) and Synapse (e-gaming).
Viewers can access the channels through Openview decoders, MultiChoice’s DStv decoders and universal free-to-air set-top decoders using a satellite dish.
In late 2018, AfricaXP launched PremiumFree TV in Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa with 13 TV channels as a freely available satellite TV offering. The company is bringing its multichannel bouquet to sub-Saharan Africa two-and-a-half years later after acquiring space on Intelsat’s IS20 satellite.
AfricaXP CEO Craig Kelly told SA blog TV With Thinus: “Broadcasting unencrypted not only means that the service can be offered free of charge, it also means that the channels can be instantly received on dishes and decoders already owned, installed and connected. It’s all about instant reach for us and with no extra equipment or cost for the viewer.
“After years of stagnation in the African TV market, characterised by the regular failure of new pay TV initiatives, Intelsat’s decision to seek out AfricaXP as a partner and allocate one of the few available transponders on IS20 to PremiumFree TV is a clear vote of confidence in the PremiumFree TV project. Intelsat has a clear conviction that multichannel free-to-air TV delivered over satellite has a big role to play in the future of the African TV market.”
Intelsat senior account director Christelle Meyer added: “Many countries dealing with economic disparity or smaller populations struggle with making fibre and mobile broadband work as a universal media distribution technology. Satellite will play a vital role in delivering rich media content to all corners of the continent well into the future.”
Meyer said that since January 7 PremiumFree TV has been transmitting a pilot channel on the IS20 transponder with at least 18 TV channels in a bouquet that will be tested from April and PremiumFree TV will officially launch on May 1.
“It’s exciting to be able to offer a compelling multichannel bouquet to such a large and underserved market. Free-to-air TV is critical in stimulating the market by offering value to a segment that can’t afford to pay regularly for premium content, if at all,” Meyer added.
“A strong media industry is symbiotic for the whole ecosystem. Strong free-to-air drives penetration of TV sets, stimulate content development and grows viewing habits which in turn attracts advertisers. We hope to make our contribution to stimulating activity to the benefit for all players.”
African pay TV platform MultiChoice has revealed plans to increase local content on its channels from 38% to 44% over the next two years.
MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela made this announcement in an interview on CNN Connecting Africa, noting that over US$136.49bn has so far been spent by the company on African productions.
Mawela said: “We have invested a lot in local content across the continent; we call it going hyper-local. Each year we spend over R2bn [US$133m] investing in local content productions across the whole continent.
“Our plan is to increase our local content composition from 38% to 44% in the next two years. We have been on this nice trajectory over a number of years and we think we should be able to achieve that.”
Speaking about the fact that international players could also have some level of local content, he told Punch Nigeria: “We go deeper into the communities and tell stories in the street language they use on a day-to-day basis and the storytelling is based on their everyday lives.
“If you look at our numbers, we are sitting at over 20 million subscribers and we think we can grow very quickly to 50 million subscribers. They are used to how we tell our stories, and I think that’s going to keep us competitive and we should be able to challenge the likes of Netflix.”
Mawela also said that MultiChoice had launched local content channels in Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia and will soon debut similar services in Uganda and Ghana.
MultiChoice-owned African pay TV operator DStv is gearing up to debut a new pop-up Korean channel called tvN Africa.
The new channel will air on DStv 134 from March 1 for four months with new programming every weekday at 18.45. It will feature music variety shows like I-Land, Korean dramas including Encounter, romantic series and action dramas such as Signal.
Michael Jung, MD of tvN owner CJ ENM Hong Kong, said: “It is evident Hallyu fever is on the rise in Africa. We are thrilled to partner with MultiChoice, the leading pay TV provider in Africa, to be the first Korean entertainment brand to launch on DStv. We will do our best to bring all premium Korean entertainment to the fans.”
Yolisa Phahle, Multichoice Group’s CEO of general entertainment and connected video, said: “Delivering the tvN channel to millions of viewers on our continent is part of DStv’s commitment to bring the best of the world home.
“DStv customers can now explore South Korean lifestyle through tvN’s dynamic entertainment offering. Through the quality of its rich stories the channel broadens the already extensive range of viewing options we have on DStv for a variety of audiences.”
The new channel will be available to DStv Premium, Compact and Compact Plus customers.
MultiChoice-owned pay TV operator DStv will carry a pan-African lifestyle channel named Honey from February 12.
The launch of the new TV channel is part of MultiChoice’s efforts to offer content that celebrates and explores African lives by focusing on lifestyle, fashion, food, weddings, dating and reality.
The channel will be broadcast in all key African markets including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC, Cameroon and South Africa.
The channel is operated by South African print media company Media24’s television unit, which is also responsible for Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA. Like MultiChoice, Media24 is backed by South African internet group Naspers. Honey will air on DStv channel 173.
MultiChoice Nigeria’s CEO John Ugbe said: “DStv is thrilled to launch Honey. The channel is part of our commitment to keep bringing fresh, authentic, and local content to our Nigerian subscribers. For many years, we’ve seen lifestyle is a popular genre in the country; and now our subscribers will see their own talent, food, celebrations and their families as the well-deserved hero.”
Pan-African networking platform MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) has selected 12 young South Africans to take part in the MTF South Africa Scriptwriting Incubator programme, aimed at finding the next generation of storytellers.
The 12 participants are Florence Rapeu, Khanyani Luhlongwane, Lesedi Phaahla, Lia Mokesi, Melody Ngomane, Nokuphila Dlamini, Nompumelelo Gumede, Pitsi Mohaya, Rebaone Lobelo, Thato Sekhoto, Tshegofatso Nwkane and Thembakuye Madlala.
Set to begin in February, the programme will see the interns mentored by Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon of Tshedza Pictures. The screenwriters are behind International Emmy-nominated telenovela The River as well as SA hits Giyani: Land of Blood, The Republic and Legacy.
Over the course of 12 months, the interns will engage in both virtual and physical sessions of structured learning with the Wits University Film & Television Department and will gain practical workplace experience.
They will also be developed by being integrated into the writing rooms of some of the country’s hottest dramas and telenovelas and by delving into the theoretical components of scriptwriting with Wits University. They will ultimately develop a script for at least one series pilot episode and will have the chance to pitch an idea for a first episode to MultiChoice channels M-Net and Mzansi Magic.
Joe Heshu, group executive for corporate affairs at MultiChoice, said: “We’re rooted in the countries and communities in which we operate and committed to building skills in various fields, but particularly in the television and film industry.
“The MTFza Scriptwriting Incubator aims to unearth the next generation of fiercely creative, committed storytellers and is the next step in entrenching our role as Africa’s most-loved storyteller and helping us take more African stories to the world. We are piloting the programme in South Africa this year, before expanding it into our other three MTF Academies soon”.
The MTF is designed to provide the African creative industry with a platform to learn, develop their talent, engage and connect with each other through their shared passions. It has trained 132 students over the last five years in its academies located in Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa.
Nigerian drama series Tinsel, which began airing in August 2008, reached its 3,000th episode on January 21 on AM Showcase (DStv channel 151).
The show, which has provided both a launchpad for many of Africa’s best-known faces on television and a rebirth for some veterans, will feature a guest appearance by prominent Nigerian comedian Ayo Makun.
It has also reimagined African soap opera, drawing audiences in with its intriguing storyline, which speaks to love, influence and scandal set against the backdrop of the Nigerian film industry.
M-Net West Africa channel director Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “Our local content story cannot be complete without a mention of our flagship soap opera, Tinsel.
“We are indeed happy to hit the 3,000th episode mark of this stellar series. At MultiChoice, we remain committed to growing and promoting local content and talent as we continue to expand the boundaries of African film and television production.
“Tinsel owes its longevity to its amazing cast, stellar directing, multifaceted storyline and high production values.”
Over the years, Tinsel has featured actors including Gideon Okeke, Gbenro Ajibade, Damilola Adegbite, Chris Attoh, Linda Ejiofor-Suleiman, Iretiola Doyle, Victor Olaotan, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi and Yul Edochie.
The drama series won an Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award for the best M-Net original drama series in 2017.
MultiChoice-owned VoD service Showmax has added two pop-up channels that will be available until the end of March.
The addition of kykNET and Mzansi Magic will give Showmax users who don’t have access to the two DStv channels the ability to view them 24 hours a day.
MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment and connected video Yolisa Phahle said: “We’re always looking at ways of making the Showmax experience better for our customers.
“During last year’s lockdown, we gave subscribers access to live news channels. Now, following this month’s presidential address, South Africans will continue to spend more time at home, and so, once again, we’d like to make sure our customers have something extra.”
While Mzansi Magic is exclusive to South Africa, kykNET will be available to subscribers in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The live streams will be available on all Showmax packages including Showmax, Showmax Mobile, Showmax Pro and Showmax Pro Mobile.
Pay TV operator MultiChoice and its flagship channel M-Net have collaborated to create a new version of US reality franchise Real Housewives set in Durban.
The Real Housewives of Durban, based on the NBCUniversal format which originally airing on US cable channel Bravo, is set to debut on 1Magic DStv channel 103 on January 29.
The 14-episode series is produced by Let It Rain Films and will show viewers a glimpse into the glamorous lives of some of Durban’s wealthy ladies who engage in lavish consumption, extravagant lifestyles and dramatic relationships.
Nomsa Philiso, director of local entertainment channels at M-Net, said: “Reality TV has become our most followed genre, not only because it gives viewers authenticity and entertainment, but resonates with their lived experiences as it gives them a glance into a world in which they aspire to live one day.”
The Real Housewives of Durban is coming on the heels of The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, which ran on MultiChoice channels for two seasons from August 2018.
Music reality show Nigerian Idol, the local version of the internationally successful talent show format from Fremantle, will return for a sixth season following five years off air.
The series will air via MultiChoice Nigeria, whose CEO, John Ugbe, said: “Nigeria is at the heart of music excellence and we are excited to announce that Nigerian Idol is officially back, starting with the online auditions.
“For us at MultiChoice, it has always been about talent development and giving our subscribers superior content that they can relate to and engage with. Idols is one show with a track record of producing the most popular music idols around the world, and we are happy to bring season six of Nigerian Idol to your screens.”
Online auditions for the new season have commenced and will close on December 13. Interested persons between the age of 16 and 30 should record a 30-second video singing any song and upload the video here.
Winners from previous seasons include Onyekachi Elizabeth Gilbert Onwuka, Mercy Chinwo, Moses Obi Adigwe, Evelle and K-Peace. Over the years, the show has produced Nigerian stars such as Timi Dakolo and Omawumi.
MultiChoice-owned movie channel Africa Magic has launched a cooking show hosted by Nigerian actor and media personality Nancy Isime.
Jollof With Me is a hybrid cooking show in partnership with global leading hand-wash brand Carex and dishwashing liquid company Morning Fresh.
In the show, Isime invites famous friends over for a meal and fun, light-hearted conversation. It also sees Isime making a cocktail that best describes the guest, who then tastes and rates the drink.
Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, channel director at Africa Magic, said: “It’s the season of celebration despite all that has happened in this interesting year. We all know how important food is during the festivities, and Africa Magic is always looking out for content to keep the subscribers entertained.
“This is why we have partnered with two important brands, Carex and Morning Fresh, to come up with this exciting cooking show to give our audience new cooking techniques while listening to relevant social conversations. Jollof With Me will really keep you entertained.”
MultiChoice-owned African pay TV operator DStv is set to launch a pan-African lifestyle channel called Honey next year.
The channel is operated by South African print media company Media24’s television unit, which is also responsible for Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA. Launching on February 12, it will be available on DStv channel 173 for Compact, Compact Plus and Premium subscribers.
Unscripted channel Honey’s content will be focused on lifestyle, fashion, food, weddings, dating and reality.
The channel will be broadcast in all key African regions. Like MultiChoice, Media24 is backed by South African internet group Naspers.
Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of general entertainment, said: “DStv is thrilled to launch Honey. The channel is part of our commitment to keep bringing fresh, authentic and local content to our African subscribers. For many years, we’ve seen lifestyle is a popular genre on the continent, and now our subscribers will see their own talent, food, celebrations and their families as the well-deserved hero.”
Aletta Alberts, head of content at MultiChoice, added: “Africa’s dynamism and way of life is the perfect ingredient for this exciting channel. Honey is going to add a sweet and sticky flavour to our subscriber offering. Lifestyle content is the ideal vehicle to reflect the continent’s diversity and sameness. Everyone curious about food, style and weddings is in for a treat.”
Izelle Venter, Honey’s channel head, said: “Media24 is delighted to collaborate with MultiChoice on this new adventure. The goal is to combine both companies’ best qualities, experience and knowledge to serve DStv subscribers with a new channel that is familiar, unique and entertaining.”
Zinzi Velelo, Honey’s head of content, added: “We are working with producers across the continent to ensure the lifestyle stories we tell are real and relevant. Our goal is to showcase the characters, talent and dynamics of everyday African life as never before.”
African pay TV giant MultiChoice Group and its flagship channel M-Net are set to launch a new telenovela channel called Novela Magic on the DStv platform.
Set to debut on November 27 at 18.00, the channel will provide African telenovelas and also honour the vast range of cultures and languages on the continent through a diversity of original home-grown stories and local creative talent.
Novela Magic will launch in phases, starting with the Southern African region for subscribers to DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact and Family packages. Titles in the telenovela collection include Nigerian series Unbroken (260×30’), Battleground (410×30’) and Forbidden (260×30’), and Zambian soap Zuba (180×30’), all from MultiChoice Studios.
According to MultiChoice programming executive Nkateko Mabaso, it is the growth and success of local storytelling that has compelled the business to launch an African telenovela channel.
“For over 30 years M-Net has been bringing to audiences across the African continent compelling stories that harness the imagination of our viewers while also showcasing the vast talent that is harboured on the continent,” said Mabaso.
“We want to continue this legacy of showcasing the best African stories with themes that resonate and engage our viewers, hence the launch of this new channel Novela Magic.
“West Africa and Southern Africa are synonymous with telenovela storytelling and these regions will now be able to share their wonderful crafts with other African regions on one channel and stories created in the language of the country of origin will be dubbed into English.”