The Africa Channel (TAC) has named Toyin Awesu-Uhuegbu its new VP of marketing and corporate communications.
She will lead the company’s global marketing, communications and government affairs efforts across TAC’s subsidiary brands.
Awesu-Uhuegbu holds a Master of Science degree in integrated marketing and communications from West Virginia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Temple University. She has held prominent positions including director of communications for the Congressional Black Caucus and was head of marketing and communications at United Capital.
Narendra Reddy, chief operating officer of TAC, said: “We are thrilled to have an accomplished executive like Toyin join The Africa Channel team. Her extensive marketing and communications experience in both the government and the private sector will be instrumental in raising awareness about the important role that TAC and its subsidiaries play in bridging connections between Africa and the rest of the world while introducing audiences to the rich programming and narratives from the continent and the diaspora.”
TAC and its production arm, TAC Studios, showcase English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies and cultural and historical content.
Hausa-language Nigerian family entertainment and lifestyle television channel Arewa24 has announced the launch of a new original drama and film production division.
The move will allow Arewa24 to leverage its own production resources and expertise, the Kano-based company said, as well as look to partner with top creative talent from around the world.
Furthermore, it aims to team up with the global streaming services to develop and produce a slate of scripted narrative programming.
The company, which broadcasts across Nigeria and into other parts of West and North Africa, India and Saudi Arabia, will also tell authentic African stories from Northern Nigeria and West Africa in both the Hausa language and in English.
The new division will be headed by Evans Ejioju, an experienced industry veteran who has been the exec producer on hit political thriller Kwana Casa’in (aka 90 Days) since its first season.
He is joined by Salisu Balabare, the current director of Kwana Casa’in and longtime director of the Dadin Kowa drama series, who will oversee the creative direction of the new division.
Bob Reid, the Emmy-winning former exec producer at Discovery Networks and the former exec VP and programming executive at The Africa Channel in the US, will serve as production consultant and exec producer of Arewa24’s original drama and film productions.
“Arewa24 has been developing some of the finest Nigerian writers, producers, directors, editors and actors since the channel launched eight years ago,” said Arewa24’s CEO Jacob Arback.
“We are now positioned to be a major pan-African producer of scripted, authentic African content – for Nigeria, for Africa and for viewers in the West who are becoming more and more exposed to the unique and compelling stories being told in high-quality dramas and films from the continent.
“Our goal is not just to create ever more popular and successful dramas for our core Hausa-speaking audiences. Some of what we produce might not air first on Arewa24. We plan to create a slate of content that appeals to viewers throughout Africa and the rest of the world.
“The new production division will enable us to tailor content to suit those broader targeted audiences. To do that, we plan to produce authentic African content in English as well as in Hausa and take on more provocative subject matter across a wide range of programme genres.”
The drama series already produced and broadcast by Arewa24 include Dadin Kowa, which is in its 25th season, and Kwana Casa’in, which recently wrapped production on its seventh season.
According to the TV channel, several new original drama series are currently in development and the company will be debuting its first originally produced premier feature film in Q4 of this year.
Arewa24 reaches more than 40 million Hausa speakers in Nigeria and West Africa through its Eutelsat satellite free-to-air channel; on the StarTimes pay TV bouquet; Multichoice pay TV platforms DStv and GOtv; pay TV platform TSTV; and the Canal+ pay TV service in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
International cable and streaming network The Africa Channel has picked up hundreds of Nollywood films from Canal+ Group-owned Nigerian prodco Rok Studios.
The deal was closed by distributor Thema, also part of Canal+, and will include current films and plus hundreds of hours of Nollywood releases from 2015 to 2020.
More than 370 premium titles, including The Secretary, Ovy’s Voice, Picture Perfect, Dear Mummy B and A Woman’s Scorn, will be offered by The Africa Channel in North America and the Caribbean, while most of the content will also be available on SVoD service Demand Africa and free, ad-supported streaming platforms globally.
Narendra Reddy, executive VP and general manager of The Africa Channel, said: “We are delighted to partner with Rok Studios to bring North American audiences this expanded selection of content from Nollywood – the second-largest movie industry in the world. Canal + and Thema TV’s commitment to presenting multicultural content to global audiences aligns with our own, and this is a first step in building an expanded relationship with one of the pre-eminent media companies in the world.”
The Africa Channel and Demand Africa showcase the African continent’s leading English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies, cultural and historical content.
TAC Studios, the production arm of The Africa Channel, has inked content deals with global broadcast and digital networks for several of its lifestyle shows .
The latest companies to have licensed TAC content are OSN and Discovery Networks in the Middle East, Tastemade (US), SBS Food (Australia), Radio Television Brunei, SABC (South Africa) and distributor Fred Media, which is part of the WTFN group.
Thirteen-part series Minjiba Entertains has been picked up by Discovery Networks, SBS Food and Tastemade; 26-parter Africa on a Plate has been acquired by SBS Food; 13-episode cooking series May’s Kitchen has been taken by SBS Food, Radio Television Brunei and OSN; and Amah Knows Best has been picked up by SABC.
Brendan Gabriel, VP of production at TAC Studios, said: “We are delighted by the reception our shows are receiving by leading global networks as the demand for African content continues to increase with international audiences. These licensing deals continue to support our mission to develop and produce content, both scripted and unscripted, that bring Africa, its stories and heritage to global audiences.”
Roger Vanderspikken, chief operating officer at Fred Media, added: “As a leading content licensing company, we are happy to facilitate the distribution of TAC Studios content to global audiences. With an increasing relevance and demand for premium African and multicultural content, TAC Studios is a great partner in enabling us to fulfil this demand.”
TAC has previously struck content agreements with US-based Urban Movie Channel and Emirates Airlines.
Broadcaster The African Channel has been made available in Canada via its subscription streaming platform subsidiary Demand Africa.
The channel offers more than 1,500 hours of premium pan-African series, soaps, movies and lifestyle entertainment.
Already available in more than seven million homes throughout the US and the Caribbean, The African Channel will now be available to users in Canada online and via mobile and connected TV devices.
Demand Africa VP of digital strategy Dean Cates said: “We are thrilled to introduce our multicultural Canadian audiences to The Africa Channel’s unique programming, much of which will be receiving its Canadian premiere on our platform.
“As a global OTT service provider, our goal is to make modern Africa’s influence and culture more accessible throughout the world. In addition, audiences will also have the opportunity to access a vast library of curated programming from the continent on Demand Africa’s subscription VoD service.”
Narendra Reddy, general manager of The Africa Channel, added: “The growth in content consumption through the internet has allowed us to target African diaspora audiences and cultural enthusiasts worldwide who seek well-curated pan-African content that major networks and streaming services consider too niche and are often reluctant to carry.
“We are excited that this trend has also allowed us the opportunity to expand the reach of The Africa Channel, which has been broadcast to US and Caribbean audiences for over 15 years.”
Demand Africa, a division of The Africa Channel, is a global OTT and streaming video service connecting audiences to the best lifestyle, movies and TV from Africa and beyond.
TAC Studios has collaborated with Nigerian, Kenyan, South African and Egyptian production companies to coproduce four new TV series across Africa.
The production arm of US-based The Africa Channel develops, produces and distributes lifestyle content reflecting Africa’s influence on the world
The partnerships are aimed at investing in talent and fostering quality and excellence in media production as well as adding to Africa’s already diverse content.
May’s Kitchen, produced in partnership with Filmedia Productions in Egypt, is a 13-episode cooking series that features celebrity chef May Yacoubi, who introduces viewers to tasty and authentic dishes.
Second Husband is a 10-episode series produced in partnership with Biola Alabi Media in Lagos. It tells the story of a successful Nigerian businesswoman who defies social norms and takes revenge on her cheating husband by bringing another man into her life.
The Yard is a 13-episode drama series coproduced with Currency Media in Kenya, which highlights the story of a struggling hip hop artist who tries to excel in Nairobi’s rap world.
My Design Rules is a 26-episode competition reality series coproduced with Cardova Productions in South Africa. It showcases three interior design duos who compete to transform three empty white-box spaces into designer dream homes.
Brendan Gabriel, Johannesburg-based head of creative and production for TAC Studios, said: “We are really excited to continue to evolve our network of relationships across the continent cementing our studio as a key hub for pan-African content creation. The producers and talent both established and new who we are working with bring an authentic voice to their storytelling and we want to ensure that their stories are now distributed globally and reach vast new audiences.”
Patience Stevens, executive producer at Cardova Productions, said: “We are pleased to work with TAC Studios on our series My Design Rules as a first of many future collaborations, building on our prior relationship with its sister company, The Africa Channel, who has successfully introduced our daily show Expresso Morning Show to audiences in North America and the Caribbean.”
TAC Studios, which acquires content for The Africa Channel and global OTT platform Demand Africa, has produced shows such as Africa on a Plate, Miniiba Entertains and World Wide Nate, which have been distributed to platforms in Africa as well as globally.
The producer of Nigerian movie Lara & the Beat, released in July, is creating a TV spin-off featuring characters from the film.
The TV series will focus on two female characters from the movie, Lara and Dara, in a new story. It will be produced by Biola Alabi and directed by Tosin Coker, the duo behind the movie.
Biola Alabi, CEO of Lagos production company Biola Alabi Media (BAM), said: “We are creating another world around them so we are not just leaving them in the film; we are creating a television series around them.”
Regarding other characters in the movie, she said: “You will see younger versions of them in books and TV series, even in educational formats, so you might be using them for health campaigns.”
Described by BAM as “a coming-of-age movie,” Lara & the Beat follows two sisters caught in a financial scandal around their late parents’ media empire. They are forced out of their privileged bubble and must learn to build their own future and salvage their family’s past.
Former M-Net chief Alabi has also previously produced BAM food/travel series Bukas & Joints, which airs on AIT, Africa Magic and The Africa Channel in the US, as well as the 2017 movie Banana Island Ghost.
Lara & the Beat’s cast includes Chinedu Ikedieze, Bimbo Manuel, Chioma Akpotha, Lala Akindoju and Uche Jombo. Although the release date for the TV spin-off has not been disclosed, it is already in development.