For #AfricaMonth we speak to Leslie Adams, sales director at streaming experts Reach Africa about the growing significance of African content.
Recently Netflix announced it will invest R900m in South African-produced content, while MultiChoice plans to increase local content production by 32% YoY, aiming for 50% local content by 2024.
I don't believe there is anything new about the appetite for African content but more a long overdue acknowledgment of the importance and significance of African content.
Viu has really led the charge to bring South African content to the VOD space, while international players such as Netflix recognise the positive business impact it can play in growing its African viewer base. The model of simply importing content is not working as well as creating local African content for an African audience.
It is hugely positive, especially for local content creators, film producers, and African talent as a whole. Much needed funding is finally flowing freely into this space, allowing Africans to tell African stories and distributor streaming platforms exposing both local and international audiences to the rich and diverse stories Africans have to tell.
When we look at the various streaming services available in the African market, the key differentiator in audience size, time spent and audience money invested, all comes down to who has the best African library of content. When you look at the most watched broadcast TV shows in South Africa, 19 of the top 20 shows are all local South African shows. This clearly demonstrates that local African content attracts an African audience.
Content as an investment, globally remains a very high risk business, with massive investment required upfront without any guarantee of success.
This, and many other factors, has led to an endless funnel of remakes, reboots, sequels and extended seasons of both series and movies.
When we look at the long standing strength of the South African soapies, it's easy to see what South African audiences engage with. The prime time soapie audience in South Africa commands a huge audience with programmes like Uzalo reaching over eight million people per episode. The South African prime time audience is highly engaged, loyal, and outperforms the closest international piece of content at a rate of almost 10 to 1.
MutliChoice has long been the leader in all things content in South Africa and on the African continent at large for over 20 years now and the commitment to local content is really a reflection of how well African content performs on its platform.
Nine of the 10 top-performing shows on DStv are all locally produced Mzanzi Magic shows, even outperforming its coveted sports channels. If streaming is the next frontier, African content is the key that unlocks its success.
The industry will experience exponential growth fueled by more and more global South African hits. Leading to more opportunities both in the local and international markets, for every part of the industry.
The race to have the best African content library is on, and every international player looking to enter the African market will need to emulate this formula just to buy a ticket to the race let alone compete. Audience behaviours have already shifted and will continue to do so as more and more consumers move away from appointment viewing to on-demand.
In the US, streaming has already overtaken TV in terms of time spent watching, although Africa may be some way off that mark due to our own challenges, that inevitability is only delayed and a commitment to African content for the African market is really a way of ensuring your competitiveness now into the future.
Streaming providers and all content providers have the challenge of being everything to everyone, and this may lead to various streaming providers looking to either consolidate, bundle or fold entirely as consumer behaviour evolves.
This inevitability means that we are still going to see a lot of innovation in this space.
The key lesson from the success of uBettina Wethu airing on both traditional TV (SABC) and streaming (Viu) is that the need to platform stack is a necessity for both content owners and brands looking to reach that audience in a world where the audience now consumes content on multiple devices.