With the Cartoon Network and Boomerang broadcasting in 49 countries across Africa — and consistently ranking at the top for kids’ demographics — Turner is leading the pack for children’s programming on the continent.
This week the company arrived at Discop with Boing Africa, its new kids’ network, which after debuting on pay-TV platforms in South Africa, Nigeria, and the Seychelles, is now available for all pay-TV operators across the continent, in English and French.
The move is an important step toward making “great content available to any operator, and more specifically to any viewer on the continent,” said Pierre Branco, VP and general manager for France, Portugal and Africa, who also announced the launch of Hoolee, the continent’s first pop-up kids’ channel, which will arrive on MultiChoice’s DStv on Dec. 1.
Reaching 11 million viewers every month, Turner has been rated the No. 1 kids’ multiplex in South Africa, solidifying its position with some of the most recognizable cartoon brands.
“People know them,” Branco said. “Some [people] have been growing up with them when they were kids, and now they’re young parents, and they see them again and they can share them with their kids.”
With more than half the population of Africa under the age of 18, kids networks are in a unique position to capture large segments of the population and build brand recognition from an early age.
Perhaps more importantly, they’re able to break across linguistic, geographic and cultural barriers in a way that many entertainment brands can’t.
“Cartoons travel,” said Jaime Ondarza, Turner senior VP and general manager for Southern Europe and Africa. “We can have a great brand proposition in South Africa and have the same position in Nigeria, and it works really well.”
While content travels, though, merchandising — the backbone of kids brands in much of the world — “is still to be developed in Africa in the same way that it is in other markets,” Branco said. “The toys that you have in other places might not be affordable here for a family.”
But audience research in Africa has uncovered other promising — and perhaps more surprising — trends for toons.
According to Turner, roughly 45% of its African audience for the Cartoon Network and Boomerang is over the age of 14.
And while family-viewing in America has declined with the increase in electronic devices in the home — leading to a more fragmented TV-watching experience — Branco noted that it’s still common to find African families gathered around the tube at night.
“We’re happy to see that families are still watching the kids channels together,” he says. “It’s probably a good sign. They remain young.”