Africa’s biggest TV content market returns Nov. 4 to Johannesburg, bringing together buyers, sellers, and producers from more than 85 countries to showcase the rapidly growing marketplace for TV on the continent.

Event organizer Basic Lead expects more than 2,000 delegates to attend the 11th edition of Discop Africa, which takes place from Nov. 4-6 at the Sandton Convention Centre, with attendees looking to tap into a market valued at close to $1 billion — a figure that’s doubled in the past three years, according to the organizer.

This marks the first time that Discop Africa has hosted two markets in the same year. Basic Lead general manager Patrick Zuchowicki says the strong interest in next month’s event, on the heels of June’s market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is proof that Africa needs two markets a year.

“They don’t come because they love us,” he says. “They come because they do business.”

The boom comes at a time of optimism for bizzers across the continent, as growing middle-class auds are spurring a spike in pay-TV revenues, while the coming digital transition is expected to create a raft of opportunities for both producers and consumers.

The big question for attendees in Johannesburg, according to Zuchowicki, is: “How does the continent get together to produce the amount of content that is needed to get that transition rolling?”

The event will host more than 300 international sellers offering a broad slate of films, series, docs, formats, sports programming and children’s content, along with the world’s largest selection of content created in Africa. More than 500 buyers will also be in attendance, including programming and acquisitions execs from a broad spectrum of African distribution platforms, from established pubcasters and pay-TV operators to fast-growing mobile networks and VOD platforms.

Key to this year’s market will be increased efforts to foster cooperation across African borders, which Zuchowicki says, is “crucial” to developing the African marketplace.

The move toward greater collaboration was evident in Abidjan earlier this year, with a number of deals inked between South African and Ivorian companies, while South African pubcaster SABC sold content to France’s Canal Plus for the first time.

“You see more collaborations between French-speaking Africa and English-speaking Africa,” Zuchowicki says. “There is true movement towards being able to do co-productions. It’s a first step in the right direction.”

The Johannesburg market will try to continue that momentum by shining a spotlight on the growing industries in Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania. There will also be a concerted effort to build on the memorandum of understanding between Kenya and South Africa to generate more co-productions.

Regional and national umbrellas will feature sellers from Ivory Coast, Kenya and Nigeria in Africa; France and the European Union; and China, Canada, Russia and Turkey.

The robust international presence, Zuchowicki says, proves many countries are “looking at Africa more aggressively,” with the continent’s largely untapped potential offering an attractive alternative to stagnant markets elsewhere in the world.
“There’s a trend going in the right direction,” he says. “At the end of the day, there’s more content being made in Africa, better content made in Africa … and more producers — big ones — looking into intra-African co-productions.”