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Discop Africa TV Market Wraps Positively Despite Economic Slowdown

JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s largest TV content market wrapped Nov. 4 with what organizers say was a marked increase in the number of African producers and distribs looking to do business.

“All of a sudden…it’s an open market,” says Patrick Zuchowicki, CEO of event organizer Basic Lead. “The general consensus is that…non-African clients felt the heat of the competition from those companies selling African content.”

“And that for us is very important, because it shows that African content is king,” he adds.

For the first time since its founding in 2008, Discop added a second market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, earlier this year, fueled by what Zuchowicki says is a strong demand to tap into what Basic Lead estimates to be a $1 billion-a-year industry.

The market in Johannesburg this year partnered with the inaugural edition of the Joburg Film Festival, an international film fest which ran Oct. 28 – Nov. 5, in order to highlight the range of content Africa has to offer.

Basic Lead recorded 742 companies in attendance at Discop this year, up from 637 in 2015. African producers turned out in droves, with 267 production companies from across the continent, up from 193 a year ago.

This year also saw a strong presence from African distribution platforms, with 218 broadcasters, telcos and content aggregators from across the continent in attendance.

This in spite of what Zuchowicki describes as a “difficult year” for the continent, noting in particular the steep declines in the South African rand and the Nigerian naira, slowing prospects in the continent’s two biggest economies.

“It’s not a great economic context,” says Zuchowicki. “So despite that, there is traction and affordable, quality content produced locally.”

Andrea DaSilva, of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, which was part of a large American delegation representing the U.S. as the guest country this year, describes the market as “a really eye-opening and exciting experience.”

“We’re seeing really dynamic opportunities in the joint ventures particularly, and crews that want to come over and take advantage of the film tax credit incentives, tapping into a professional product market, beautiful locations, and just the general high spirit that’s here,” she says.

“We’re really excited to come back next year [and] make it bigger and better,” she adds.

Moving forward, Zuchowicki is in talks to bring more foreign buyers to the market, hoping that the likes of Amazon and Netflix will offer new platforms for African producers to tap into the global marketplace.

“That’s our next objective, to emphasize the development aspect,” he says, in order “to develop the opportunities that exist on this continent.”

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