JOHANNESBURG — Cote Ouest Audiovisual unveiled its new digital strategy at Discop this week, as Africa’s largest indie distributor announced plans to offer new services tailored to VOD and mobile platforms.
“We are facing a very important revolution in the consumption of audiovisual content,” said Bernard Azria, Cote Ouest CEO, as he discussed the company’s plans. “Our business will never be the same.”
Next month, the company will launch MyNina, a VOD app for the Nina TV linear channel it introduced in 2015. It’s also developed three new apps, which it will be launching via third-party operators later this year: YOLO, which packages short-form content produced by the company’s production arm; Nollybest, which will offer a selection of movies from Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry; and Novela Avenue, which will feature Latin American telenovelas from the Cote Ouest catalog.
Finally, the company is developing custom-made “micro” web channels for mobile and web platforms, which it will be selling through third-party operators.
The strategy highlights the ways that traditional players in Africa are adapting to digital and mobile trends, particularly on a continent where more than half the population is under the age of 20. “Their DNA is digital. They’re cutting the cord,” says Olivia Dadie, Cote Ouest’s head of digital. “We have to create content for this type of consumer.”
Founded in Abidjan in 1993, Cote Ouest began as a distributor for American studios in West Africa, and later became the first to bring Latin American telenovelas into the region. It then set out to build the world’s largest catalog of African content, eventually acquiring 12,000 hours of local programming. “Ten years ago, we understood that the mainstream was going to be African content,” said Azria.
As demand for local content grew, the company last year launched a production arm, recognizing the added value it could bring to the supply chain by producing the sort of original, compelling content it has long distributed for other producers.
The digital push is its latest move to keep pace with an African market that is rapidly evolving. “We decided to reinvent our company,” says Azria, explaining that in business, as in life, “either you evolve…or you disappear.”