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Discop Africa TV Market Kicks Off With All Eyes on African Biz Boom

Local content, co-prods king at Discop Africa, the continent’s biggest market

Regional co-productions, emerging VOD players, and spirited competition among pay-TV platforms will all be on the agenda as Africa’s largest TV content market returns to Johannesburg Oct. 25-27 for the latest edition of Discop Africa.

Business event organizers Basic Lead expect more than 1,200 buyers, sellers and producers from 70-plus countries to descend on the Sandton Convention Center, where more than 10,000 hours of original programming will be on offer in what Basic Lead general manager Patrick Zuchowicki describes as “the largest contingent of content made in Africa under one roof.”

The confirmed turnout, which has already outpaced last year’s edition, underscores a growing confidence that local content will be a driving force in Africa’s bullish TV sector. “Content made in Africa is really king,” says Zuchowicki. “It’s affordable, it’s…creative, and it’s really what’s going to become the central point of the show.”

While recession has hobbled the continent’s two biggest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, for much of the past year, forecasts predict continued growth for Africa’s entertainment marketplace.

According to digital-economy think tank IDATE, the sub-Saharan market will expand by 30% in the next five years, with pay-TV subscriber bases expected to nearly double and a growing number of OTT services capitalizing on Internet penetration in even the most remote corners of the continent. They predict the marketplace will deliver nearly $10 billion in consumer revenue by 2021.

Discop will also highlight the growing range of distribution platforms transforming the African market, drawing programming and acquisition execs from more than 130 public and commercial broadcasters, pay-TV operators, satcasters, mobile networks and VOD platforms.

Running parallel to the market is the Next Gen program, which will host more than 80 industry experts leading discussions and workshops on hot-button topics expected to drive the agenda in African content in the next year.

Sessions will focus on tapping the potential of virtual reality in Africa; boosting ties and co-production opportunities between French- and English-speaking countries; and exploiting the boom in VOD platforms that are disrupting how content is delivered across Africa and the rest of the world.

Organizers will also hope to build on the momentum of a dynamic and rapidly growing African animation sector with a number of events tailored to kids’ content. Highlights include the launch of the FupiToons Film Festival, described as the continent’s “first ‘made in Africa’ animated film festival aimed at kids”; a roundtable discussion, led by Turner’s Ariane Suveg, on how to develop local animated content through partnerships with international brands; and the final round of Annecy – MIFA Pitches Animation du Monde, a pan-African pitching competition organized by the Annecy Int’l. Animated Film Festival and Market, Discop, and the African Animation Network.

Finally, this year’s edition will shine a spotlight on Ethiopia, exploring why a rapidly growing middle class, and a population of 100 million-plus, make it one of the most dynamic and promising young TV markets on the continent. And guest country Germany arrives with a delegation that will showcase its ongoing support for African content, while also celebrating its 2004 co-production treaty with South Africa.

After introducing a second market in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in 2016, Basic Lead has unveiled plans to launch additional markets in Lagos and Zanzibar by 2019, turning what was once an annual gathering into a quarterly affair.

The move will expand Discop’s reach across the continent, with Zanzibar tapped to anchor East African trade; Abidjan serving as a gateway to Francophone West Africa; and Lagos focusing primarily on Nigeria, which PricewaterhouseCoopers recently predicted would have the world’s fastest-growing entertainment market in the next five years.

It also underscores what Zuchowicki describes as a trend toward regionalization in the African TV sector. “The growth will come from each of those regions, and from business between those regions,” he says. “They need their own market.”

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