By Abdi Ali
Published November 2, 2017
The sixth edition of the DISCOP Johannesburg entertainment content market has wrapped up in South Africa.
Some 1506 people from 81 countries, including 37 sub-Saharan African countries, are reported to have participated in the event whose national and regional pavilions hosted delegates from Germany, France, USA, China, Francophone Africa, and the Middle East.
Organisers of the event, Basic Lead, say meetings and business were the overall focus of the three-day DISCOP Johannesburg and that many distribution and co-production deals were reported in market aisles that remained busy October 25-27, 2017.
International buyers were said to have been keen on content ‘Made in Africa’ and non-African content distributors and producers felt more competition coming from African content distributors and producers who are offering content that was ‘more affordable, with better production values, and with dubbed versions in English, French, Portuguese and Kiswahili’ more readily available.
DISCOP Johannesburg 2017 is reported to have seen a 50% jump in the number companies selling “Made In Africa” content in comparison to 2016, with many companies from the Continent–IROKO, AFOREVO, RTI, DIFFA–confirming significant deals.
“During these three days, all signs pointed to intensifying competition between distribution platforms hungry for content. For the first time, sellers had more leverage and ended up with better deals.” says Sheryl Navarro, DISCOP’s Head of Customers Relations. “Competition is also growing between global entertainment brands who dominated the marketplace until now, and home grown content rapidly catching up on quality and cross-border potential.”
A conference and workshop programme dubbed ‘Next Gen’ showcased 35 sessions and 82 international speakers. The programme provided delegates with direct access to information on alternative distribution and funding opportunities on virtual reality content production and co-production opportunities with Francophone Africa and USA.
Basic Lead announced plans to launch two new DISCOP markets; one in Zanzibar aimed at eastern Africa to premiere in 2018 from 11 to 13 July, and another in Lagos to be centered on Nigeria’s entertainment content marketplace, the world’s fastest growing.
“We believe in the ‘regionalisation’ of the sub-Saharan African entertainment market place and our plan to have four markets available by 2019 has been very well received,” said Patrick Zuchowicki, DISCOP General Manager. “Until recently, the sub-Saharan African entertainment content marketplace was dominated by one or two players, and thus negatively impacted by minimal income opportunities and chronic lack of funding for independent producers. Today, competition is intensifying, with massive investments in internet connectivity, a steady migration to digital terrestrial television and significant smart phone adoption, mobile, digital and online content distribution platforms are challenging the dominance of previously dominant operators.”
Saying the Sub-Saharan African marketplace is expected to grow by 35% and become the fastest-growing world region for entertainment content business over the next five years, Zuchowicki said “Studies show that Sub-Saharan African audiences prefer to be entertained by homegrown content. Therefore, Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth in this industry will be driven by (1) original, multiplatform entertainment content produced in Africa; (2) reinforced trade between Sub-Saharan African countries; and (3) intra-regional co-production initiatives. The 10,000+ producers, distributors and programmers expected to comprise the sub-Saharan African entertainment content industry by then, will stay in Africa to develop, acquire, co-produce and distribute homegrown content. To stay relevant in this fast-moving environment, they will need to meet with prospects, production partners, suppliers, existing clients and advertisers as often as possible. In this challenging terrain, Basic Lead has embarked in an expansion plan that will strengthen DISCOP’s leading position, expand the franchise’s reach across Sub-Saharan Africa, and triple market attendance by the end of 2020.”
Adding two new conferences, knowledge transfer and pitching programmes in partnership with major players–DISCORE aimed at musical industry executives seeking to establish stronger relations with the film, television and online content industries–and DISCOMICS aimed at the animation and video game industries–Zuchowicki said, will also help DISCOP expand its footprint of independent entertainment content creators from Africa.