Meetings and business drive content ‘Made in Africa’ at DISCOP Johannesburg

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The sixth edition of the DISCOP Johannesburg entertainment content market wrapped
up last Friday with a record 1 464 attendees from 81 countries including 37 Sub-
Saharan African nations. National and regional pavilions hosted delegates from
Germany – this year’s Guest Country, France, the USA, China, Francophone Africa, and
the Middle East.

Meetings and business were overall focus of DISCOP Johannesburg, and many
distribution and co-production deals were reported in market aisles that remained
busy until the very end. This year, international buyers who were in attendance were
very, very serious about looking at 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 is more affordable, with
better production values, and with dubbed versions in English, French, Portuguese and
Swahili more readily available.

In fact, DISCOP Johannesburg 2017 saw a 50 per cent jump in the number companies
selling content “Made In Africa” in comparison to last year, 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, who adds, “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 robust and well attended 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; virtual reality content production, co-production opportunities with
Francophone Africa and the USA, and many other subjects.

Organisers announced strategic plans to launch two new DISCOP markets, one in
Zanzibar aimed at Eastern Africa to premiere in 2018 from 11 to 13 July, and one in
Lagos to be centered on Nigeria’s entertainment content marketplace, the world’s
fastest growing. DISCOP general manager Patrick Zuchowicki discusses what to look
out for next year, “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. 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.

As a direct consequence, and within the next five years, the Sub-Saharan African
marketplace is expected to grow by 35 per cent and become the fastest-growing
world region for entertainment content business. 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, multi-platform
entertainment content produced in Africa; (2) reinforced trade between Sub-Saharan
African countries; and (3) inter-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 conference, 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 – will also help us expand our footprint of independent entertainment
content creators from Africa.”

Additionally, he goes on to explain that, “In Johannesburg and in Abidjan a few
months ago, a consensus emerged among attendees who stressed the importance of
developing stronger regional ties. Therefore, we are embarking on a two-year plan
that will strengthen DISCOP’s leading position on the continent, deepen the market’s
reach into strategic Sub-Saharan African regions and expand our reach across
converging entertainment content sectors.’

In a move to also expand their reach across converging entertainment content
sectors, organisers also unveiled two new conference, knowledge-transfer and
pitching programmes to run parallel to each one the DISCOP markets. DISCORE, a
programme bringing together the worlds of music and film, television and online
content production; and DISCOMICS, a programme aimed at the animation, video
game and comic book publishing sectors.

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