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.