27 September 2011

Kenya: One Man's Bid to Provide High Quality TV Content

Frenchman Patrick Jucaud believes viewers should get the best of entertainment... for that is the primary reason for watching television.

But this is not possible in all cases, as often operators find themselves in tight spots balancing between highly priced content and the need to meet their obligations to offer viewers the best.

It is for this reason that Mr Jucaud, founding manager of Basic Lead, a company with bases in Paris and Los Angeles, set out on a mission of ensuring that such a balance is achievable by offering content at fair prices.

Founded in 1991, the company organises geographically focused television content markets known as Discop, where content buyers and sellers meet and explore opportunities in the business of entertainment content.

Before this, Mr Jucaud dealt in discounted television programmes in the old Soviet Union.

"Twenty years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, I decided to organise a market for ex-Soviet satellite republics specialised in discounted programmes (Discop), considering the lack of funding at the time," said Mr Jucaud.

Content sellers refer to suppliers of film, finished programmes, formats, live events and packaged TV channels while buyers are programming executives, television operators, agents, home video distributors and content brokers, among others.

Discop has since become an event that players in the global entertainment industry would not want to miss.

Its rapid expansion has seen the event divided into three regional markets comprising Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, which also includes Middle East, and Africa.

A month ago, a Discop Africa conference was held in Nairobi for the third time, bringing together 400 visitors from all over the world.

It targeted both Kenyan consumers and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa at prices between $200 and $500, depending on the nature of content.

According to Mr Jucaud, the African edition is particularly important in ensuring that consumers can negotiate for fair content prices as well as get exposed to relevant content.

"We have been very keen on the African market since 2008 when we held the first conference in Africa.

Next year we hope to reach a deal where African countries can buy sports content at fair prices as these have remained above the reach of most consumers," he said.

The impact on the market has gone beyond gains to content buyers and sellers. Judging by its annual growth, Mr Jucaud's initiative is evidence of vast business opportunities in the entertainment sector.

"It is also an avenue for a country's tourism industry to thrive. Guests attending the conference take time off to visit other places and spend money on hotels and restaurants within that country," he said.

In a year, the conference raises about Sh133 million mainly from registration fees. It is estimated to have been growing annually at a rate of 20 per cent.

The secret has been developing expertise in the organisation of television content markets targeting developing and emerging countries.

The just ended conference brought together 198 firms, including 76 African and international companies out to sell films, TV series, TV formats, sports content and thematic channels.

With the expansion of the market came its share of challenges. For the first 10 years, Discop markets had no Internet and mobile phone connections.

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