Africa: Discop 2019 Focuses On Free-to-Air Broadcasters Because They Are Still the Ones Delivering Mass Audiences Despite the Pay TV and Vod Hype, Says Patrick Zuchowicki

6 November 2019

London — DISCOP's founder and CEO Patrick Zuchowicki says that this year's event will be focused on providing profile and business opportunities for Africa's Free-To-Air broadcasters, particularly its public broadcasters. Russell Southwood spoke to him about what he has planned for DISCOP 2019.

Zuchowicki says that there will be 750 attendees at this year's DISCOP. There will be 250 acquisition executives, representing 75-200 platforms and 200 producers from Africa with 50 projects in development:"It's important for us to highlight co-production. It's about going beyond buying and selling".

There will be a strong focus on a key group of countries - UK, Canada, France, Australia - that all have co-production treaties with South Africa:"The focus is on productions that are already partially funded and will have chance to see the light of day".

For the first time in many years, Multichoice will be highly visible with its many different operating arms in attendance including: MNet Studios, Supersport, Showmax and the Multichoice Talent Factory:" They are spending more money on co-productions. They know they are the only ones who can produce to a high level and have series that they can sell all around the world".

Whatever insecurities it may have about the future of Pay TV, there is still no sign of a long-distance competitor who can challenge them. The troubles that have plagued Kwese TV highlight how difficult the challenge is:"I thought it would happen with Kwese but it doesn't seem to have happened".

Zuchowicki wants to see more content produced on the content and to increase the amount of content traded within the continent itself. Recent currency declines against the dollar for almost all African's key markets have made US studio content particularly expensive.

"You're right (about the currency issue) but this is why you'll see more content produced in Africa. You'll see that's what broadcasters want. All over the world FTA broadcasters are losing market share but the only place they still have lot of power is in Africa".

"There will be a big session on exporting content within Africa and then outside. We'll be giving the FTA broadcasters more visibility than ever before and it's important to highlight their services, particularly public broadcasters".

There will be about 20 public broadcasters including SABC and from francophone Africa:"They have a very different view of their future than they have had in a very long time despite their financial difficulties".

He says that most of those attending are looking for opportunities with FTA TV stations but you will also hear announcements about pay TV and SVoD. But there is much more interest in what FTA stations can do. They are still delivering massive audiences in comparison with other players.

But deals are still happening despite these financial difficulties. South African producer Dan Jawitz has got a deal with SABC to produce one of their biggest shows next year, the local adaption of Ugly Betty:"It's an important step in a particular direction. There is more interest in original content and adaptions. The impetus is there from broadcasters and advertisers. These stations deliver audiences. A recent show on SABC got an audience of 10 million".

Making this dream come true is still hampered by the lack of audience measurement:"At MIPCOM I spoke to all the audience measurement companies. If proper audience measurement was in place, you would see how important the FTA broadcasters are and advertisers would spend more money and fuel the industry".

A highlight session will be on eSports:"We've decided to see how we can help video gaming competitions come to the TV screens and become content to bring younger audiences back to TV. We want to see whether it's possible to turn this content into something as big as football."

A personal plug: I will be moderating a session starting a 9am on Thursday 21 November on Content Monetization. Panelists include: Shileola Ibironke, Executive Producer of the first independent telenovela drama series in West Africa, Taste of Love; Benin's Kebo Okio, producer of the comedy series Ting Tang, and entrepreneur with a web radio station and VoD platform; Ife' Odowu, a Nigerian lawyer who leads the Global Rights Management and Ancillary Distribution Team at FilmOne; and Jason Keiles, who recently joined AMDOCS as Vice President Global Content Strategy for Vubiquity. It's a very bright bunch of panelists, all of who are doing interesting things and you're bound to learn something you didn't know before.

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