London — Francophone Africa has access to far fewer online content platforms than its Anglophone equivalent. This week things are about to change with the launch of TV5MONDEPLUS.COM. Russell Southwood asked TV5MONDE's Director-General Yves Bigot how he see the prospects for the platform in Africa.
The idea for TV5MONDEPLUS.COM came out of "a meeting of minds" between Bigot and Melanie Joly, then Canadian Minister of Culture and now Minister of Tourism, Official Languages. It got backing at the highest political level during a French-speaking countries' Heads of State summit in Yerevan, Armenia October 2018, when it was officially announced by French Président Emmanuel Macron and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Government of Canada and La Francophonie are jointly investing US$14.6 million over five years to support the creation of the platform. It will have over 3,000 hours of content from partners such as France Television, RTS, RTB and Télé Quebec, the platform and will aim t compete with American streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime. By the end of 2021 it hopes to have brought together a catalogue of 5,000 hours of content. Although the platform is primarily aimed at French speakers "a majority of programs will have subtitles in English, Arabic and Spanish also".
France Télévisions, Radio-Canada, Télé-Québec, RTSuisse, RTBF Belge, TV5MONDE, TV5 Québéc/Canada, RFI, Radio-France, Public Sénat, La Chaîne Parlementaire, le Collège de France, le Musée de l'Homme all are contributing content to TV5MONDEplus. Highlights include French movies by Eric Rohmer and Arnaud Deplechin and there are others featuring Catherine Deneuve or Gérard Depardieu, TV series from Africa (Wara, exclusive to TV5MONDEplus), Les Pays d'en haut and Unité 9 from Canada, Le Quartier des banques and Anomalia from Switzerland, documentaries, youth programs such as La Petite Pokou, magazines (Les Maternelles d'Afrique, Objectif Monde, Internationales, le Grand cactus) and music concerts from Angélique Kidjo, Tiken Jah Fakoly and the last show from the made by the late Manu Dibango in October 2019, Safari Symphonique.
An average of 15 movies will be offered each month, including titles produced by French-language cinema production and distribution companies such as TF1 International, Films Distribution and Pathé. Viewers will be able to see recent releases as well as French classics.
TV5MONDE has been a long-time producer and production funder in Francophone Africa so it will be more than pleased to hear from African producers about content for the platform:"Of course they are welcome to get in touch. Most of them know us and work with us already as we have been co-producing movies, TV series, documentaries and youth programs in most of French speaking Africa for 10 years already."
Access to the platform is via the apps or via the website, TV5MONDEPLUS.Com. Currently 1,000 downloads have been made on the Google Play Store but TV5Monde Afrique has had 1 million+ downloads and perhaps gives a better sense of future potential in Francophone Africa.
TV5Monde is in discussion with potential partners to make the platform more widely accessible:" We are currently negotiating with different companies who have shown interest". However the barrier of high data prices will remain in the short term:" It is the major problem in Africa but we are told by most players that the cost will be drastically reduced in the next couple of years".