Thecla Mbongue, senior research analyst for Informa Telecoms and Media Group believes that there is substantial demand for local content - both from within Africa and from diaspora communities - currently unmet, with only MultiChoice attempting to provide such content for viewers.
Mbongue told attendees at the Digital TV Summit today that broadcasters should be pushing to offer more African content, and that more notice should be taken of the French speaking nations.
“It is difficult to talk about African content without talking about MultiChoice,” said Mbongue, adding: “They have been working hard on African content over recent years.”
The research analyst made particular mention of MultiChoice’s Africa Magic channels, which have proven very popular with viewers, however, she noted no channel has been launched for French-speaking viewers.
“I think there is a lot to be done in the francophone regions of Africa,” Mbongue advised.
She went on to discuss the popular characteristics of local content, highlighting that both Africa-based and diaspora viewers like to be able to relate to the content and be provided with topics for discussion.
“Local content does not mean people talking about their history... What viewers want is to see themselves, to identify,” said Mbongue.
She considered the success of the local Nigerian television and film industry - often referred to as “Nollywood” - and noted that although the content is “not great quality”, it is very popular with viewers because people are able to identify with the actors and actresses, and enjoy discussing every-day topics such as what the actors wear, for example.
Turning to the content specifically catering to diaspora viewers, Mbongue believes there is room for more offerings; with only a few local channels available on mainstream platforms in the United Kingdom, and France, for example.
Mbongue highlighted the success of “le Bouquet Africain” channel package, available in France over a number of networks since the end of 2008. The package of African channels has enjoyed huge popularity with more than 120,000 households subscribing by the end of 2011.