Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of Basic Lead, talks to World Screen about the DISCOP Africa Virtual Market, which will be hosted as a long-form biannual event, specifically centered on Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa.
DISCOP organizer Basic Lead has transformed the way that it helps producers, distributors and buyers communicate and do business. Its DISCOP Africa Virtual Market will now be hosted as a long-form biannual event, specifically centered on Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa.
The first of its 12-week, no-pressure, sales-focused events—which regroups participants as vendors, buyers and co-production influencers—is currently underway. The fall 2020 market kicked off on August 3 and runs until October 23, providing ample time for conversations to take place and deals to get done.
“We decided to do a long-form market so that we can give enough time to the buyers to look at the content, enough time for our team of ‘personal shoppers’ to educate the buyers around the content and so that we have enough time to listen when they have specific requests,” says Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of Basic Lead.
This has led to a structure that has eight weeks for a promotional phase, when the content presented by vendors is showcased online and buyers and co-production influencers can review and select offerings and request DISCOP’s assistance for more information and additional screening privileges.
The last four weeks, the networking phase, is when virtual meetings are arranged, according to time zones and availabilities.
Attendance is free of charge for qualified buyers and co-production influencers, and Basic Lead has come up with new services to offer the buying community that it believes help to deepen the connection. “We decided not to become a super-automated machine; on the contrary, we went back to old-school models where we are establishing with the buyers a different kind of rapport,” Zuchowicki explains. “They can reach out to us and find in our team people who can help them better understand what’s offered, and that then leads to more informed, better-prepared meetings.”
A web/mobile-based app is made available during the networking phase, enabling participants to better engage with each other by allowing them to review the list of attendees and their accompanying profiles; initiate and take part in group discussions; and exchange videos. Through the app, participants can also check the agenda of the Discover virtual series of talks, workshops, pitches and live discussions planned during the market.
“We have spoken to some 60 major broadcasters about what’s going to be the future for them,” says Zuchowicki. “Broadcasters have learned a lot during this pandemic, and one thing is that they want to produce more local content.”
So, alongside a bevy of finished programming, formats are a key focus for content offerings. “Korea is our virtual guest country, and the producers attending from Korea are bringing adaptation rights because they see that as being where there’s real potential,” Zuchowicki says.
The third category of content that DISCOP Africa 100% Virtual caters to is projects in an advanced stage of development. “Most of the buyers are looking for original content that can be produced in Africa,” explains Zuchowicki. “In partnership with public and private organizations funding the production of original content made in Africa, we selected projects that have already identified funding, that are already in a later stage of development, that are being presented by seasoned producers, not just as ideas. These projects today are important to African broadcasters because they can become co-producers. They are looking, slowly but surely, into becoming more involved in the co-production aspect of original content produced in Africa than they ever were in the past.”
There are plans to host a 12-week virtual event again in spring 2021 and another in fall 2021, with DISCOP Africa aiming to serve as more of a sales consultant than a trade-show organizer, Zuchowicki says. “We are trying to understand what our clients, being the distributors, want out of Africa, how we can best service them today and what’s really needed,” he adds. “Most of our clients are hurt, they need real business. We want to help our clients understand how to reach out to the right micro-audiences, B2B, in Africa, whether it’s a company that has a major format and is looking for an advertiser or a VOD platform that is looking for telco operators and a broadcaster to invest money in an original. We have tried to understand much better what buyers and co-production influencers from Africa want. And consequently, we are in a much better position to identify new opportunities and relay specific programming needs to distributors with an eye on the continent.”