DISCOP Joburg Kicks Off with Focus on African Content, Free TV


DISCOP Johannesburg 2019, which is putting African television projects in development front and center, kicked off today (Wednesday, November 20) and will run through Friday, November 22.

In addition to discussing partnerships with South Africa, the animation sector and exporting content produced on the continent, the market is focusing on the important role that free-to-air television stations play in Africa, where 85 percent of audiences still tune in to free TV, according to Patrick Zuchowicki, president of DISCOP. “Over 120 free-to-air television stations, including public broadcasters from 15 African countries, are expected to take part. These public broadcasters will be acknowledged and celebrated for their role as the dominant force in the African market.”

“While the launch of a range of new SVOD services across the continent may dominate discussions, behind streaming’s tech dazzle, the more mundane business of selling content to Africa’s ordinary linear networks is high on DISCOP Johannesburg 2019’s agenda,” Zuchowicki adds.

This year, the DISCOPRO side-bar conference program will feature sessions devoted to content monetization strategies, the animation industry, bringing eSports to TV screens, dubbing, the export of original African content, branded content and how to tackle disinformation. All told, there will be 35 sessions and more than 65 speakers. “We have designed a conference program that is specifically aimed at ad-supported TV channels to help them stay at the top of their game and build stronger ties with local talent, up-and-coming producers and advertisers who still think that linear television is the most powerful ad-medium on the continent,” notes Zuchowicki.

As part of the DISCOPRO program—with the market looking to go beyond content selling and buying—there will be about 50 projects in advanced development being presented and seeking co-production and distribution partners. “All of these projects are of high quality, partly financed and with a delivery date,” says Zuchowicki, who singles out Resolution 418, a TV series project developed by Known Entertainment Associates from South Africa and Gaumont.

Among the sessions Zuchowicki highlights at this year’s DISCOP Joburg is Exporting African Content to the World, which is being presented by The Africa Channel and will feature guest speakers from FOX and Netflix. The session will explore how awareness of local productions can be increased and interest generated from international content distribution platforms the world over.

“DISCOP is more and more involved in promoting original content produced in Africa,” says Zuchowicki. “We have 200-plus independent producers from 24 African countries coming to the market with great projects. What is changing is the quality of the content produced in Africa and its success across the continent.”