[PARTNER CONTENT] Five years ago, South Africa’s TV choices were rather limited – if you could call linear, pay TV and video on demand (VoD) meagre offerings. The arrival of streaming services, mobile growth and easier access to broadband has introduced a wealth of broadcasters, channels and viewing platforms to choose from.
Yet, while the landscape has changed inexorably, one certainty remains: South African viewers have a distinct preference for local content.
Five years ago, when A+E Networks first opened an office in Johannesburg, the History Channel had been running on DStv since 2003, and Crime + Investigation from 2007, and were household names. Lifetime, a relatively new contender, entered the local market in 2014, becoming available on DStv’s Compact Plus package in 2019.
The partnership between DStv and A+E has led to a number of successful local adaptations of global franchises, such as Pawn Stars South Africa, Four Weddings South Africa and Married at First Sight South Africa. Local audiences were also treated to innovative programming, such as pop-up channels History of Football (a 14-day, 24/7, global TV first that pre-empted the 2018 FIFA World Cup) and 100 Years of War, as well as the digital VoD, History Vault.
A+E’s groundbreaking, compelling docu-series have also made a strong impact on local audiences. Hard hitting exposés such as Surviving R Kelly, which documented the R&B singer’s abuse of young girls, ignited global conversation around the issue – and led to him finally facing justice.
Commitment to captivating stories
Now, A+E is on a mission to fast track its commitment to telling captivating stories that resonate with its audiences, with a growing investment into local productions.
The strategy was propelled by the success of the History Channel’s 2013 release, Miracle Rising, which detailed the epic legacy of South Africa’s political transformation. “It was an incredible piece of programming that went across our networks, right across the world. It gave us the confidence to think about local programming,” says Dean Possenniskie, A + E Networks’ managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Head of programming and scheduling for Africa, Fatime Kaba, says she is excited about this next phase of the programming strategy, “which will speak specifically and closely to our local audiences and see us partner with the best and brightest African producers and talent”.
With R30 million invested in local productions – and further investment on the cards – A+E has established strategic partnerships with local media players and production companies, and has an exciting line-up of truly South African stories to share.
New offerings viewers can look forward to include an upcoming local crime series, a wedding reality show on Lifetime and a brand new special on History, Your People My People, that will see four strangers venture on a quest to discover their true origins, based on the results of their DNA tests.
True-life stories, entertaining features, reality TV with a twist – South African audiences are in for some compelling storytelling.
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