MIPTV: Romance Comes to Africa via Round-the-Clock Telenovela Channel


CANNES – Two of Latin America’s powerhouse suppliers of telenovelas have partnered with an African distributor to launch a dedicated channel targeting English-speaking audiences throughout the African continent.

The new service is called Romanza-Africa and was unveiled Monday afternoon in Cannes. Top execs from both Venezuela’s Cisneros Group and Mexico’s Azteca were on hand at MIPTV to tout the deal alongside partner AfricaXP and its founder-CEO, Craig Kelly.

The stand-alone soap channel will be available through AfricaXP’s multiple digital distribution platforms, offering directly to the region's broadcasters a number of the Latin producers’ most popular long-running sudsers. Titles include Catalina and Sebastian from Azteca and Secrets of Love from Cisneros as well as Woman of My Life and Yearning for Your Love.

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Kelly told THR that his company, which is privately held and registered in Mauritius, tries to address the “incredible fragmentation” of the region and bring economies of scale to the business so that broadcast clients can afford high-quality material from abroad.

Within the 54 countries of the continent there are 523 broadcasters, he pointed out. “I know which ones pay, which ones don’t – and what they can afford.” No figures were made available as to the value of the just-announced deal.

AfricaXP already provides a movie channel in Swahili in Tanzania and another in Kenya called Riverwood. It also supplies another general entertainment channel to Nigeria and Ghana. Kelly's first client for the new Latin-flavored soaps channel will be an unspecified digital terrestrial service in East Africa.

“Interest in Africa as a market for TV content is growing. AfricaXP can be a single entry point or gateway into this complicated place because we handle everything from the putting together of series into channels, to marketing, to relationships with broadcasters." Kelly said he was “beginning” discussion with some U.S. suppliers of content as well.

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“With the launch of Romanza-Africa, the telenovela genre will be at the forefront of the many audiovisual entertainment options available in the African market,” said Cesar Diaz, vp Cisneros Media Distribution.

Marcel Vinay, vp international sales at Azteca, said that telenovelas had become “very popular” in Africa and that a dedicated channel would give fans “instant access to a vast library of great content.”

The initial focus of the channel will be on key English-speaking markets such as Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

“Our new cloud uniquely enables us to take our partners’ content, assemble a bespoke channel and then deliver to any African broadcaster quickly and cost-effectively,” Kelly explained.

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