CANNES – Aiming to play a larger role in Africa’s booming market, Orange Digital Ventures, a banner owned by French telco group Orange, has come on board to fund Afrostream, an SVOD platform showcasing African, African-American and African-Caribbean films and TV series.
Orange’s involvement in Afrostream will allow the streaming service to fast-track its development in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and South America, as well as benefit from Orange’s expertise in networks, distribution and payment.
Orange, which is already present in Africa as well as in European countries with large African diaspora populations, is looking to strengthen its position in Africa where rival pay TV group Canal Plus is also present.
Pierre Louette, Orange deputy CEO and president of Orange Digital Ventures, said the “investment (in Afrostream) will allow the company to cultivate (its) respective expertise to better address the burgeoning VOD market, particularly in Africa.”
“The future of television is mobile. With this strategic investment from Orange, Afrostream now brings together the best of the mobile internet and the best of African content,” said Tonjé Bakang, Afrostream CEO.
“African American movies and series keep punching high numbers but they are seldom distributed overseas, which is an anomaly considering that the community of Africans and Afro descendants represents 1.2 billion people around the world, so our goal is to fill that void,” argued Bakang.
“In the next 10 years, smartphones are going to become the first window there. Orange is currently the biggest telco operator in Africa and they’re about to launch 4G in the territory so establishing a solid basis and investing in content there is key,” explained Bakang, also adding that 60% of the African population is under 18 years old and many of them belong to the middle class.
Although the primary target audience remains Black viewers, Afrostream aims at showcasing premium content that can cross over to general auds.
The SVOD service has already acquired Tyler Perry’s “For Better or Worse” and Sky Living’s “Venus vs. Mars,” among other shows .
Bakang said he expects to launch Afrostream in the U.K. and English-speaking territories including Nigeria, Kenya and Gana. He also cited Brazil as a promising market for Afrostream.
Afrostream is backed by Orange Fab France and Y Combinator, seed accelerator of Silicon Valley. The SVOD service is also financed by TheFamily, Cross Culture Ventures I L.P. and ACE & Company.
The Afrostream SVOD platform is priced at $8 per month and $70 per year.
The Afrostream transactional VOD service is already available on all connected screens in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, Senegal as well as the Ivory Coast. It features programming for the entire family and includes cartoons, concerts and documentaries, in addition to films and TV series.