Future of SA’s TV entertainment lies with our creatives
Stories are fundamental to our human experience. It is through telling stories that we are able to get to know each other at a deeper level, to connect and communicate. M-Net has focused its efforts on sharing powerful stories for Africans, by Africans, because we understand the importance of unique, home-grown content. Our vision is to create the best television entertainment in Africa and beyond. This starts in our own back yard, where we are developing talent to help us shape accessible content that speaks to our African heritage.
As we celebrate M-Net’s 30th birthday, we can look back proudly on our entertainment history as Africa’s pay TV pioneers.
But now our industry is at a crossroads. Video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon and other content providers are making their presence felt here and globally. Our viewers have more choice than ever before, not only in what TV programmes they consume, but even in whether they choose to watch these programmes on TV. This as computer gaming draws in ever more players, and smart devices – such as set-top boxes, internetenabled TVs and digital media devices – make it easier for viewers to stream the content they prefer watching.
It must be said that the providers of new set-top box content are finding it difficult to attract customers without spending a significant amount of money on content. This paves the way for TV and video entertainment to undergo a radical change.
While the industry is bursting at the seams with new and unexpected competitors, M-Net is confident of its ability to maintain its position as the market leader in Africa. We know what entertains people, and we are courageous and creative enough to try new things. We take the road less travelled to tell new stories and unearth new ways to deliver the best content – and we will use cutting-edge technology to entertain our customers wherever they are.
On a trip to Kenya, I switched on the TV in my hotel room and was confused to see that prime-time programming consisted of badly dubbed Mexican and Brazilian telenovelas. They were not Kenyan, nor were they African, yet this genre had taken the country by storm. So, we tried the telenovela format in South Africa and Nigeria, and found it to be immensely popular as telenovelas reinterpret universal themes we can all identify with.
The key to creating timeless content is thinking about the future. Accordingly, we have put a few initiatives in place to develop authentic local content. One of these is the M-Net Magic in Motion Academy, which started in 2014. It serves as a platform to develop local stories and expose graduates to the range of career opportunities within the industry.
The academy is designed to bridge the gap between theory and practical implementation to ensure that interns go on to become highly employable professionals. Of the first class of graduates, Vuyisile Mark Madai is now working at Carte Blanche; Skye Mgudu is with Shark Tank; and Mbalizethu Zulu joined Isibaya.
Over 30 years, we have shared many memorable moments with our viewers, notably the 1995 rugby World Cup final, where our first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, took bold steps to unify a fractured country through sport. There was the day KTV hit the screen and finally gave parents a chance to sleep in on Saturday mornings. And, there have been countless occasions when our tenacious Carte Blanche investigative team cracked open some of the most important stories of our time.
Ultimately, we are in the business of storytelling. We employ people with vivid imaginations to create stories that make us laugh, cry or rage – this is how we feel alive and connected to one another. As we continue to invest substantially in developing African content, we will persevere to put our customers at the forefront of our innovations for the next 30 years and beyond.
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