Netflix is finally investing in original African content

Coming soon: New original series from Africa.
Coming soon: New original series from Africa.
Image: AP Photo/Christophe Ena
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African subscribers of Netflix will soon have more local options of shows to watch.

The global streaming giant has confirmed plans to order original series from Africa next year to add to its ever-growing roster, Variety reports. At last week’s Content London conference, Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, said the company is “in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa” and will “definitely” commission series from Africa in 2019.

The move is part of Netflix’s plans to make its content library as diverse as its global audience. The company is looking to provide users outside the US and Europe with original content featuring their local stars. This year marked the debut of Sacred Games, Netflix’s first original show from India, and the company has six more original shows from India either planned or in production.

As Netflix diversifies its content library, Barmack predicted at the conference that within years, “half of the top 10 most-watched shows in a given year are going to come from outside of the US.”

Even a snip of Netflix’s $8 billion original production budget will be a boon for local creators across Africa, who often have difficulty funding their projects. Netflix’s originals will be competing for eyeballs with MultiChoice, the South African cable TV provider, which has poured millions into original productions in African markets through its Africa Magic channel. But it’s a fight Netflix seems geared up for, having already kicked off ad campaigns targeting the cable giant, which dominates much of Africa’s Anglophone market.

While it shops for original series to commission across Africa, Netflix has began paying close attention to Nigeria’s Nollywood, the world’s second-biggest movie industry by volume. Netflix purchased rights to Lionheart, its first original Nigerian film, in September.

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