Queen Sono, Netflix’s first script-to-screen African original production, is being renewed for a second season based on the success of the first season.
The spy drama led by South African writer/director Kagiso Lediga, starring Pearl Thusi and an all African cast was extremely well received by its African and global audience including black diaspora with high viewership rankings in Africa, the Caribbean and beyond. In its week of launch in late February, it was the seventh most watched show in the United States, Netflix’s biggest market.
Queen Sono is a significant milestone in African film and TV producers tapping into Netflix’s $15 billion original production budget. With revenues from streaming platforms expected to exceed $1 billion in sub-Saharan Africa by 2024 (up from the 2018 figure of $223 million) and Netflix expected to attract 39% of subscribers in the region, local content could be the game-changer. Currently, only a tiny proportion of Netflix’s 183 million subscribers are in Africa and this is likely to be a strong growth market for Netflix.
“The first season of Queen Sono marked the beginning of our journey to introduce the world to exciting stories that are made in Africa,” says Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Original Series at Netflix.
The story of Queen Sono takes the viewer on a journey of political power struggle, romance, action and intrigue. The first season introduced the troubled spy, Queen Sono, haunted by the assassination of her mother, a famous anti-apartheid campaigner. The second season will see Queen Sono search for the truth as her newfound need for revenge takes her on a mission across Africa. All this while she deals with her family’s past and her complicated love life.
Netflix will soon debut another African original globally, Blood & Water—a young adult drama series set in Cape Town, South Africa. The company also previously announced its first Nigerian original series by acclaimed Nigerian director, Akin Omotoso as well as an animated project, Mama K’s Team Four, a children’s animated series from Zambia.
African producers who’ve spoken with Netflix executives say it has one eye on the African diaspora around the world as their data shows African movies and new TV series are being watched globally.
Netflix added more than 15.8 million subscribers around the world in the first quarter as more people stayed home due to coronavirus lockdowns and precautions. African industry watchers say there’s increasing anecdotal evidence Netflix is winning subscribers across Africa. The numbers are still thought to be relatively small because Netflix does not yet break out Africa from its Europe, Middle East and Africa region where it added nearly 7 million subscribers.
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