Title: VP, content acquisitions, Pana TV
Mandy Roger leads TV programming and film acquisitions for Pana TV, a new African content-focused video-on-demand service. The former MNet buyer joined the company last year ahead of launch, and has previously worked for the BBC and Disney.
TBI: Tell us about the business, where you operate and what business model you are using.
MR: Pana TV is a global video-on-demand platform that offers a vast collection of premium African entertainment sourced worldwide to create a truly pan-African viewing experience. It was born out of the need to satisfy the yearning to see, feel and know Africa through video content centred around Africa and her myriad of stories. Pana TV’s content is categorised into movies, music, television, lifestyle, educational programming and kids, with the aim to provide an unparalleled online viewing experience that will educate, entertain and enlighten users about Africa.
TBI: What programmes are working best for Pana TV?
MR: Currently we are finding that all our shows are working very well as we cater to a large demographic. The highly acclaimed film, Half of a Yellow Sun, which we were highly proud to acquire, has even been doing phenomenally well for us in the US and is soon to launch exclusively in the UK on Pana TV. Our award-winning series and African films all get a lot of traffic, as do our kids programmes and African fashion shows, which come from across the continent.
TBI: Are there shows that Pana TV doesn’t have that you would love to run on your platforms?
MR: Absolutely, we would love to have some of the phenomenal African films and series out there – 12 Years a Slave and Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, local African countries’ news and current affairs as well as more educational content. We are actively pursuing this type of content and expect to have it on our platform soon.
TBI: What should distributors know about Pana TV before pitching content?
MR: That we are an African content platform, but consider all diaspora as part of Africa, so African-American or Afro-Brazilian content, for example, is still something we would look at as long as it still has strong ties to and represents the continent well. We encourage new partnerships whether it be advertising, sponsorship, content bartering and ad-revenue share deals.
TBI: What types of on-demand rights do you require?
MR: We require all VOD rights whether it be TVOD, SVOD or free VOD, but do take into consideration the producer or distributors’ requests if they do not want the content to be available for free streaming. The majority of content is behind our subscriber pay wall, but we are hoping, through a combination of grants and partnerships, to be able to offer educational content for free.
TBI: What sorts of windows are you buying for?
MR: We buy for both exclusive and non-exclusive windows. For content such as Half of a Yellow Sun and other top quality production we are prepared to pay for that exclusivity, however for the majority of other content we do not believe in warehousing producers rights. Pana TV firmly believes in and encourages the distribution of African content internationally.
TBI: What is the key challenge facing digital buyers in today’s market? Do you expect that to still be the case in 12 months?
MR: The key challenge facing buyers is the sheer number of start-up African VOD platforms emerging and the scramble that all will be making for the same quality content. With a lot of investors who don’t necessarily have the knowledge and experience in the African media market putting money behind these new start ups, bidding wars ensue on top quality content. Over the top licence fees are paid, which then cannot be matched once that cash flow goes down without the required number of new subscribers numbers coming in.
TBI: How will this play out?
MR: I don’t think that this will necessarily be the case in a few months, as the market leaders will start to emerge and smaller start ups will shut down making it a healthy, competitive market place. Companies such as Pana TV with its African content, Iroko with its Nollywood content and a small handful of others will continue successfully.