Paris-based channel distributor Thema is enjoying success by going beyond traditional channel representation. Robert Briel spoke with François Thiellet, CEO, Thema, about the success of its Nollywood TV channel and a special Cape Verdian expat channel.
Thema’s Nollywood TV channel brings a selection of Nigerian movies to French homes and is now available on Free and SFR, soon on Orange and Thema hopes before the end of the year on all IPTV and cable operator in France. The channel will be soon available also on French speaking territories in Africa.
“Two years ago we signed a deal with MultiChoice/MNET group for the exclusive French language rights of 750 hours of content from Africa Magic TV,” said Thiellet, who explained that before launching Thema’s first ‘own’ channel all content had to be synced in French,
“This was not an easy task, as there was no international soundtrack, all soundtracks contained the original English language dialogues. So we had to create a new soundtrack, after which we could start. We now have a state-of-the art French spoken version of all the movies.”
Africa Magic TV specialises in films from Nigeria, also known as Nollywood. The country has an incredible output of movies, which gets rarely seen outside the country. Thema decided to invest heavily in creating French versions of all acquired movies.
Last year, Thema was ready to launch the Nollywood TV channel, “and this was the very first time that people in France could watch Nollywood movies. French journalist also discovered what Nollywood is all about.” The channel was first made available on IPTV networks in France and now Thema is ready to roll out the channel across French speaking Africa.”
In France, the channel was an instant success, not only with French speaking Africans living in France, but to a much wider audience. “The channel is now at a turning point, it not only reaches the traditional ethnic audiences, but receives massive interest from all kind of viewers. The channel is doing better than many long-term established French cable channels,” according to Thiellet.
Another project in which Thema invested is the international channel from Cape Verde, a group of island located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa. People from this Portuguese speaking country have spread across the world with many expats now residing in Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Africa and the US.
With Televisao de Cabo Verde (TCV), the local broadcaster, Thiellet agreed to make an international version of the channel to be distributed across the world. “We helped funding in equipment for producing the international version of the channel. We also installed a satellite uplink on the island to distribute the channel to C-band for reception in Europe and Africa.”
After identifying the potential audience for a Cape Verdian channel, Thema agreed to invest in the international channel, at no risk to the broadcaster. In return, Thema gets exclusive rights to the channel for woldwide distribution. The first point of call is distribution in Portugal and France, but the Netherlands and the US might follow.
In France, Thema is not only known for its packing of ethnic channels, but is also active in bundling other channels for operators. One successful example is a German language bouquet, which includes ‘best of RTL’ and ‘best of ProSiebenSat.1’ channels along side other German TV channels in a ‘bouquet allemand’, especially designed for IPTV operators in the country.