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Netflix’s top executive team in Africa plans to continue spending on scripted and unscripted content across genres until it unearths the big “Squid Game”-like show that captures global buzz.
According to NBC News, during Tuesday’s “See What’s Next Africa” showcase in Johannesburg, South Africa, the streamer unveiled several African original renewals, some co-production developments, more details around existing projects, and another multi-project output deal with the South Africa filmmaker Mandlakayise Walter Dube for films and series.
Under the partnership, Dube — who directed Netflix’s first commissioned African film “Silverton Siege,” released earlier this year — will direct a variety of Netflix-owned projects. Netflix said it plans to line up further output deals with more African filmmakers.
“In the past, African stories have been told by outsiders,” says Ben Amadasun, director of content in Africa for Netflix, speaking via Zoom from Nigeria. “We want to help local talent bring their stories to the world.”
This investment into the motherland hopes to challenge many of Netflix’s most popular shows for the streaming behemoth’s top spot. According to Games Radar, the most watched Netflix shows of all time include:
1. Squid Game season 1: 1.65 billion hours
2. Stranger Things season 4: 1.26 billion hours
3. Money Heist part 5: 792.2 million hours
4. Bridgerton season 2: 656.2 million hours
5. Bridgerton season 1: 625.5 million hours
6. Money Heist part 4: 619 million hours
7. Stranger Things season 3: 582.1 million hours
8. Lucifer season 5: 569.5 million hours
9. All of Us Are Dead season 1: 560.8 million hours
10. The Witcher season 1: 541 million hours
11. Inventing Anna: 511.9 million hours
12. 13 Reasons Why season 2: 496.1 million hours
13. Ozark season 4: 491.1 million hours
14. The Witcher season 2: 484.3 million hours
15. 13 Reasons Why season 1: 475.6 million hours
Netflix’s investment will highlight many countries in the continent
While South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya remain the three key African content territories for Netflix originals, Ghettuba said the streamer is buying shows from various other countries on the continent, ranging from Ghana and Zimbabwe to Uganda.
“There’s a curiosity across the world about locally-specific shows from Africa — great creative, great stories,” said Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s director of local language series for Africa. “The world wants to know what’s happening in Africa.”
“Our investment in Africa continues to grow and we just continue to do more and more shows,” Ghettuba said. “We believe that Africa is one of the major creative centres for great storytelling that resonates around the world, so it only makes sense for us to increase our investment with our slate, with an even more exciting slate.”
Ghetubba said her ambition is “to ensure that the next big ‘Squid Game’-like show comes from Africa.”
Netflix not alone in African streaming investment
According to the Hollywood Reporter, earlier this year, Amazon signed two major licensing deals with Nigeria’s Inkblot Studios and Anthill Studios, its first agreements with African production companies. Disney+, which plans to launch on the continent this year, starting with South Africa, has greenlighted Kizazi Moto: Generation of Fire, a 10-part animated anthology series, with Cape Town-based animation house Triggerfish, which will feature short films by directors from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Egypt.
At 2021’s Annecy Animation Festival, Disney unveiled the first images for Iwájú, a science-fiction series steeped in Nigeria’s Yoruba culture and produced with pan-African studio Kugali Media. On the live-action side, Disney has already backed Greek Freak, a feature from Nigerian director Akin Omotoso about NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, born in Athens to Nigerian parents.