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African VoD start-up signs Samsung

African subscription VoD start-up Pana TV has signed an exclusive pan-continental carriage deal with electronics giant Samsung and hired a former MNet executive as it gears up for launch this month.

The deal with Samsung will see the Pana TV app – offering original African movies and TV series on-demand – installed on all Samsung smart TVs, mobiles and tablets sold in Africa.

Pana is led by CEO Daniel Ogbonna, a former investment banker, who has hired Mandy Roger to lead the service’s roll-out as chief operating officer.

Roger left MNet, where she was head of sales, acquisitions and business development for 18 months, at the end of April as the South African pay TV broadcaster wound down its in-house international sales operation.

MNet’s formats, including competitive cooking show The Golden Dish and panel show Who Am I?, are now being distributed internationally by Absolutely Independent.

Roger previously spent 15 years in the UK working for the BBC and Disney. She has been working at Pana over the summer to acquire around 5,000 hours of content for the platform prior to launch. A further 6,000 hours are already under consideration.

Pana will be funded through a mixture of subscriptions and advertising, with content on both sides of a pay wall.

It will launch globally in October and already has offices in Nigeria, South Africa and the US, with Ghana, Angola and Kenya to follow. Roger said the aim is to open a UK office by the end of 2014.

Initially skewed 70/30 in favour of acquisitions, Pana intends to quickly develop its own original content so that purchases are kept only to exclusive content focused on sport, fashion and music.

A deal with the African Fashion Industry has already been signed and the company will team up with local prodcos to produce coverage of African Fashion Week at the end of October.

“The problem with African content is you can find a lot of films and series anywhere on Google, so we need to find exclusive, high-quality content to place behind our pay wall,” Roger told C21.

“We will put into place very strategic contracts for top-quality content. What we’re not looking for is mainstream American films with American actors portraying Africans, such as Blood Diamond or Hotel Rwanda.

“We’ll acquire movies more than producing them. With series at the moment we’re acquiring and producing, but we’ll soon be concentrating on producing scripted and unscripted reality shows that are very big in Africa.”


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