On the stage of a stadium in a marine park, the director shouts Action! and the cameras roll when a young woman in a turquoise jumpsuit dances and a sea lion jumps out of a cobalt blue pool and spins in front of her.

This is one of the last scenes recorded for JIVA!

Netflix Inc.

NFLX -0.10

An original series about a talented dancer who realizes that her movement could be her ticket out of the working-class neighbourhood of the South African coastal city of Durban. It is one of many new series that the global giant hopes to introduce to millions of new subscribers on the world’s newest and most dynamic continent.

I told them the story, they liked it, and then they gave the go-ahead. It was like one, two, three, he said.

Busy Ntintilee,

The creator, showrunner and executive producer of the series, whose world premiere is scheduled for 2021 on the streaming channel. This shows that Netflix really knows what they want.


Blood and Water, one of Netflix’s African originals.



Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the last borders in Netflix’s quest to dominate the $100 billion global video streaming market. The 1.1 billion citizens represent a huge untapped opportunity for the company. In January, Netflix announced that it had exceeded 100 million subscribers outside the United States for the first time.

Flows to Africa are expected to grow rapidly. The London-based market research firm Digital TV Research estimates that the number of subscribers in Africa will rise to 13 million by 2025, up from 3.9 million in 2020.

This month Netflix named a Zimbabwean businessman after the…

Masiyawa Street,

Chairman and founder of the Econet Group, an African telecommunications and technology company, on the Board of Directors.

Netflix reports that South Africa, the most developed economy on the continent, more than doubled its pace from January to November compared to the same period in 2019.

To attract the eyes and wallet of Africans, Netflix also invested more in the original African programming; the company refused to comment on the level of expenditure.


JIVA Dance Theatre! First on Netflix in 2021.



Streaming services on the continent pose many problems: Hacking, expensive mobile data and low internet speeds, and poverty. Netflix is still considered expensive by many Africans and in many markets only accepts payments in dollars, limiting it to an elitist audience.

Simon Murray,

TV Digital Research’s lead analyst said Netflix would have to spend more money if it wanted to dominate the continent. Netflix ordered original content from Africa, he said, but made no financial commitment to open its own studio.

The main competitor of Netflix is the Showmax streaming service, a national champion in Johannesburg.

MultiChoice Group Ltd.

which paved the way for the continent, as the original African content accounts for about 40% of Showmax’s views.

Showmax was launched even before Netflix was available on the continent and was the first of two streaming services offering both downloads for offline viewing and downloads of different quality.

Netflix is currently the leader in Africa with just under 2 million subscribers, according to a study by Digital TV. Showmax ranks second with 688,000 direct subscribers, but this figure does not include MultiChoice, DStv’s pay television subscribers for whom Showmax is offered as a free or discounted supplement to certain subscribers. MultiChoice, which grew out of the internet and the media giant last year.

Naspers Ltd.

Africa’s largest company says Showmax and its sister brands GOtv and DStv now have 20.1 million subscribers.

Other international competitors are lagging behind.


According to Digital TV Research, Prime Video has about 100,000 subscribers. Disney+ is not yet available on the continent.

Most markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, including sub-Saharan Africa, are served by Amsterdam-based Netflix, but the company is increasing its local tariffs. Earlier this year the company launched its first original African series, a spy drama called Queen Sono, which has reached the top 10 of Netflix in several countries. After first renewing the series for a second season, Netflix cancelled the series, citing logistical problems related to the pandemic.

Netflix says he travels the continent in search of the best stories and storytellers in Africa and then provides them with the means to make better versions of his series or films. The diversity of languages, tastes, cultures, experiences and moods is also important.

This year, the company announced new creative collaborations for more original content in Nigeria, including the film adaptation of Death and the King’s Rider, a 1986 play by the Nobel Prize-winning author,

Will Soyinka.

Netflix also licenses and acquires locally produced series and films in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Angola.

In order to attract as many subscribers as possible, both Showmax and Netflix aim for a price tipping point that will benefit the consumer.

Netflix is currently testing mobile phone subscriptions in the region, a type of subscription already offered by Showmax. The monthly price in South Africa is 59 South African rand, which corresponds to $ 4.03.

Everyone wants to reach a wider audience and have an impact beyond their own country, Mr. Ntintili said. I know that if people outside South Africa saw young people dancing, they’d go crazy.

Email Alexandra Wexler at [email protected].

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