The Netflix team that focuses on the Sub-Saharan Africa Region which includes Shola Sanni who leads Public Policy, Mokgadi Seabi who leads Communications and Ben Amadasun who heads up Content Team for the region were recently in Nairobi, Kenya on an exploratory journey to learn, listen and find out more about our Kenya’s creative industry from various industry stakeholders. We grabbed five minutes with him to share with the industry the plan they have for Kenya’s film and TV industry:
Q: Why has Netflix decided to come to Kenya and why now?
The short story is we’re here to listen and learn from the various valued local stakeholders in the Kenyan film industry. As part of our strategy in every market we’ve focused on the world over, we first start by learning more about the industry, how it operates, and identify opportunities for collaboration with local storytellers and stakeholders within the creative industry ecosystem. We’ve done the same in South Africa and Nigeria and, as we have always stated, we’ve had our eye on Kenya and now we want to get know a bit more about the industry – starting with the critical stakeholders like the Kenya Film Commission and others. There will be many other engagements with more stakeholders to come – this is just one of the many firsts. We’re also exploring the many ways we can collaborate with various industry stakeholders in terms of skills enhancement and capacity building to ensure there’s a pipeline of amazing talent in the industry.
Overall, we’re at the beginning of our journey in Africa as a whole – we’re the tip of the iceberg, there are amazing storytellers and content creators in Kenya and the rest of the continent. Ultimately, we want Netflix to be top of the mind for Kenyan creators when it comes to stories they haven’t seen.
Q: How do producers get to know when Netflix is commissioning film or TV projects or calling for partnerships?
We will absolutely let the industry know. At this moment, we’re not yet at that part of our journey in Kenya. Our strategy is still very much focused on South Africa and Nigeria but while we’re there – we want to start getting a better understanding of the Kenyan market before we can fully-focus on the industry in terms of commissioned content. For now, the plan is to keep looking for great quality titles from Kenya to license and I would advise any content creator who has a viable title to approach us via a distribution or aggregator company who often understand the technical specificity required to get a title onto our platform. We work with many distributors across the continent and have good relationships with many as we continue to grow our content slate. For example, there’s Golden Effects, Blue Pictures, Film One, Trace East Africa/Global, Okada Media and others while in Southern Africa, there are distributors like Indegenous Films, AAA entertainment, Gravelroad and others – it’s a simple matter of researching the companies and choosing the one you’re happy to work with. Most countries have local film authorities like the KFC have information on distributors. When we’re positioning to start commissioning content – we make sure the market is fully aware and so unfortunately, now is not the time to pitch any content.
Q: Who are the commissioning agents for Netflix in Kenya?
We don’t have ‘commissioning agents’ anywhere in Africa – that’s not how we work. All original content is commissioned by an internal Netflix team.
Q: What determines the remuneration for Netflix Originals; Partnership in production; Purchase of finished products?
There are a lot of factors that go into our deal structures – but what you should know is each agreement is different therefore there’s no specific terms or duration for all. We also do all types of deals with our content creators and production partners. These range from commissioned projects, to co-productions and limited term licenses. We’re often able to provide our partners with more value through exclusive arrangements as it gives them a guaranteed return on their creations and enables them to make even more content. We are ultimately open to any deal structures that are mutually beneficial.
Q: What plans does Netflix have to make accessibility to the platform easier and affordable?
We believe that all our plans are great value for money – depending on the number of screens, types of devices and quality members want. A month ago we introduced the Mobile only pricing plan in Kenya that cost only Kshs. 300. Ultimately, we wanted to give members in Kenya the ability to choose what plan will best serve their requirements. The mobile plan might best fit members who want to watch Netflix only on smartphones, since we see that a lot of people already use the phone as the main way to access the internet and entertainment. For other exciting innovations, keep your eyes on this space on your Netflix for further innovative improvements!