Macro- and micro- trends in African demand for series in Q1 2021

22 April, 2021

Africa is an increasingly important region for television entertainment. A fast-growing and increasingly well-connected population is hungry for entertainment and producers both local and international are stepping up to supply that demand with local content.

Whether your interest in the continent is as a producer, distributor, financer, or global OTT, you need to know what these audiences are demanding to best supply them – or risk losing out to someone with a better view on the region.

To shed some light on current trends, we reveal which titles are currently successful across Africa at a market level. In any analysis, it is important to remember that the continental scale of Africa means that a diverse range of audience tastes lies within. Relying solely on Africa-wide trends risks losing this vital nuance.

To illustrate the differences in audience preferences across Africa, we also focus in depth on three important and different markets – Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt - using genre and subgenre data to showcase how local tastes vary from the wider continent.

Finally, content buyers and distributors outside of Africa should be keeping a close eye on content coming out of the region. After all, the next global success could come from anywhere! For this reason, we have uncovered some insights about the African series currently performing strongly both within the continent and globally.

What titles dominated Africa in 2021 Q1?

  • Looking at the most demanded series in eight African markets, we can see how regional trends are represented.
  • Demonstrating the subregion’s enthusiasm for anime, in North African markets the most in-demand series in Q1 2021 is Japanese animated series Attack On Titan. The exception to this is Tunisia, where Turkish drama series Söz had most demand and Attack On Titan ranked second.
  • Audiences in the West African nations are fond of US crime dramas. In Ghana, the quarter's most demanded series is The Blacklist, followed by Power spinoff Power Book II: Ghost. These series also rank highly in Nigeria this quarter, but Disney+'s WandaVision captured the most overall demand.
  • In East Africa, for Kenyan audiences wrestling is king with WWE Monday Night Raw the most in-demand series for 2021 Q1. Interestingly, anime is notably absent in this market with no anime series in this quarter’s Kenyan top ten series.
  • Southern Africa is the strongest region for the Disney+ streaming service. South Africa is the only one of these markets where two Disney+ originals are in the quarter's top ten. WandaVision takes most demanded series for 2021 Q1, with The Mandalorian also ranking highly. Demand here is high despite Disney+ not being available in the region, with no release date announced yet. This represents an opportunity: Disney could take inspiration from their own agreement with OSN in the Middle East North Africa and distribute through a local service to monetize this audience attention faster.

What African titles are capturing local audiences?

  • This shows the African-made series that have the highest average demand across Africa over Q1 2021.
  • This quarter's success stories in African content are mostly Egyptian and South African series. The lone exception is Nigerian reality show Big Brother Naija.
  • The most in-demand series is Egyptian crime drama Every Week Has A Friday, which is 7.1 times more in demand than the average series in Africa.
  • Genre-wise, this list showcases the breadth of African production. Series from the drama, comedy, children’s, reality and soap opera genres are all represented.

Which African series are already breaking out globally?

  • While this report is focused on trends inside Africa, investment in African series production is increasing. One of the major goals of the modern entertainment industry is making content that resonates with audiences around the globe.
  • This chart shows the series that had the highest demand with global audiences during 2021 Q1
  • The dominance of Egyptian and South African series is even stronger here.
  • Egyptian content has a natural advantage beyond Africa as the market has close cultural and linguistic ties with markets in the Middle East region.
  • South Africa already has one of strongest TV industries on the continent. In addition, global platform Netflix invested in South African content in 2020. This strategy appears to already be paying off as two of these shows are South African Netflix originals.
  • Interestingly, the top two series for global demand are both children's series from South Africa. This reflects the fact that while their perspective may be African, children's content can have very universal themes.

We will now take an in-depth look at trends in three of the most important markets in Africa: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt

Market trends: Nigeria

Quick summary: Nigeria is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, projected to reach 400 million inhabitants in 2050. The young population here is boosting demand for children’s series compared to the African average, but audiences here show lower-than-usual interest in drama series.

Which genres are Nigerian audiences demanding? (all titles)

  • Nigerian audience express high demand for children's series. The 14.0% demand share for this genre is the highest in the region. The most demanded children's series for this quarter is PJ Masks.
  • Nigeria also has strong demand for variety series. The genre's 5.9% demand share here is an impressive +3.7% more than the Africa average. The quarter’s most in demand title in this genre is the American late night talk show The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.
  • Demand for series in the drama genre is the lowest in region. Only 36.9% of demand this quarter is for a drama, well below the Africa average of 45.2%.

How does Nigerian market demand for the top ten subgenres in Africa compare to the African average? (all titles)

  • The largest difference from the Africa average in Nigeria is for crime drama series. In line with Nigeria's lower share for the drama genre overall, this subgenre has -2.2% demand share here. Sci-fi drama also loses share here.
  • In the other direction, content for school-age children overperforms here with a demand share +2.1% above the average. Pre-school series show a similar trend.
  • Nigerian audiences have a unique taste for romantic dramas, their ninth largest subgenre in 2021 Q1. No other African market analyzed for this report has this subgenre in their top ten.

Market trends: South Africa

Quick summary: South Africa has a strong production base for TV content that has recently been boosted by Netflix investment in local series. This is influencing content tastes in the market, with demand for local reality series increasing that genre’s demand share.

Which genres are South African audiences demanding? (all titles)

  • In South Africa the two largest genres, drama and comedy, have demand shares that are almost exactly in line with their Africa average demand shares.
  • However, other genres do show differences. South Africa's 12.7% share is the highest demand share in Africa for reality titles, considerably higher than the average of 8.8%. The trend is likely driven by the many local reality titles, with Idols South Africa the most demanded of these this quarter.
  • South Africa is also a strong market for documentary series with an above average demand share of 3.0%. Sports documentary All Or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur is the most demanded documentary in South Africa this quarter.

How does the South African market demand for the top ten subgenres in Africa compare to the African average? (all titles)

  • Comparing to the ten largest subgenre demand shares for Africa overall, South Africa has a significantly lower (-2.0%) demand share for school-age children's titles.
  • The demand share for anime series is also lower than it is most African nations.
  • However, South African audiences pay more attention to sitcom and sci-fi drama series than their fellow Africans.
  • South African tastes are distinguished from other African markets by a high demand for procedural dramas, which uniquely appears in this market's top ten.

Market trends: Egypt

Quick summary: Similarly to South Africa, Egypt has strong local series production influencing tastes in the market . This can be seen for the comedy genre and soap opera subgenre, where demand for local titles has increased the Egyptian demand shares compared to the African average.

Which genres are Egyptian audiences demanding? (all titles)

  • Egypt has one of Africa's highest demand shares for comedy with 14.5% of all demand being for a series in this genre. MBC's action-comedy Hogan is the most demanded comedy in this quarter.
  • Egypt also has a high demand share for animation series. The share of 8.7% is +1.9% more than the average share for this genre across Africa.
  • The demand share for reality series is lower than average. The Egyptian demand share for this genre is 4.8% while the Africa average is 8.8%.

How does the Egyptian market demand for the top ten subgenres in Africa compare to the African average? (all titles)

  • Compared to African averages, Egypt has a significantly higher demand share for anime series. The +2.2% higher share for this subgenre easily covers the market's previously noted increase in demand share for the overall animation genre.
  • While above average for Africa as a whole, Egypt's anime demand share is below average compared to other markets in the North African subregion.
  • The soap opera demand share is higher than average here, up +1.6% compared to the regional average. Local soap operas are driving this trend: Sabie Jar from Al Nahar TV is Egypt's most in-demand soap opera over Q1 2021.
  • Africa's two biggest subgenres both get less attention from Egyptian audiences. Crime drama and sitcom each have a smaller than average demand share in this market.

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