Tracking TRACE TV’s African Broadcasting Success

“Although the African television industry is behind the rest of the world in its digital transformation, the continent presents some of the most exciting opportunities for both broadcasters and viewers ….”

Ten years ago, a niche urban music TV network rooted in Africa hit the airwaves. Over the past decade, this small independent company has blossomed to become one of the biggest and most influential entertainment media brands in the world and one of Africa’s most enduring success stories. TRACE TV, founded by Olivier Laouchez, now provides tens of millions of fans in over 150 countries worldwide, with the latest news content for two of their favourite things – music and sports celebrities.

Laouchez attributes the company’s success to the fact that it was founded on providing good regional content to African youth, and on providing a unique mix of international programming, urban trend spotting and local celebrity news. It still does this today but, as broadband and digital communications expand across the continent, it is ever mindful of the need to adapt to a multi-screen environment. As a result, TRACE has spent the past three years developing a comprehensive series of innovative online and mobile products and services that go beyond TV to address the need for multi-platform engagement, although traditional broadcast remains very much a part of the mix.

Oliver Laouchez will be speaking at AfricaCast 2013 when he will share his considerable insight to attending delegates. “Although the African television industry is behind the rest of the world in its digital transformation, the continent presents some of the most exciting opportunities for both broadcasters and viewers”, said Laouchez. “Events such as AfricaCast provide the perfect platform for the industry to engage with one another and shape the future for the benefit of all interested parties”.

This year’s AfricaCast event is tipped to provoke much thought and discussion sparked by a raft of speakers who are at the coal-face of the African digital entertainment evolution.

One topic that is bound to be debated is that of collaboration. Transparency and partnerships are key elements of what has built TRACE TV into a global brand but Laouchez understands this is an ongoing process. An entrepreneur who initially relied on bootstrapping to get him to where he is today, Laouchez is fully aware that he can learn just as much from delegates at AfricaCast as they can from him. “We’re at a junction in our development and the road can go in many directions therefore – definitely not a one-way street and I believe we all can learn a lot as we take the road to digital transformation”.

There is no mystery to achieving success in this sector. Simply, it is a matter of “know your market and your audiences inside out”. But understanding that maxim and adopting it into business culture is easier said than done. Consumers drive content in the 21st century but some broadcasters are slow to change. This has created the gaps that are rapidly being filled by intrepid entrepreneurs such as TRACE, iRoking and Spinlet which are all showing signs of ‘knowing their audiences as much as their audiences know them’. What this also means is these pioneers that are rooted on the continent – are helping to influence the global entertainment industry too … because the desire for African music and celebrities is growing globally.

Probably the biggest benefit these new broadcast channels and programmes are having is on the up-scaling of the African music and entertainment industry and on broadcasting as a whole. In the past, visual content was inconsistent in quality but nowadays, with the deployment of digital platforms, there is demand for quality material that can be carried across a variety of mediums. Local producers now grasp how vital this is and, as a result, can reap the rewards for themselves and for the industry generally.

To hear Olivier Laouchez and find out how and why TRACE is not only available in seven million homes, but is also the undisputed leader of out-of-home viewing such as clubs, bars and hairdressers with a social media following on Facebook of more than 805 000, you should book your seat at AfricaCast 2013 now.

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