This Couple Launched a Black-Centered Streaming Service to Bring Pan-African Stories to the Masses
Photo Credit: Twitter / @MichaelMaponga
In today’s entertainment world, streaming has taken over and almost every major cable network has opted to launch a streaming platform to keep up with the steep competition.
Of those major platforms competing for that number one spot, a new streaming-service has now burst onto the scene with a mission to introduce pan-African stories to the world and explode African stereotypes often seen on mainstream TV shows, African Business Magazine reports.
AfroLand TV — founded by Zimbabwean actor turned entrepreneur Michael Maponga and his wife — is a subscription-based video-on-demand streaming platform that curates Pan-African film and TV content for viewing. According to Maponga, the platform is “bridging Pan-African stories globally.”
The Dallas-based media streaming startup has boldly branded “our stories are for everyone” on AfroLand TV’s website. It’s also been dubbed by the 2020 Berlinale International Film Festival in Germany as “the new Netflix or Disney+ for Africa,” African Business Magazine shares.
In addition to launching the new service, Maponga recently shared that the streaming platform has caught the attention of Comcast NBCUniversal, who selected the startup for its latest LIFT Labs Accelerator program — a 13-week global tech-focused cohort that works with entrepreneurs across the connectivity, media, and entertainment industries.
According to NTX Inno, AfroLand TV also raised a total of $160,000 in seed funding from Dallas-based accelerator Tech Wildcatters to help the platform disrupt the crowded market and make a name for itself.
Afroland TV arrives just as other streaming platforms like Netflix, i-Roko TV, and South Africa’s Multichoice — another long-established pay-TV player — have begun pouring funds into local productions in Africa. Unlike I-Roko TV — which only offers Nollywood titles currently — AfroLandTV offers a plethora of content spanning African, African-American, Black European, Caribbean, and Afro-Latino culture.
While Maponga claims “TV is the biggest influencer and programmer in the world,” his streaming service is working to break non-African stereotypes relayed in mainstream media by strictly vetting the submissions process for content creators.
“We don’t showcase titles surrounding any wars, poverty, and sickness. The big platforms are already doing that,” said Maponga to African Business Magazine in regards to giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, and DSTV.
Similar to other digital platforms like For Africans By Africans, AfroLand TV is making a conscious effort to challenge and reject imagery that some deem harmful to Africa in the global media.
The Texan startup has gone up against some big competitors in the industry since its launch. Although it lacks the funds needed to license content, they have “grown from nothing to something with very limited resources,” Maponga revealed.
According to African Business Magazine, Afrocentric VOD start-ups have grappled with the costly process of licensing content in the past, further contributing to the premature demise of Afrostream as they’ve struggled to acquire major Hollywood, European, and African titles.
“This approach was detrimental to the cash flow,” Maponga said to African Business Magazine. “Licensing Hollywood content is very expensive especially for a start-up and requires large upfront cash investments.”
Instead of giving in to this approach, AfroLandTV shared that it adopted a leaner approach to its business development strategies by focusing on developing a strong following through the distribution and monetization of smaller, local African productions.
“We are not trying to be like Netflix,” said Maponga. “We’re collecting these stories globally. You can consider us a niche platform, but we are a global niche platform.”
AfroLand TV is now available to sign up for free streaming, no credit cards needed.
For more information about AfroLand TV, visit its website.
Editorial Note: This article has been updated since being published.