Alessandro Tucci, SVP & General Manager Africa at Fox International, on how to successfully launch new channels and balanced bouquets in small emerging markets, and the unique potential he sees in Africa.
Can you give us a brief overview of which emerging markets Fox is involved in?
Fox has been actively working in emerging markets for the past 20 years. We started the business in Latin America with one channel, and today we are the leading pay-TV channel operator on the continent with 21 channels presently in market.
We have also had great success in Asia – our operation started in Japan but quickly moved into markets such as India, where we have very successfully learnt how to localise international TV brands to ensure that they have resonance within the market.
Eastern Europe and Africa have been our key focus over the last number of years, with Africa being our key growth point going forward. In both these regions we provide smart innovative programmes that entertain and educate audiences across all demographics and on all platforms.
Understanding our local markets and what their individual content requirements are is key to creating successful channel bouquets.
What are some of the key lessons you have taken away with regards to developing pay-TV channels in such markets?
Our strategy is very clear. Be opportunistic in even smaller emerging markets creating channels that are relevant for audiences and platforms: a mix of international brands and content with locally sourced relevant content.
We always leverage from our global Hubs to launch new channels, but the clear intention to move into local offices as soon as possible and to create bespoke channels for each region.
We believe in localisation and not in corporate central offices. In order to make good channels we need to be close and be relevant to our platforms, our audiences and our advertisers
What unique attributes do you think Africa possesses in this regard?
Africa leap-frogs when it comes to technology – the continent is a late market compared to the rest of the world (in terms of penetration of pay-TV, number of platforms, advertising and data measurement) but is surfing the technology divide to decrease the gap.
This means that as a company we need to be aware of the manner in which African audiences engage with content, and consistently ensure that our distribution methods are relevant for the market.
Further to this, the continent is also culturally very diverse, and we believe that we have the ability to localise our premium international brands and content to ensure that they satisfy local tastes and resonate with our viewers here.
An example of this is the creation of a new National Geographic channel brand, called Nat Geo Gold, which is bespoke to Africa and structured for an African audience.
As Africa is very often starved of positive content about its people and places, one of our core lessons from other emerging markets that we will use here is to ensure that we editorially deliver content that audiences see as culturally relevant and positive.
How do you plan to create balanced bouquets for the local market?
We have internationally developed a full bouquet, so key would be duplicate this bouquet ensuring that we deliver entertainment channels with our Fox-branded channels, factual programming delivered through the National Geographic portfolio of channels and lastly lifestyle content through 24 Kitchen. These content tentpoles serve to deliver a complete holistic offering for new platforms targeting African audiences.
In various markets such as LatAm we have also been cognisant of content requirements that are very specifically localised. We have created local channels with largely local content that speak specifically to these markets and serve to enhance our international bouquet.
Understanding that each territory is different is key to our business ethos – this means that even though we introduce international TV brands into the market, we ensure localisation through our programming strategies, our on-air communications and where feasible through the acquisition of local content.