Monday, September 25, 2017

What's going on in the media industries in South Africa and South America you ask?

Okay maybe you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway. Why? Because I spent my summer, and quite happily I might add, working on a series of reports on the media and entertainment industries of seven different international markets. Two have been released so far: South Africa and South America, and five more are coming this fall: China, India, South Korea, Mexico, and Select English and French Markets in Africa. (Ed. Note: If only frequent flyer points were part of the deal)

Despite being a pretty digital person I still usually take my interview notes by hand 

A few highlights from the reports. First South Africa. You may know it for dramatic wildlife documentaries or the place that the mystery of 60s protest singer Sixto Rodriguez was solved in the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugarman. But today there's a booming film and TV industry there, even though they didn't have TV until the 1970s and never had cable. Now South Africa is home to studio facilities that rival those of North America and Europe, which brings international media production to cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. A recent one is the mini-series The Indian Detective, starring Canadian comedian Russell Peters, produced for broadcast in Canada and to be shown on Netflix in South Africa.

And what about South America on the world stage? Perhaps nothing speaks more to the global appeal of Latin American culture than the recent crowning of Despacito as the most watched video on YouTube, and the first to reach 3 billion views. (Let's see if we can add a few more to its current 3.8 billion views by embedding it below).

And yes, I realize that the song is the work of Puerto Rican artist Luis Fonsi, who is obviously not from South America, but it's the jam that started the Latin music revolution currently underway, largely thanks to on demand listening and viewing on Spotify and YouTube. This summer Billboard reported that right after Despacito broke the record for most viewed video on YouTube there were four Spanish language videos in its Top 10 and 27 in its top 100. The latest Latin American sonic explosion Mi Gente is approaching 900 million views at the time of this writing by the way.

But back to the South American report. It focuses on four countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia -- which together represent approximately ¾ of the South American continent’s population and the majority of its economic activity. In terms of the media industries a lot of that economy activity came from telenovelas, those melodramatic TV serials reportedly enjoyed by viewers from 8 to 80. Thanks to the globalizing power of Netflix classic telenovelas such as Rebelde, La Usurpadora, and La Reina del Sur have become part of the binge viewing fare of audiences around the world, and have led to a new generation of telenovela-inspired shows such as Narcos, Club de Cuervos, and Ingobernable.

To learn more about the state of the media and entertainment industries in South Africa and South America you can access the full reports online. Click here for the report on South Africa and here for the report on South America.

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