The Netflix Series titled “Queen Sono” is the first Netflix original series and is set to be released globally on the 28 of February.
In the series, Pearl Thusi plays a dazzling secret agent trying to uncover the truth about her mother’s assassination while also protecting her country.
The commissioning of the series by Netflix is part of an effort by the streaming service to increase its appeal to viewers in Africa, analysts say. Netflix seeks to expand in Africa as it nears “a saturation point” for subscriptions in many developed markets, says Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, an associate director at market research firm IHS Markit.
“Queen Sono” is “a kaleidoscope of expression of African artistry” says Dorothy Ghettuba, head of International Originals for Africa at Netflix. “It showcases an African aesthetic onscreen that the rest of the world has never had a chance to see … exploring the origins of contemporary trends through African eyes and the breadth of ideas that this vast continent has to offer.”
The lead character is “a female African hero for the times,” says Kagiso Lediga, the show’s South African creator.
The series is designed to be a pan-African thriller that’s an entertaining and smart political drama, Lediga says.
“If it appeals to all Africans, it appeals to the world,” he says. “Those people and stories have always been there but never seen as viable for a global audience.”
Netflix has also acquired high-quality “Nollywood” (Nigerian) movies, including “Lionheart” and “Chief Daddy.” Nollywood films are typically low budget, says Papavassilopoulos, but Netflix is willing to spend money on “high-brow, top-quality drama” with “export potential.”
Netflix doesn’t release subscription figures specifically for Africa but it reported in December that it had 47.4million subscribers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Simon Murray, principal analyst at London-based Digital TV Research, estimates that it has 1.41 million subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in South Africa, with five million expected by 2025.
Africa represents a “growing market” says Murray. His firm projects that Internet-delivered TV and video revenues in sub-Saharan Africa will top $1 billion by 2024 (up from $223 million in 2018), with almost 10 million subscribers by 2023 (up from 1.56 million in 2017).
The market remains largely untapped because of the “low penetration of good quality content services,” says Papavassilopoulos.
“Although there’s a global demand for Hollywood content, people always want to watch local stars and local product,” Murray adds. “You have to refresh your content on a regular basis to keep subscribers and attract new subscribers.”