BY ESE DIBEBI
As EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first Global Black Entertainment and Lifestyle network moves into its third year as the channel of choice in the entertainment category, the outfit is now expanding its operations to more Nigerian cities, including Abuja, Lagos and Calabar. The channel’s purpose for this multi-location operations is to meet its goal of programme specialization as well as market inclusion.
In this regards, Drama, one of the most exciting genres on EbonyLife TV, will now be moved to Calabar, with major drama series set to be produced all year round from ‘the nation’s paradise’. Already, The Governor, Desperate Housewives Africa, Cinderella, Dynasty and Melrose Place are scheduled for production in Calabar. The latter two: Dynasty and Melrose Place are EbonyLife TV’s two new classic blockbuster series recently acquired from CBS Studios International (CBSSI).
The Governor, a riveting 13-part drama series, is currently being shot in Calabar. When Governor Peter Akala dies from an automobile accident, not only is his State thrown into paroxysms of mourning, the party hierarchy is also thrown into mighty disarray as well. The succession plan as enshrined in the constitution now faces a very harsh test in the face of severe machinations and maneuverings as the State is set, against all odds, to produce not only a political ‘outsider’, but also a woman, as governor!
To demonstrate EbonyLife TV’s firm commitment to Calabar as its city of choice, The Governor, an extensive production, is being shot in over 12 different locations in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, while approximately 40 local actors have been cast in Calabar.
Next in line to be produced in Calabar after The Governor, is ‘Cinderella- An African Tale’. This will be a 6 part mini-series modern African adaptation of the famous and absorbing fairytale set to be filmed in February 2016.
The filming of Cinderella – An African Tale will be followed by the production, also in Calabar, of the African adaptation of Dynasty and Melrose Place, compelling acquisitions from CBS Studios International (CBSSI). Adaptation scripting of these is to commence in early 2016.
On the heels of these will be the filming of Desperate Housewives Africa Season 2 in the latter quarter of 2016. The partnership between EbonyLife TV and the Walt Disney Company had brought about the production of Desperate Housewives Africa Season 1, based on the multiple award-winning ABC Television drama hit series, Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives Africa has been the first drama format ever to be made in Africa.
As EbonyLife TV positions to meet the needs of its viewers by creating more drama from its world-class studio facility in Tinapa, Calabar, as enabled by its celebrated partnership with the Cross River State Government and the good, warm, hospitable and loving people of the tourist city, the company is also proudly expanding its operational tentacles to both Lagos and Abuja.
Whereas Calabar remains a most critical and integral aspect of the channel’s operations and will ultimately be known as its Home of Drama, Lagos will be known as EbonyLife TV’s home of Entertainment. Consequently, the channel’s rich daily entertainment portfolio is now set to move to its new studios in Lagos in order to allow for ease of production and accessibility to guests.
The channel has also expanded its operations to Abuja. In its bid to continuously champion the cause of its teeming youth viewership on the issues of politics and governance, EbonyLife TV now has a team of correspondents and production crew covering the Villa, bringing its audiences news and views in and around the centre of power in Nigeria, similar sentiments that inspired a number of its existing programmes, including Naija Politics (a panel discussion programme that seeks to bring insight into intricate political issues, while proffering answers to questions on the minds of viewers);EL Reports (latest headlines and positive news from around the continent), among others.
EbonyLife TV’s Abuja operations also transcend reporting from the Villa. Its recently commissioned 13-part drama series, Sons of The Caliphate, is currently being shot in the city. Sons of The Caliphate is a political drama set in the North of Nigeria about three rich, entitled and ambitious young men all caught up in the lust for power, addiction, love and desire, as well as the obligations of family loyalty and the craving for revenge in the deadly tussle for the governorship seat of the Northern Caliphate State. Personal conflicts and interest intertwine and cascade through the dark alleys of corruption, betrayals, assassinations, corporate crimes and palace affairs in this drama about the rich, cultural and flamboyant aristocratic Northern Nigerian lifestyle.
EbonyLife TV remains committed to being a global media player with a growing presence all over the world. Since its launch on June 30, 2013 and first broadcast on July 01, 2013 to a pan-African audience, via DStv, Africa’s largest Pay TV platform, the channel now distributes to 49 African countries, including South Africa and Southern African countries.
The channel also continues to expand exponentially across the globe. In the UK, it is now available to viewers on Lebara Play; and in Canada, viewers are served via the Ethnic Channels Group. By virtue of an agreement with Emirates Cable TV and Multimedia LLC (E-vision), EbonyLife TV is broadcast in the UAE via various cable networks and wireless systems through Etisalat, E-Vision and its affiliates.
Agreement is also in place with CWI Caribbean Limited through FLOW TV to broadcast EbonyLife TV to a wide range of Islands in the Caribbean Diaspora markets, including Antigua, Barbados, Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman Islands and The Bahamas.
Technical checks are also ongoing with Virgin Media for further channel extension to the UK while EbonyLife TV’s VOD platforms are available for download by viewers across the US, Europe, Canada, Asia and the Middle East on Play Store for Android devices and on App Store for iOS devices, as well as at vod.ebonylifetv.com.
EbonyLife TV continues to attract local and international plaudits along the way for its leadership position in the African media and entertainment space. Today, the channel is ranked as one of the most watched channels on the DStv platform by its target demographics across the continent which consist of the youth (aged between 18 and 34) and women.
EbonyLife TV annually produces over 1000 hours of premium, original, and homegrown entertainment programming content to include Talk, Entertainment, Reality, Comedy, Drama, Lifestyle, Factual, among others, of which the channel boasts exclusive ownership of 90% of the content, conveniently making it the largest self-owned library on the continent.