BY DEOYE FALADE
I once got into a discussion about some sci-fi/superhero series produced in South Africa and why it should be getting more coverage and attention than it is, simply because it’s indigenous. The writer was disappointed with the lukewarm reception as is expected when one is a sci-fi nerd or comic geek and I really felt his pain but some comparisons and parameters used just didn’t sit right and my thoughts drew me to a crucial part of why some of our shows aren’t doing as well as they should in terms of viewership and hype.
We’re not promoting them enough.
I won’t go into the subpar acting of key characters in the series – Jongo – or its competent stunts and visual effects. But why didn’t what can be termed as the first superhero series in Africa a hit? Why do seemingly great TV productions go out without much notice?
That a show is on TV doesn’t mean a whole lot of potential viewers would know about it. I’m in Nigeria, I have DSTV, I follow African film and TV happenings closely but I didn’t hear about this series (well, partly due to differences in bouquets and subscription plans) till I stumbled on that post online. None of my geek friends did too. We might have liked or hated it – just like we barely tolerate ‘campy’ superhero series like Arrow, Supergirl and love Game of Thrones, Suits and others in equal measure –but we would have watched and argued about it. But we just did not know.
Even if it wasn’t on a channel available across all bouquets, why didn’t I get to see it advertised?
In my opinion, DSTV isn’t doing enough promoting shows on its platform – it’s beyond just allocating slots and advertising only on DSTV. A lot of independent producers aren’t faring better either as far as promotion of their own shows are concerned. As a Nigerian, I can use the case of Hotel Majestic as a case in point. Take a look at DSTV or Africa Magic websites, the activity there regarding updates on shows isn’t really going to get anyone excited.
Fortunately, Hush is doing much better.
Where are series like Jongo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? To be fair, I later found Jongo on Facebook but the last update on their page was around July 2016. How are our shows engaging potential viewers and making fans out of them? For the most part, fans don’t really start the conversations, the show itself does. As critically panned as some foreign TV series are, they are all in our faces on social media. Viewers, potential or otherwise can comment, tweet, post, repost and share videos and all. I can’t say the same for our shows. Visit the Facebook page of Game of Thrones for instance and you’ll get what I’m talking about.
Putting blood, sweat and tears into coming up with an awesome TV show is all well and good but I realised lately that too little consideration is put into getting the word out. It is not enough for producers to rely on their show’s novelty value and presence on cable TV to the detriment of proper productions, with oft negligible attempts to build a loyal following or start conversations.
And the reasons above should sum up why we are not talking about a lot of our TV shows. For the most part, we can’t talk about what we don’t know about.