The commercial arm of the UK’s national broadcaster the BBC gas struck a deal with a South African company called Rapid Blue. The company is a a rising star in the production world responsible for the African versions of X-Factor and Pawn Stars. BBC Worldwide has actually bought an investment stake in the company although there were no specific financial details released.
It appears that the investment in Rapid Blue demonstrates a desire for the BBC to expand into Africa. The company is obviously already very well known throughout Africa particularly through it’s World Service broadcasts which are listened to extensively throughout the continent.
Rapid Blue was established in 1993 and is based in South Africa, Nigeria and Angola. It specialises in original productions and translating international TV formats for the African and South African markets. Much of their productions are broadcast outside Africa though and making their content for an international market has been part of their success.
The BBC has in fact been working with Rapid Blue for some time already producing such shows as the Weakest Link and an African version of the popular Bake Off series. There is an increasing demand for local content across Africa, which has previously been satisfied with programmes from the European and US market. However it is this demand that the BBC Worldwide hope to tap into and obviously they have a huge catalogue at their disposal to act as a blueprint for the African market.
Many people in Africa already watch the BBC and other UK TV stations online by using a British VPN to bypass the blocks on watching outside the UK. In fact it is estimated that many thousands use the BBC iPlayer service regularly despite it being technically inaccessible from Africa. It is hoped that the BBC will be able to tap into this potential demand with broadcast actually made for the South African market.
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