The 7 Biggest Takeaways From Netflix’s Data + Performance of African Titles

Consumer Data Shows Models + Successful Trends For African Filmmakers

      The Story ⚡

Consumers watched 90 billion hours of Netflix in the second half of 2023 (and 183B in all of 2023). This is according to the Netflix What We Watched metrics report.

How did African titles contribute to these metrics and what are key insights stakeholders in the African film industry can learn from this?  

Tell Me More

From Yoh Christmas to The Black Book, here is a ranking of African titles that performed well on Netflix last year.

Insights from Performance Data

Based on the Netflix Report data for the year 2023, these 7 insights have been synthesized and are presented for the Stakeholders in the African Film Industry

1. 126M Views

 The top 13 ranked African titles based on Netflix views for the year 2023 collated around 126 Million views.  Top titles showed that viewers appreciate a wide range of African Stories irrespective of the genre, story plot, and format. As long as the story resonated with the audience, viewers streamed it to watch.

The top titles vary on a spectrum that extends from Editi Effiong’s  Record Smashing The Black Book (About a Deacon on a path to seek justice for his slain son) to Silverton Siege(A Movie based on a real-life Siege that took place in Silverton Pretoria in 1980), to Yoh, Christmas (A South African Romantic comedy Series predominantly in Zulu and English).

Comedy, love, action, drama –  There is more than one size fits all avenue for successful African titles. The data show that African filmmakers can have agency over their storytelling and the audience rewards good filmmaking without locale bias.

2. Netflix Execs Adaptation Strategy Finds an Underserved African  Market 

  Three out of the top thirteen African titles are adaptations of successful Netflix titles from other regions.

Two of the three adapted titles had the most watched hours for the year 2023 while the last one (Yoh, Christmas) was an instant hit minting over 10 million watched Hours in 2023 despite a late December release. 

Steven Pillemer’s steamy South African series Fatal Seduction is based off the Netflix Mexican drama series Dark Desire;  the crime thriller Unseen is based on a Turkish title of the same genre – Fatma; and the light-hearted Rom-Com Yoh! Christmas is based off the Norwegian Series Home for Christmas

Fatal Seduction was released on July 7th, ranked third on the watched hours globally for its first two weeks, and was the second most-viewed African title of 2023

Unseen; a six-part thriller that follows the crime spree of an unassuming woman in search of her husband, premiered on 27th March and ended its second week with a cumulative 41.90M watched hours. It was the 3rd most viewed African title on Netflix for 2023.

An analysis of the Data confirms that Netflix Exec’s experimentation with adaptation is yielding results. The Adaptation content so far has proved a good ROI and is viable for the market.

There are universal themes to certain stories. If a story has been told successfully to a particular audience, it could be told differently to a new audience taking cognizance of and adjusting for culture, language and socio-economics.

3. Series v Movies

7 of the top 13 titles are Movies, the other 6 are series. The top series except one are of South African Origin. 

Shanty Town is Nigeria’s most watched Series of 2023 and the only Nigeria Series that does stand out with a sea of South African Series

South African series on Netflix are doing well irrespective of genre. With high production standards, structures, and the right investors, they can create top-of-class entertaining shows for consumers.

Additionally, Netflix has a large South African Subscriber base, which translates into a loyal audience market.

4. South Africa to Nigeria’s Hit Ratio is 8:5.

With an 8:5 ratio, South African hits almost double the number of Nigerian hits.

SA has a higher percentage of hits due to the sheer number of quality Series productions.

Walter Mandla Dube’s Silverton Siege, is one South African film that does crack the Top 13 Most Watched of 2023.  The Gripping Action drama is about a trio of anti-apartheid fighters who get into a sticky situation. The title charting so high in 2023 despite an April 2022 international Netflix release speaks to its longevity. iNumber Number and Queenstown Kings also earn a place in the top charts alongside 2023 Nigerian Blockbuster, The Black Book, Jagun Jagun, A Sunday Affair and Blood Vessel.

South African Top titles are series, whilst Nigerian top titles happen to be movies. Investors and filmmakers should take cognizance of the established markets and areas of improvement.

5. Kings of Jo’burg Gets a Double Appearance on the hit charts

 Kings of Jo’burg is a South African fantasy crime thriller that follows the Masire Brothers who rule Johannesburg’s criminal underworld, but a supernatural family curse and a tangled web of betrayal threaten to destroy them.

Interestingly, the Data shows that Kings of Joburg Season 1 had more watched hours and views(27.4M, 5.1M) than Kings of Joburg Season 2 (24.1M, 4.1M) for the year 2023

Season 1 of Kings of Jo’burg released in 2020, charted very highly in the year 2023. This might be linked to the anticipation value of season 2 which was released in 2023. Consumers streamed more of season 1 of Kings of Joburg, which is reflected in the metric.

The three-year gap between Seasons 1 and 2 of Kings of Joburg is a possible strong root cause for the 2023 success of the first season.

Another side of this data shows how the extent of audience churn between Seasons 1 and 2. What this means for the King Of Joburg Franchise can only be determined when the data for 2024 comes in.

6. Steamy Fatal Seduction Hit Triple-Digit Watched Hours

Fatal Seduction follows a married professor who gets pulled into a passionate affair with a younger man. This uncovers a path of tragedy and betrayal from those closest to her.

Set and shot in Cape Town, South Africa  the erotic thriller is an adaptation of the successful Netflix Mexican title Dark Desire

Driven by it’s sex appeal scenes and suspense storyline, the watched hours of Fatal Seduction indicate that the story scaled brilliantly, maintaining suspense and keeping viewers continuously invested in the characters.

The series released on Netflix in July 2023, chartered globally for six consecutive weeks. As a 14 episodes series, it stormed into the top 10 charts in 77 countries and is 2023’s most-watched African Title in terms of watched Hours (132.10 M).

In comparison, this represents a sixty-five per cent (65%) increase from the next highest watched hours – Unseen (80M).

7. Shanty Town Greenlit For Second Season, Jagun Jagun Sequel in The Works.

Titles that have done well and hit the right KPIs are usually indicative of consumer love and what attracts subscribers to stay on the streaming service.

Consequently, It is unsurprising for Netflix to attempt to produce more of the same and even scale. Netflix Nigerian acquired title Shanty Town has been greenlit for a second season, and Femi Adebayo’s action epic Jagun Jagun’s sequel is in the works.

Success breeds more success and reusing a model that already works is the smart business thing to do. We can expect more Netflix content from the filmmakers with the top-ranking titles.

In Summary

Some African titles made global waves in the year 2023, showcasing the viability of content from the continent.

Whilst the entire industry looks to mirror the success of 2023, the entire industry forecast is for newer stories and bigger collaborations

As Stakeholders in the African Film Industry look to build on the success of 2023, the 2024 numbers could very well eclipse present values.

Download the Full Report Metric Here 



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