Afrostream: a start-up, some support, a validation. Meet Tonjé Bakang, its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Orange supports start-ups, particularly in the key strategic area of content. To mark the launch of the subscription video on-demand service Afrostream on Orange TV, we met up with Tonjé Bakang, its founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer.
In a conference held on September 15, 2016 at Orange Gardens, Orange’s ecocampus in Cotillion, Tonjé spoke about his personal background and the key stages in the development of Afrostream, the SVOD platform dedicated to African content
Afrostream and Orange, one year later… What’s new?
TB : I’m really pleased to celebrate Afrostream’s “first birthday” with Orange today. Orange has been by our side since the beginning. Orange Fab France accelerated our start-up in April 2015. Then in October 2015, we received an investment from ODV. Now our content service is available on Orange TV in France, in the Pass Vidéo section!
Can you tell us more about your journey and your vision?
TB : I started out as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry. Ever since I was a teenager, I've worked in the audiovisual industry, shooting films and videos. I was fortunate to be around during the emergence of an artistic phenomenon: hip hop and RnB were, at that time, still “niche music”. But I felt it was a culture that France would embrace. That experience showed me that something that was considered a niche genre one day could, just a few months later, become mainstream.
Then... I got bored of listening to music! I wanted to share emotions and culture with the public. I became interested in storytelling1 . I was really inspired by what I saw in the US, where this kind of narration and comedy is really popular. So I adapted an American format for a French audience, and created the Comic Street Show. For the first time, we saw these young people on stage, people I had gone to find in their neighborhoods, in their drama lessons. It became a huge movement! After that I spent 18 months working for France Télévision.
Then I produced a play that has become famous: « Couscous aux Lardons2 ». It depicts an interracial couple. A culture clash is something we can all relate to! It was a huge success and funded the purchase of the Théâtre Montorgueil in Paris.
And was this Afrostream?
TB : With Afrostream, I wanted to go even further. My inspiration came from what I had seen in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur. On the buses and subways, all the commuters were glued to their smartphones, watching series produced in their region. They were “hooked” on Asian content. I wanted to create content aimed at a community of fans of African films and series, and for this content to be accessible on smartphones, tablets, and various other screens... And the concept of Afrostream was born!
What are your plans for the future?
TB : We started fast: the fact that we were supported by a company like Orange inspired confidence in media professionals. We were able to continue to grow quickly by focusing on the rich variety of our catalog and on our business.
We have more than 1,000 hours of content and our aim is to offer more than 3,000 hours between now and the end of 2017. Right now, we need to create a buzz around the content. That’s what we’ll be doing in the coming weeks. We have also started a partnership with the Ivory Coast, for co-production in particular.
And... your vision for the future?
TB : We also have to meet the challenges of this growth. For a year, there were just six of us – mostly engineers – in the company. By March 2017, there will be 25 of us, as we are looking to grow internationally, in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, in Brazil…
To find out more:
- Afrostream's success story in video [FR]
- Afrostream on Facebook
- Afrostream available on Orange TV (September 16, 2016)
- Orange Digital Ventures invests in Afrostream (October 6, 2015)
- Orange Fab France : discover the six start-ups of season 3 (April 17, 2015)
- Orange and start-ups
Afrostream, a start-up supported by Orange
Afrostream offers a subscription service to African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and African videos for the whole family. In addition to films and series, the company’s catalog also includes cartoons, documentaries, concerts; hundreds of hours of unlimited programs!
Orange has supported Afrostream in its development since April 2015, at three key stages:
- April 2015 : acceleration of Afrostream within Orange Fab France (season 3).
- October 2015 : Orange Digital Ventures acquires a minority participation of Afrostream’s share capital. This investment enables the start-up to accelerate the development of its innovative service in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.
- September 2016 : a new step is taken. Afrostream becomes available on Orange TV in the Pass Vidéo section. The videos are in HD, and are available both in French and in their original version with subtitles. Afrostream is available for €6.99 per month, with no commitment, for Orange TV customers in metropolitan France who have a Livebox 4 or Livebox Play and the relevant decoder. Orange TV customers subscribing to Afrostream will soon be able to watch its content on their mobile devices and tablets.