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Bingeing without borders

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Cable Girls (from Spain), Suburra (from Italy) and Ingobernable (from Spain) have been listed as some of the most binged shows in South Africa; proving that great storytelling transcends borders.

When stories from different countries, languages and cultures find a worldwide platform, where the only limitation is the creator’s imagination, then unique, yet universal, stories emerge that are embraced by a global audience. Access breaks down borders.

This according to Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix, who says the most practical way to bring great content to the world is to make it available to the world.

“That’s why, since 2015, all Netflix Original Content is available in 190 countries globally. When a new title is launched, all 125 million members, from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur, can enjoy it simultaneously – and watch at whatever pace they prefer since most episodes are uploaded at once. By removing the borders of time or geography, Netflix has democratised entertainment and broke the mould on traditional content ‘windows’,” says Sarantos.

Shows such as Dark (Germany) and Black Mirror (UK), acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, have demonstrated that great content has the ability to resonate with consumers locally and globally.

In a showcase in Rome this week, Netflix announced 7 new shows coming to the slate that transcend language and location with the aim of bringing great local stories to a global audience.

○         Netflix’s first Dutch original series, created by production company Pupkin will launch in 2019. In the liberal city of Amsterdam, these Dutch students have it all: youth, wealth, sex, power…and the portal to a demonic world from the Dutch Golden Age they opened by accident.

○         Mortel (France). Mortel tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force. The series will be created by Frédéric Garcia and produced by Mandarin Television.

○         The Wave (Germany). The Wave is based on the hit movie THE WAVE and inspired by real events. Produced by Rat Pack in association with Sony Pictures Television Germany.

○         Luna Nera (Italy). An original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy, created by Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci and Tiziana Triana, and produced by Fandango.

○         La Casa de Papel Part 3 (Spain). After the global success of Part 1 and 2 of the Spanish heist sensation, the Professor will develop new heists that will be unveiled in 2019.

○         The English Game (UK). A six-part drama about the invention of football and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport.  Produced by 42 and written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

○         Turn Up Charlie (UK), a new Netflix original comedy series from the UK starring Idris Elba. The eight-part series is executive produced by Idris Elba and Gary Reich.

Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix VP Development, Local Originals summaries their approach to content, “Our strategy is not to make global content. In fact, we’ve seen that when studios try to make ‘global content’ using non-specific cities, generic styles and forced-English language dialogue than it serves no one. At Netflix, we’ve found that the more hyper-local we are then the stories naturally travel on their own because themes emerge that are universal to the human condition. Viewers don’t need to look or sound like a character to relate to them.”

Arts and Entertainment

Android arrives on SA TVs

The arrival of the first name-brand Android TV in South African stores symbolises the shift to smart TVs, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You probably have a good idea of what operating system (OS) runs on your phone, and may even know the version number. After all, Android and iOS almost define our relationships with our phones.

Not many, on the other hand, know anything about the OS on their TVs. Older TVs don’t even have names for their OS. Newer TVs with Internet connectivity, generally known as smart TVs, all have operating systems, but in most cases do not make a big deal of it. Only Samsung, with its Tizen OS, and LG, with webOS, are well-known. Then again, not all that well-known either.

Before Sony pulled out of the local TV market, it was about to introduce Android, the OS made by Google for smartphones, to the big box. A number of no-name brands have also debuted with Android, but consumers have tended to avoid them precisely because they were such an unknown quantity.

Enter Skyworth. It’s an $8-billion dollar business listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but is only beginning to emerge as a presence in the South African market. It bought out Sinotec, the most popular budget big-screen TVs locally, and introduced the parent brand to the country in the last two years.

It keeps costs down because it brings in components from China, but assembles the TV sets at a local factory, thereby avoiding import duties on luxury items. Quality has rarely been an issue for Sinotec devices, and Skyworth seems to be benefiting from its long relationship with retailers.

Continue reading about the first Android TV contender in South Africa.

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SA rises as Spotify turns 10

October 2018 marks 10 years since Spotify officially launched its music streaming platform and to celebrate this milestone, Spotify has taken a look at some of its biggest discoveries in music.

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Spotify provided the following information:

The service only launched in South Africa in March this year, so this country is not included in the retrospective, but Spotify supplied Gadget with the following local streaming landmarks:

·         Most streamed South African artist – Jeremy Loops

·         Most streamed female South African artist – Shekhinah

·         Highest first-day streaming record – AKA’s Beyonce

Since launch Spotify now sits at 180 million monthly active listeners across 65 countries. These Spotify users can enjoy a music library of over 40 million songs and podcasts, and over 3 billion-plus user-created playlists. As of 31 August 2018, Spotify has also paid over 10 billion euros to rights holders since launch.

To date, over 2 000 genres of music have been identified on Spotify, among them Wonky (electronic music characterised by synths with unusual time signatures), Shimmer Pop (a Swedish cousin of indie pop and indietronica), and British Blues (the blues…with a British flavour).

Spotify has also done an assessment of “listening diversity,” – the number of artists the average user streams per month – which has risen on Spotify over the past 10 years, at an average of about 8% per year. In the past three years alone, listening diversity increased about 40% on the strength of new personalised and editorial playlists – meaning people are listening to an increased number of artists on a regular basis.

An official Decade of Discovery playlist features the most-streamed songs over the past  decade, including favourites like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” Rihanna’s “Work,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and the star-studded “Despacito Remix”.

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