In June of 2019, NOW! TV and MultiChoice Botswana partnered with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to bring NOW! TV on-board the DStv platform in an effort to ensure that more Batswana could access local home-grown content made by Batswana, for Batswana. Three years later, NOW! TV and MultiChoice reflect on the impact made on the local creative industry.
“Since we first opened our doors for business in 1992, we always had our sights set on not only providing the best in exclusive international content, live sport, news and kiddies content for our local customers but also eventually being able to showcase our own stories, told by the people of the Republic,” commented Lorato Mwape, MultiChoice Botswana Managing Director. “It has been a long journey as the local film industry has also needed time to take shape and cement itself, however when the opportunity arose for us to partner with the Government of Botswana to achieve a shared objective of igniting the local creative industry, it was an opportunity we could not miss.”
As a result of a government mandate to create spaces to empower, uplift and enrich the youth of Botswana, The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture Development launched NOW! TV in March of 2018 on a Direct-to-Terrestrial basis which required viewers to be in possession of a set-top box to access the channel. Speaking on NOW! TV’s decision to approach MultiChoice Botswana to be added onto the DStv Platform, Eric Paulo, Media Management & Transmission Officer at NOW! TV commented, “When we launched in 2018, we were inundated with requests from the general public for the channel to be more accessible as the availability of set-top boxes was limited at the time. We knew that we needed the kind of reach that would enable Batswana in every corner of the country to see the breadth of content we had pouring in and that influenced our decision to partner with MultiChoice Botswana.”
Three years since the channel launched, the first of its kind focusing on youth generated and youth focused content, NOW! TV shares that, despite the challenges they have experienced they find comfort in the fact that their original objective which was set out when the channel began has come to fruition. “When we put out the tender for local content four years ago, the amount of content we received was beyond our expectations, “says Legae Digwamaaje, Content Acquisition Officer for NOW! TV. “The market was clearly hungry, and with the absence of available platforms for it to be shared, we were faced with endless content sitting idly which needed to be consumed.”
According to the NOW! TV team, the initial content acquisition took about four months to complete due to government tendering processes and other teething issues that come with starting a new channel from scratch. Despite the initial challenges experienced, NOW! TV maintains that the growth of the channel since 2018 has largely been due to the fact that content creators have received increased exposure through the DStv platform and the channel’s digital adaptations. “We’ve seen an exponential growth and improvement in the quality of the content we now receive, and this is largely due to the fact that there is now an available platform that guarantees significant reach,” says Digwamaaje. “The spill-over effect that this platform has created also includes the growth of more production companies, which ultimately is what we wanted with this initiative: to create employment opportunities in this industry that so desperately needs to grow and develop into a profit-making one here in Botswana.”
Alongside providing content creators with a platform, NOW! TV also boasts their commitment of offering coaching and mentoring to filmmakers in Botswana. All submissions are evaluated through a rigorous process and all creators are taken through a lengthy debriefing session where they are given feedback on their content, where improvements can be made and advised on a way forward for future submissions. “Above and beyond the in-house expertise we share with our local content creators, we also look forward to partnering with MultiChoice through the MultiChoice Talent Factory initiative to further empower local filmmakers in specific areas of need such as scriptwriting, sound and other areas required in making quality content. This was scheduled for 2020 but due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic it has been postponed to a later date,” added Paulo.
NOW! TV continues to welcome submissions from local content creators across the 11 different genres it accommodates, including short Films, Drama, Reality, entertainment magazine shows and more with the overall objective to grow Botswana’s film industry into its own version of Nollywood. Digwamaaje concluded by stating, “We are proud to be contributing to the growth of the local film industry and we can only hope that with the continued support of MultiChoice Botswana, one day we will see our own ‘BotsWood’, where our filmmakers can have their works seen and enjoyed beyond our borders and where our industry creates more jobs and sustains more lives, as the arts and creative industry is just as important as any other in a country’s economy.”