At the beginning of March Huawei announced that Trace TV would be available on the company’s video platform. This would be part of a larger push to bring content creators to Huawei Video, but also opens up Trace TV to a potentially wider audience, so the partnership looks to be a win-win.
“It is with great excitement that Trace is launching as one of our premium Huawei Video partners in South Africa. Trace’s localised approach produces premium content that showcases Afro-culture and spans across various genres and languages, perfect for our users to watch on their Huawei devices,” explained Sun Jun, GM of Huawei Consumer Business Group SA at the time of the announcement.
For those unfamiliar with Trace TV, as we were at the time, it would now make South African music shows, sports series, and short films available on its platform, with pricing ranging from daily, weekly and monthly subscriptions.
To gain a bit more insight into the content that would be on offer, as well as what this means for content creators across the African continent, we recently spoke with Valentine Gaudin-Muteba, MD for Southern Africa & Regional director for Anglophone Africa at Trace, about the partnership and what is in store for 2021.
The time is now
Given that Huawei Mobile Services and the AppGallery is relatively new in terms of its local lifespan, the first thing we wanted to know was the reason behind the partnership. For Trace it was very much about seeing an opportunity and making the most of it now. This makes sense, given that the vast majority of video content is consumed on mobile in Africa.
“Our mission at Trace is to entertain and empower our people to stand up and shine, so we are always open to new opportunities to make Trace content more accessible to consumers, and to be part of the telling and sharing of African stories globally. Huawei is a partner that aligns well with our goals,” notes Gaudin-Muteba.
Sticking with alignment, the MD adds that the partnership came about at a time when Trace was actively searching for local content,
“Huawei video comes at a time when Trace is actively working on producing more original content. Part of this journey includes empowering Afro-Urban content creators by giving them platforms to tell their stories. Huawei is one such platform and we engage with local content creators to help us produce more content,” she highlights.
While the partnership is still very fresh, it does indeed look like there is interest in accessing Trace TV via Huawei Video, according to Gaudin-Muteba.
“It’s still early days but we are pleased with the uptake so far. Users have been engaging with our content and the numbers are steadily growing, demonstrating that youth are looking for content that represents them and their stories,” she enthuses.
Plans for growth
In its announcement, Trace TV noted that much of its content is on the shorter side, with it usually ranging from five to 30 minutes. While that still remains the case today, there are plans to get longer form content, specifically filmed and produced locally, to the fore.
“Short form content works well on our continent. Not only does it address the shorter attention spans of viewers today but it also requires less data to stream and data is often a barrier to entry in the streaming world,” says Gaudin-Muteba.
“For now, we are heavily focused on short form content but as our partnership with Huawei grows, our strategy will evolve as needed. With the recent acquisition of a Cape Town based production company – Okhule Media – our content strategy is also shifting to longer and premium content,” she adds.
While we await longer form content, there is already content available via Trace TV that has given Africa creators a platform. The MD specifically highlights Ayepyep and Skip Skip as examples, noting that more are on the way via their aforementioned Cape Town production partner. “Many more Trace shows that are locally produced in partnership with local producers and Okhule media will be launched on the platform throughout 2021,” teases Gaudin-Muteba.
Along with content, the plan is to launch Trace TV via Huawei Video in other countries and territories in the coming year, the MD confirms.
“Our goal is to get as many people as possible to discover and consume our content. We hope to see the numbers continue to increase as we add more content. We want consumers to genuinely love what Trace has to offer on the platform. We are also looking at rolling out the service in other African countries with Huawei,” says Gaudin-Muteba.
Lastly we asked the Trace executive about plans to roll out the TV platform to other devices within the Huawei ecosystem, such as Honor Smart TVs for example. On that front, she remains coy, choosing not to divulge much, but stating that they are a possibility.
“Our partnership with Huawei is an ever evolving one. If conversations lead in new directions and we are all aligned, anything is possible,” she concludes.
With the content creation and entertainment industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s hoping partnerships like the one between Trace and Huawei yield more opportunities for those with stories to tell.