The digital age has given rise to the easy dispersion and availability of information and entertainment. The streaming boom that has accompanied it has made room for big mainstream services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to chalk immense successes, growing the industry rapidly over the past decade. However, these giant streaming companies often do not host content that portrays black people and black culture in a flattering light. Due to this, some people have taken it upon themselves to create alternatives to the mainstream platforms; streaming services that are focused on telling African and Afro-Diaspora stories and preserving the story-telling parts of these cultures. Mobile devices are commonplace nowadays, making streaming a norm and, in certain instances, even, a necessity. So if the mainstream services are not satisfying your cultural needs or are churning out content you would rather do without, or you are just looking for some diversity in your entertainment lineup, it only makes sense that you look to satisfy your needs elsewhere. Here is an unordered list of 10 such streaming services that traffic in African and Afro-Diaspora content:
Translating to ‘Truth’ TV from Swahili, Kweli TV serves high-quality content from African and Afro-diaspora producers. It “celebrates the African Diaspora experience, community and culture through dope, undiscovered documentaries, films, web shows, children’s programming, news and more.” According to its website, about 98 per cent of its films are official selections at film festivals, and more than half of that percentage go ahead to win awards.
NdaniTV claims to be Africa’s premier online media platform for original African entertainment. Ndani translates to ‘inside’ from Swahili and to take you inside Africa. Their content is fresh, unique, entertaining and of definitely African. It was established in 2012 and has cemented its place with hit shows like Gidi Up, The Juice, Skinny Girl In Transit and many others showcasing the best of African art, fashion, film, business, sports and much more.
American Legacy Network has been putting a lot of work into preserving and documenting the African-American experience in America. Available on the network are ‘classic black films and documentaries, original programming and in the near future scripted historical dramas,’ content and materials the entire family can enjoy.
NollyLand claims to be Africa’s First World-Class movie platform and was designed and built by Africans. There are thousands of hand-picked African movies that are viewable on various devices and on any bandwidth using one NollyLand Account. The platform provides adaptive video streaming, a watchlist to personalize movie choices, intuitive searching and categorization and host of other handy features. They also support producers and movie owners in monetizing and promoting their premium movies under their own brands.
Black on purpose TV provides users with streaming content that aims at erasing the negative programming of people of colour in the general perception of non-coloured people. It also provides an avenue for content creators to build and monetize audiences and provides advertisers with the platform to directly engage consumers of colour. Started in 2013, BOP TV claims to stream over 8,000 individual bodies of content across 24 channels to 4.5 million daily viewers around the world which makes it the largest African-American owned streaming network in the world.
Launched on December 1, 2011, Iroko TV is one of Africa’s largest internet channels. The platform hosts “the very best of Nollywood” and Africa’s most popular movie choices. With their tall list of hit movies and awesome original TV series playing on the IROKO apps, TV channels and via their global distribution partnerships, they surely are one go-to platform for African storytelling.
Brown Sugar has an extensive library of iconic black movies from the 1970s and the later films they inspired, all un-edited and free of commercials as they were originally seen in theatres. The service is an offspring of Bounce TV.
Borne out of the constant rejection of Afro productions by mainstream services due to their unmarketable nature to white audiences, X on demand seeks to be the one-stop-shop for all things Afro, connecting and entertaining the global black audience. The service currently has over 30,000 subscribers and “all films and series submitted are directed, written and/or produced by a person of Black/African descent and have at least one lead character that is Black.”
Blackbox movies is a video streaming service that allows users to access a selection of black TV shows and movies and the latest movie releases. It is black-owned and operated, and gives subscribers access to popular TV and cable shows like Blackish, Queen Sugar, and Claws.
The name BLACK&SEXY is a spin-off venture from the 2008 Sundance Film Festival project A Good Day to be Black and Sexy and is an entertainment and lifestyle network that tailors its programming to focus “on a young, progressive, Black audience who seek a truer reflection of their modern culture.” The channel started off on YouTube and was free for 3 years until the monthly paid subscription service that features exclusive series, movies, and special footage.