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Netflix expands to Africa with new original TV series Queen Sono

The streaming company announced its first African original series, signaling it’s serious about growing on the continent.

Netflix expands to Africa with new original TV series Queen Sono
Pearl Thusi [Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen]

Netflix is stepping up its investment in Africa by launching its first-ever African original series, Queen Sono. 

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The spy dramedy, which is set in South Africa, will star Quantico actress Pearl Thusi and will debut next year. Thusi announced the news with a tweet on Monday, saying: “It’s going to change the game for every artist on this continent.”

She went on: “Thank you to Netflix for believing in this idea. I cannot wait for every young woman, every woman on this continent and actually this planet to meet Queen Sono. We have worked so hard for this and I cannot wait.” 

The show will focus on a complex female character much in the style of other Netflix shows like Jessica Jones and House of Cards. It will be produced by Tamsin Andersson and directed by Kagiso Lediga, the same team behind the Netflix original film Catching Feelings, which is also set in South Africa and stars Thusi.

The move is part of Netflix’s global expansion as it seeks to offset the slowing growth of domestic subscribers. Today, the company operates in more than 190 countries around the world, and 79 million of its 137 million subscribers are from outside the U.S. With a population that favors watching TV shows and movies on smartphones and tablets, South Africa is a key target for Netflix. According to a Nielsen survey that polled more than 30,000 online users in 61 countries, 63% of South Africans use a streaming service and 79% do so at least once a week. 

Netflix has been available in South Africa since 2016 and has proven to be a popular option due to its price–about $9.99 a month for a standard package–ease of use, and content offerings. Amazon Prime is also available in the region. It’s estimated that Netflix now has between 300,000 and 400,000 subscribers in South Africa. 

In an attempt to boost that growth, the company recently changed its pricing to rands instead of dollars, so that the fee no longer fluctuates based on exchange rates. And it’s adding to the platform’s content offerings. Beyond investing in local productions like Queen Sono, it’s introduced more titles that have proven to be popular with local audiences, such as Girlboss, Mindhunter, and Troy: Fall of a City. 

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About the author

Nicole LaPorte is an LA-based senior writer for Fast Company who writes about where technology and entertainment intersect. She previously was a columnist for The New York Times and a staff writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Variety

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