StarNews Orange Deal Lets African Celebrities, Fans Connect

An Africa-focused platform that allows fans to directly interact with celebrities for a fee is teaming up with France’s Orange SA to reach millions of people on the continent and help artists monetize their fan base.

StarNews Mobile, which operates a similar model to Cameo in the U.S., allows famous people to converse with and send mobile videos to their fans. For Orange, the deal will enable the carrier to provide additional content to customers across its 15 African markets.

“The partnership with Orange represents an enormous boost in our expansion strategy,” StarNews Chief Executive Officer Guy Kamgaing said by e-mail. “We believe consumption of local content over mobile in Africa will take off in a massive way.”

Technology and e-commerce firms are targeting Africa as a young and fast-growing population becomes increasingly active online. Challenges include lower household incomes and high data prices, though the ubiquity of smartphones is making it easier for them to operate and grow.

StarNews and Orange adapted the platform to allow users to pay a small daily or weekly subscription fee, and the service does not require users to pay for data, Kamgaing said. Fans can then subscribe to their favorite African celebrities such as Nigeria’s Lord Sky or Congolese singer-songwriter Fally Ipupa and receive exclusive content about their daily life, behind-the-scenes videos, and the opportunity to win concert tickets and meet celebrities in person, he said.

Ipupa made $100,000 from interacting with fans on the platform in 2020, the CEO said. Overall revenue is shared monthly between the celebrity, the mobile operator and StarNews, he said.

StarNews, which has a head office in California, has a similar deal in place with MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless carrier by subscribers. The platform has about 5 million users.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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