It seemed like yesterday when the Nigerians lost their voice when they celebrated the streaming giant Netflix buying Genevieve’s “Lionheart”. It also feels like a generation ago because we have now seen that it is nothing special to be bought and featured on Netflix – we have seen too many terrible films that have made it to streaming sites. Netflix is worth billions of dollars and has 161 million subscribers on the planet. So it was big news when Netflix Naija announced in late February that they would create original series from Nigeria. That made the announcement on Twitter.
“N is for Naija,” was the tweet. “N is for Nollywood. N is the 14th alphabet. 14 is also how many great talents you see. N stands for Netflix. But most importantly … hello, Nigeria! “
The terrible tweet simply says that Netflix is now in Nigeria and is about to release its first Made for Netflix films in Nigeria. There are two series on the cabinet. One of them, the most advanced in production, is staged by the trio of Akin Omotoso, Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi and begins with six episodes. The film plays Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye and includes Ireti Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Witz Silva, Bimbo Akintola and Kehinde Bankole in the cast.
“It tells the story of Kemi, a goddess who was born again to avenge her sister’s death.” Deadline.com said of the show. The other show, which has (in different probabilities) Ramsey Nouah, Nonso Bassey, Banky W and his wife Adesua Etomi as part of the cast, has not yet made any final progress.
What does Netflix Naija mean for Nollywood?
It probably means more profit for Netflix
“Films like” King of Boys “,” Merry Men “and” The Bling Lagosians “have shown how much our members love Nigerian films,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “We are incredibly excited to invest in Made in Nigeria stories and make them accessible to audiences around the world.”
There they said it. There are over 120 million Nigerians on the Internet and only about 50,000 on Netflix. That is not a good number. Netflix is trying to penetrate Africa. They have been in Egypt and South Africa since 2017 and feel they need Nigeria if they want to consolidate Africa (according to Businessday.ng the Nigerian Internet is very slow and ranks 176th) the speed index at the end of 2019. This is a tricky point, however no game changer. We may not be a rich country, but a large proportion of Internet users in Africa live in the Niger region. It’s easy to understand why Netflix managers should water their mouths.
It is not good news for Iroko TV
Owned by digital entrepreneur and investor Jason Njoku Iroko TV is a streaming platform that contains channels on DSTV, that contains a library of up to 5000 films and that you can access for only 3000 Naira for a year. You can also download movies there to watch offline. Iroko TV claims to have up to 500,000 subscribers from more than 200 countries.
The legend of Inikpi is a missed opportunity
The majority of Iroko TV subscribers come from Nigeria. Iroko TV should be concerned with Netflix in Nigeria. While Netflix would take up to a decade to contain the number of numbers Iroko has in its library, Netflix doesn’t need Nigerian films to steal Iroko TV’s Nigerian subscribers. The strategy is to attract Nigerians with compiled and well-hyped films, and then keeping them there with the plethora of films from Nollywood and elsewhere.
Iroko TV’s immensely cheaper option should help alleviate their concerns.
It’s another step away from the cheap Upper Iweka version of Nollywood
Whenever people try to attack Nollywood as inferior, I usually ask them when was the last time they went to the movies? Apart from the cinema, we have Mnet dramas about Africa Magic Urban, Showcase and Family. We have the channels and the website of Iroko TV. We have Ebony TV. We have serial web platforms like Ndani TV. We have super story. These are all ways you can find reasonably decent to decent Nigerian movie content. With Netflix Naija originals, we can now tell people who will never agree that Nollywood can be good and move away from the weaknesses of its cheap version, Go to Netflix.
Image source: Twitter