It seemed just like yesterday when Nigerians lost their voices in their giddy celebration of the purchase of Genevieve’s “Lionheart” by streaming giant, Netflix. It also feels like a generation ago because we have now seen that there is nothing too special with being purchased and featured on Netflix – we have seen too many terrible movies make it to streaming pages. Netflix is worth billions of dollars and boasts of 161 million subscribers on the planet, so it was big news when, in late February, Netflix Naija announced that they would be creating original series from Nigeria. The made the announcement on Twitter.
“N is for Naija,” the tweet read. “N is for Nollywood. N is the 14th alphabet. 14 is also how many great talents you’re looking at. N is for Netflix. But most importantly…hello, Nigeria!”
The terrible tweet is simply saying that Netflix is now in Nigeria and are about to launch their first Made for Netflix in Nigeria movies. There are two series on the cupboard. One of them, the most advanced in production, is to be directed by the trio of Akin Omotoso, Daniel Oriahi, and CJ Obasi and will start with six episodes. The film stars Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye, and includes Ireti Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, and Kehinde Bankole in the cast.
“It tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death,” Deadline.com said of the show. The other show which has (in various degrees of probabilities) Ramsey Nouah, Nonso Bassey, Banky W, and his wife Adesua Etomi as part of the cast is yet to has definitive progression.
What does Netflix Naija mean to Nollywood?
It probably means more profit for Netflix
“Movies like ‘King of Boys’, ‘Merry Men’ and ‘The Bling Lagosians’ have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies,” Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was quoted as saying. “So, we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world.”
There, they said it. There are over 120 million Nigerians on the internet and only 50 thousand or so on Netflix. This is not a good figure. Netflix is trying to make an inroad into Africa, they have entered Egypt and South Africa since 2017 and they would feel they need Nigeria if they must cement their hold on Africa (According to Businessday.ng, Nigerian internet is super slow, ranking 176th in the speed index at the end of 2019. This is a sticky point but not a game-changer). We may not be a rich country, but a large chunk of internet users in Africa live in the Niger area, it is easy to understand why Netflix executives’ mouths should water.
It is not good news for Iroko TV
Own by digital entrepreneur and investor Jason Njoku Iroko TV is a streaming platform that includes channels on DSTV which has a library of up to 5000 movies and in which you can have access to for as low as 3000 naira for one full year. You can download movies there as well for offline watching. Iroko TV claims to have up to 500 thousand subscribers from more than 200 countries.
The Legend of Inikpi is a missed opportunity
The bulk of Iroko TV subscribers are from Nigeria. With Netflix coming into Nigeria, Iroko TV should be concerned. While it would take them up to a decade to make a dent on the kind of numbers Iroko boasts on its library, Netflix doesn’t need Nigerian movies to steal Nigerian subscribers off Iroko TV. The strategy is to attract Nigerians with ensembled and well-hyped movies and then keep them there with the plethora of movies from Nollywood and elsewhere.
The immensely cheaper option of Iroko TV should help allay their worries.
It is one more step away from cheap Upper Iweka version of Nollywood
Whenever people try to attack Nollywood as inferior, I usually ask them when last they went to the cinema? The cinema aside, we have Mnet dramas on Africa Magic Urban, Showcase, and Family. We have Iroko TV’s channels and website. We have Ebony TV. We have web serial platforms such as Ndani TV. We have Super Story. These are all avenues where you can find half-decent to decent Nigerian movie content. With Netflix Naija originals, we can now say to 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