Nigeria’s Film Industry

Nollywood (Nigerian Film Industry) is the second largest movie industry globally in terms of output, producing about 2500 films annually. This number is higher than America’s Hollywood and is second to India’s Bollywood.

1Image Credit – Ventures Africa

According to Gainmore Zanamwe, Senior Manager, Intra-African Trade Initiative, African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank), Nollywood has been estimated to generate between $500 million and $1 billion annually in revenue. It also reportedly employs 300,000 people and more than 1 million people indirectly. Zanamwe noted that Nigerian movies recorded the largest patronage across Africa and was globally accepted. He made this public at the 47th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos in 2019.

Presently, there is a very strong cinema distribution model in Nigeria that aids in recouping investments and increasing profits. This has spurred the production of large budget films that have amassed huge revenues. Movies like The Wedding Party 1 and 2 which grossed about N453 million and N433, 197,377 respectively, which is about $1,175,676 and $1,124,282.70. Chief Daddy which grossed N387,540, 749 and Sugar Rush which grossed N287,053,270 which is $1,005,789.47 and $744,993.03. The Wedding Party 1 and 2 and Chief Daddy thus far are the top three highest grossing Nigerian movies and they are Ebonylife productions.

Ebonylife Productions is a division of Ebonylife TV. It is owned by Monsumola Abudu popularly known as Mo Abudu. She launched Ebonylife films in 2013 and its debut movie production, Fifty, grossed about N87 million ($225,792.21). She executively produced Fifty in 2015 and has subsequently released globally renowned, top earning movies like The Wedding Party 1 and 2,Chief Daddy, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and other notable movies and series. These movies were acquired by Netflix after their cinema runs. Mo Abudu in June 2020 signed a multi-title deal with Netflix to create two original series. Earlier than that, in 2018, Ebonylife struck a three series deal with Sony Pictures Television.

2Image Credit – Nolly Mania

With the local and global achievements of Ebonylife films, it is a clear indicator of how highly lucrative the Nigerian film industry is.

Video on Demand (VOD) is a service that allows users to select and view videos when they choose instead of watching live broadcasts. Subscription-based Video on Demand (SVOD) offers weekly or monthly payment systems before content is viewed. A number of SVOD platforms exist in Nigeria. Ones like iROKOtv, SceneOne TV, IbakaTV and LITV. Ebonylife recently launched one, Ebonylife ON (EL ON).

iROKOtv is the most active media streaming service. If is the largest licensor and distributor of Nollywood movies with over 5000 licenses of Nigerian films in its collection. It is owned by Jason Njoku and was launched on 1st December, 2011. iROKOtv is the world’s largest legal, digital distributor of African movies.

3Image Credit – Martin Stubbs

ROK films, a division of iROKOtv was founded by Mary Njoku, wife of Jason Njoku in August 2013. It has produced over 540 films and 25 original TV series according to its company data. ROK went further to launch channels on the DSTV cable platform on 1st November, 2016.

The global strides, feats and success of Ebonylife and IROKOtv coupled with the statistics of revenue amassed by the Nollywood industry annually reveal the potential for profitable investments.

4Image via Wikimedia Commons

Netflix, global video streaming platform launched its Nigeria subsidiary, Netflix Naija in February 2020. Prior to this, it had acquired several Nigerian movies and series which had been added to its streaming platform. Multichoice, parent company of DSTV recently launched Showmax Pro, a streaming service for on-demand streaming and live TV. Shomax was first launched in 2015 and has now been reformed to Showmax Pro in a bid to dominate Africa’s streaming market.

According To GFK’s 2018 International ViewScape survey, about 92% of Nigerian adults with Internet access now use some form of free online video service while 55% of them pay to watch digital online content. GFK is Germany’s largest market research institute and the fourth largest market research organisation in the world. In 2018, Multichoice CEO, Calvo Mawela blamed Netflix for their loss of over 100,000 subscribers.

In 2019, Nigerians spent N6.7 billion ($17,325, 985) on movie tickets. This report was released byi CEAN. CEAN is an association of cinema owners, operators and managers incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria . This statistics report revealed over 200% increase from the estimated N2 billion ($5,171,936) spent in 2018. This is remarkable when you note that there are less than 100 screens across Nigeria. It shows the growing cinema culture in Nigeria.

The present and future projections of the Nigerian entertainment shows how promising it is. It is a very vast industry and the penchant by Nigerians for quality entertainment reveals that revenue and profit made from it will always be on the increase. Whether investments are made in cinema film productions or VOD streaming platforms, there will always be returns on investments.

The move by subscribers to online streaming services is evident in the success of iROKOtv, the recent launch of the Nigerian subsidiary of Netflix and the upgrade of the streaming platform. The only current challenge to VOD streaming is data costs, even though Nigeria supposedly has the most affordable Internet in Africa. If investments are to be made into the VOD service, one has to innovate around data issues and the entertainment demand clime at the time of investment. iROKOtv first launched in 2011 as an online streaming service but after studying problems it posed to its revenue generation and profit making, it stopped. However, the Nigerian entertainment sector is globally acclaimed and investments into it will definitely yield returns if done properly with extensive research into desired investment areas.