Recently I have noticed a flurry of Video on demand services that have popped up over the last few years in Nigeria. From the establishment of Iroko TV by a British Nigerian returnee Jason Njoku a lot of players like Dobox, Buni TV and Afrinolly have come into the game. Even africa magic the nollywood TV station on DSTV has gotten into the act though their VODoffering is only accesible outside Africa.
All this is a positive development and has opened up another avenue for monetization for visual content producers where there has been a slowdown in the market. Many of the producers and Alaba marketers have gone out of business due to the slow DVD sales in the market (why buy or rent when you can watch it for free on africa magic, a major reason many producers are refusing to sell their works to them) and the VOD companies are proving to be the only avenue of monetization for many producers.
There are impediments in the VOD industry most especially the matter of data subscription in a country where internet connection is more expensive than in the west and the fact that most people browse on phones. But the impediments are being addressed as internet costs are coming down and many people are subscribing to the internet. (65 million at the last count in 2013)
With this the industry is hotting up as more entrants have come into the market most especially Africa magic and dobox who’s partnering with the telco company MTN and buni TV who have as one of their shows caricature comedies of the president and his cabinet.This has increased the price of getting movies and made producers smile again though they demand better quality of the visuals.
Iroko TV the market leader and innovator started out as a free service making money from adverts but right now they are migrating to the paid subscription model and will soon stop offering the free service. Many VODs are offering a free service (even the Alaba movie producers are putting their movies on youtube) but are having difficulty making a profit. But Iroko TV is cruising as they have more than a million subscribers (though only 100, 000 in Nigeria) and are growing substantially with foreign venture capital firms investing up to 20 million dollars in Iroko.
The Nigerian film industry has always been innovative in one way from the other since its creation in the 90s and with the lack of cinemas in the country the Video on demand services could be a way out for Nigerian movie lovers to follow their stories. But the free nature of their service and the small size of the Nigerian advert market ($350 million) is putting the squeeze on all of them. It will be inevitable that many of them will fizzle out and the survivors will have to charge people for watching movies online.
With the rampant piracy the winners will be those who can successfully offer quality movies on the mobile internet. The shape of Nollywoods market will also change as more tech savvy customers are reached and demand better quality movies which will increase the quality of movies as the cinemas have done instead of the housewives and rural folk on which Nollywood was built.
I believe that in the near future except the cinemas make their offerings more price friendly to Nigerians instead of targeting the elite (who don’t like Nigerian movies anyway) VOD services through laptops and mobiles might be the principal way we might be watching Nigerian movies and series. What do you guys think?
Jovi Babs is an Actor/ Writer/ Producer/ Entrepreneur and an eternal optimist who hopes for a 180 degree change in the industry that butters his bread.
You can read more on his website via: http:www.jovibabs.com
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