Nollywood and Nigerian Music: Redefining the Industry through Digital Distribution

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Agusto & Co. Report

Over the last three years, the Entertainment Sector has evolved into a more important segment of the Nigerian economy, on the back of the growing number of blockbuster movies coupled with the export of Nigerian music. The Nigerian Entertainment Industry is a significant part of the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Sector, contributing ₦156.5 billion to Nigeria’s GDP in 2018. The Sector has gained international recognition with Nigerian film and music being demanded abroad, on account of the growing population of Nigerians in the diaspora.

The Industry is considered a good platform to promote the brands of large organisations. These promotions have in turn increased the popularity and financial worth of brand ambassadors through endorsements, thereby, growing the industry in general. The film and music industry is a veritable source of employment and means of livelihood to a larger population.

The sale of CDs/DVDs has typically been the major mode of film and music distribution in Nigeria as well as the major source of revenue to the industry as a whole. However, in recent times, distribution has moved beyond the regular physical method and has gone digital to a much larger extent. Films and music content are now being streamed online and can be downloaded for offline views. The Nigerian film market has a significant number of online streaming platforms. IROKO TV, Nigeria’s leading streaming platform for Nigerian and Ghanaian contents has made film streaming more convenient from any mobile device. With many Nigerians having busy schedules and having limited time to go out to the cinemas, online TVs have become handy. Viewers have unlimited access to Nigerian films with as low as ₦3,000 annual subscription fee. Other online streaming platforms such as Ebony Life TV, SceneOne TV, and FilmhouseTV, also provide avenues for online streaming of Nigerian film content.

Our distribution has gone global. Netflix, an American media-services provider is gradually becoming the target of many Nigerian filmmakers with over 30 million subscribers globally. Although airing of Nigerian films on Netflix started in 2015, Genevieve’s “Lion Heart” was the first Nigerian film to be acquired by the platform, with “Mokalik” by Kunle Afolayan being the second in 2019. Other than acquiring Nigerian-made films, the platform also airs Nollywood films for the viewing pleasure of its subscribers. This has expanded the industry’s audience internationally as Netflix has a wide range of subscribers from different parts of the world. Going forward, we expect more Nollywood film acquisition by Netflix as well as more films being showcased on the platform.

The Nigerian Music Industry has also embraced digital distribution of content, with various music digital distributors such as Boomplay, Apple Music, Habari by GTBank, where music audios can be streamed and downloaded on the scene. Nigerian musicians also see these platforms as avenues to generate income. YouTube has also contributed to the revenue generation of the Industry as the number of views on a musical video, translates to money. Musicians such as Ayodele Balogun, popularly known as WizKid and David Adeleke (Davido) with 768 million and 134 million views respectively on their YouTube channels1, will smile to the bank with revenue generated from these platforms.

Nigerian music has also expanded its distribution network, with songs being featured on foreign online streaming platforms such as Apple Store, Spotify (limited by location). This has positively impacted the foreign exchange earnings of Nigerian musicians through royalties, which are typically earned in foreign currency. Despite the positive trends recorded in the Industry, specifically in the digital space, we note that piracy has moved from the streets and has gone digital as well. With the high rate of internet penetration, pirates have advanced to pirating online. This has broadened the piracy market, causing legitimate online marketers to lose some of their viewers to these pirates, ultimately reducing the industry’s revenue. YouTube is one of the major channels used by pirates in Nigeria to market visual and audio entertainment. Although digital pirates are on the rise, original content owners in conjunction with YouTube can take down pirated contents. We, however, see piracy both physically and digitally continuing in the near term with an adverse impact on the Industry’s growth.