Nigeria’s Streaming Woes: Slow Adoption Challenges Netflix and Local Platforms

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Despite Nigeria being Africa’s most populous country with a significant mobile user base, the adoption of streaming services, including Netflix, faces challenges. The success of Nollywood films on Netflix, such as “The Black Book,” doesn’t necessarily translate to widespread adoption within Nigeria. Internet penetration remains low, and economic challenges, including rising poverty and unemployment rates, contribute to shrinking consumer income. While streaming platforms produce local content, their marketing efforts often target Nigerians in the diaspora, who may have a higher disposable income.

Key Points:

  1. Success of “The Black Book” on Netflix:
    • “The Black Book,” directed by Editi Effiong, has achieved significant success on Netflix, becoming the most-watched Nollywood movie with 11 million views. However, the majority of viewers are reported to be from South Korea rather than Nigeria.
  2. Netflix Subscriber Statistics:
    • Netflix’s subscriber statistics in Nigeria are questioned, with reports indicating only 169,600 paid subscribers out of a population of 106 million bankable adults. South Africa leads in paid subscribers, accounting for 73.3% of the 1.6 million subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Challenges for Streaming Platforms in Nigeria:
    • Nigeria’s slow adoption of streaming services is attributed to factors such as low internet penetration, economic challenges, and declining purchasing power. Streaming platforms, including Iroko TV, have faced challenges in generating significant revenue from the Nigerian market.
  4. Iroko TV’s Investment and Revenue Trends:
    • Iroko TV CEO, Jason Njoku, revealed that between 2015 and 2020, the company invested $30 million in Nigeria but faced declining subscriptions. The company shifted focus to North America and Western Europe, where 80% of its revenues were generated.
  5. Economic Challenges Impacting Streaming:
    • Nigeria’s economic challenges, including the removal of petrol subsidy and naira devaluation, have led to record-high prices of goods and services. This has further constrained people’s income, impacting the potential for widespread adoption of paid streaming services.
  6. Preference for Free Content and Illegal Access:
    • The challenge of illegal access to content without consequences is linked to poverty, ignorance, and inadequate copyright policing. Many Nigerians have a preference for not paying for movies and shows available for free through bootleg channels.
  7. Investment Disparities between South Africa and Nigeria:
    • Netflix’s report indicated a total investment of $125 million in South Africa and $23.6 million in Nigeria. Despite Nigeria having more titles, the economic challenges and streaming dynamics contribute to the investment disparities.
  8. Global Streaming Industry Economics:
    • The subscription video-on-demand industry grapples with the rising cost of creating content, and global streaming giants have faced accounting losses despite generating substantial profits.

Nigeria’s streaming industry faces challenges rooted in economic factors, low internet penetration, and a preference for free content. While Nollywood content gains global recognition, generating significant revenue from the local market remains a hurdle for streaming platforms. The disparities in investment between South Africa and Nigeria reflect the complex dynamics of the streaming landscape in the region.


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