The next big battle for the future of media is the streaming wars. Its a war already 30 years in the making starting in the US in the early 90’s with then video giant Blockbuster and relatively new upstart, Netflix. 30 years later, almost every major media network playing in both traditional and digital spaces launching their own streaming services as a way to profit off their content and corner their own niche of the market.
Even Nigerian independent studios are launching streaming platforms. There is Ebony Life On, Linda Ikeji TV and Scene One Productions from Funke Akindele. With Nigeria’s thriving entertainment industry and the proliferation of Nigerian-centric film and television content, it was only a matter of time before Netflix set its sights on the country. Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart certainly had something to do with that. It was the first African independent film project bought by Netflix for an exclusive wide release for a rumoured 3 million dollars. Netflix must have recouped the investment because since they have steadily bought the streaming rights for a number of high profile Nigerian films and shows, much of which will make the foundational content for Netflix Naija.
N is for Naija. 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! pic.twitter.com/js8z3LIyM3
— Netflix Naija (@NetflixNaija) February 25, 2020
But Netflix creating a dedicated Nigerian service changes the game significantly. In 2016, they signed a partnership with Nigerian internet service provider Spectranet to manage dedicated Netflix servers on its network. Dedicated servers means less buffering when watching shows using the apps and less data consumed. This new announcement, complete with a constellation of A-List Nigerian stars suggests that a Nigerian directed project is coming soon and will most likely feature many of the actors featured in their promo image. Following the buzz around their successful launch of South African Original Queen Sono, there will pressure to see that the Nigerian contigent either meets or surpasses that.
No pressure, Akin Omotoso.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.