Soon after the launch of the much-talked-about streaming service Linda Ikeji TV, it was reported that the platform gained 10,000 subscribers in the first three days. I could have been part of that number, if not for the undesirable stream of negative reviews I came across on my Android app store, ranging from technical glitches to overdebiting of subscribers.
To be frank, Linda Ikeji has done so well and LiTV is still in its early days, so there’s nothing that can’t be fixed or improved on. Coming from a gossip blogging career where she developed a fervent brand of cult fandom, Linda Ikeji has had her own share of failures – the egregious Linda Ikeji Social, the social platform that was extinguished before it caused any further embarrassment.
Learning from that failure, the streaming landscape is now hers for the conquering, having acquired the best hands to properly mould LiTV into existence. In a recent interview with Business Insider, LiTV has been in development since June 2017. “I had to understand that I was a novice producer but I’m not a novice at putting things together,” says Linda, “As a producer, I was learning on the job. So, we made some mistakes. We hired a few people who didn’t know what they were doing and we had to bring in more professionals. We have gotten it right now. But, that’s why it took us that long to put the shows together. There are over 35 shows. One year is not a bad time to produce that amount of content.”
One of those shows, Oyinbo Wives of Lagos, became the pulpy, glamourous headliner for the arrival of LiTV, modelling itself in the image of The Real Housewives franchise. Fun fact: About half a billion went into setting up LiTV, and permit me to say Wow, all that cheddah gurllllllll. The platform currently has no original movie content, only reality series, but Linda isn’t in a hurry. “I want to make completely different movies from what you have seen. My vision for our movies is totally different from what Nigeria currently produces, so I’m not ready for movies now.”
Linda, if you are reading this, can you sign me up? But seriously, there are 93 million Nigerians on the internet and Linda is looking for 1%, which is like a million. “My goal is to get a million subscribers in two years. So I’m looking for a million Nigerian internet users who will subscribe every month. That way, I will be making billions.”
Huh??? Hold up, Linda. I know you are a businesswoman and all but with that tone, you sound like you are just after our money! I saw comments like this bleeding into the review section of the LiTV app: “Why can’t we have a free trial before blindly paying for something that doesn’t work! “I think I’ll stick to my Netflix, thanks!” “I can’t just put my account details, why no PayPal?” “There’s not even a download option, aaaaahhhh!”
What drove Linda Ikeji Blog to stupendous success was traffic, especially from Nigerian readers in the diaspora who readily had access to the internet, and caused a seemingly unbreakable chain of advert revenue for the blog. It was like a TMZ for Nigerians, uncovering and touching on the sordid, messier parts of Nigerian celebrity life. And people loved it, were hooked on it. With LiTV, Linda seems to be banking on that formula which, in this case, is a surefire way of alienating most would-be subscribers based in Nigeria.
The reality now is this: purchasing data in a country like Nigeria is bloody expensive. There was nothing like streaming in Nigeria during the epoch of Linda’s blog, so Nigerians were primarily concerned with Facebook and Nairaland and routinely visiting news sites to stay informed. It was an internet diet that was affordable and almost blissful in its simplicity. Even Netflix, created in 1997, didn’t first operate as a streaming platform until years later.
These days, it will be disingenuous to say that the average Nigerian is a Netflix subscriber. The ones who do are slightly financially capable of bearing the data drain for their favourite series, and sometimes cushion the effect by watching or downloading via the limitless WiFi access in their offices (I’m guilty of this but Netflix is life, baby).
I’m not too familiar with the pricing system on LiTV, but I know Linda has broken it down to pocket-friendly packages. Still, how much content can a N1000 monthly subscription fetch you? I’m dimly aware that Linda still plans to graft LiTV into the cable field, where it will join behemoths like EbonyLife and iROKOTv. In assuring Nigerians of a better future while she smiles to the bank, Linda concludes the interview, “Hopefully, the internet will be better and they will realize that it doesn’t cost too much to watch these things. It’s like when you are watching Netflix, how much does it take?”
Can someone tell Linda that Netflix is a different cigar? The media mogul already knows her biggest market for LiTV will be Nigerians in the diaspora, and I congratulate her, and hopes that when we Nigerians over here are “ready,” she will be waiting. Another fun fact: we will never be.