The Media Blog: Maybe we should be thanking HiTV

Has there been any day where you were on Twitter between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 pm, and didn’t come across a hashtag for one of the Africa Magic’s daily programs? Hush, this year’s telenovela, is the undeniable leader of the pack. But there’s also the scrappy upstart, Hustle, a comedy which, while still finding its footing, is gaining considerable traction. There was Hotel Majestic, the first Africa Magic telenovela, and likely the one that inspired a host of subpar others – Casino and Taste of Love, anyone? And who can forget the runaway success of The Voice Nigeria earlier this year?

And then of course, there’s Tinsel, the flagship soap opera that’s currently in its 8th year of airing. 8 years, guys. That is unprecedented in Nigerian history. And that is where it all started.

But what goes almost completely unacknowledged in telling this story, is just how much of a role HiTV had to play in the development of Tinsel, and, by extension, Nigeria’s TV landscape today.

Think about it. It’s 2007. HiTV launches, snatching the broadcast rights to the English Premier League right out of the hands of DSTV. Multichoice, realizing its precious monopoly was being eaten into by the Nigerian upstart, decided to look elsewhere for market share. Thus Tinsel was born. Originally airing on the Mnet West Africa channel, the show is now one of the flagship programs on Africa Magic Showcase channel (itself the result of a steady expansion that has seen the Africa Magic brand grow into 8 channels over 10 years.)

Of course we know how things went after. DSTV regained the rights. HiTV crumbled. But by that time, Multichoice had already realized there was serious potential in the business of local content, and continued to double down. The rest, as they say, is history. (And that of modern Nigerian TV cannot be told without this chapter.)

So, while we’re lashing Toyin Subair for wasting his chance and allowing DSTV to continue to do anyhow with Nigerians, maybe we should also thank him for shaping the future.

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