Why Nigerian Filmmakers Are Running To YouTube

Well, first because cinemas are tough, and require revenue sharing, with no certainty that investments will bring return, or when, or how much if they do. 

Oh and ask Toyin Abraham, there is also all that easy piracy on Telegram, that the Nigerian government doesn’t really care to pay attention to as it struggles with a collapsing Naira, even though local production for dollar earnings is Economics 101 for shoring up the naira. 

And also, there is a very limited number of streamers, in case you haven’t noticed. Not just Amazon returning to cheap licensing, but also its really just Showmax and Netflix, and Disney’s threat to enter the market has not been realized in any way, especially considering its silence after Apple quietly withdrew from the market. 

So a slew of filmmakers have taken low budget audience delights to a platform with minimal gatekeeping and assured revenue. 

Rest of the World has a report on this: Another popular Nigerian filmmaker, SeunOloketuyi, decided to start releasing his movies on YouTube in 2022, after battling piracy for years. “All it takes is just one person going to the market to buy one copy of the CD and send it to the U.K. and the U.SThe person in these countries makes multiple copies and sends them to multiple African stores.” Oloketuyi has since released six films exclusively on YouTube, and plans to release two more before the end of 2023. 

He and Yekini are among a growing crop of filmmakers in Nigeria — home to Nollywood, Africa’s largest film industry with around 2,500 films produced annually — who are using YouTube as a movie streaming platform. They told Rest of World they consider it a more democratic alternative to Netflix, Prime Video, and Showmax. Uploading their content on YouTube allows them to control the distribution of their work, without fear of piracy. 

The money is small, perhaps less than $2000 per movie, but it is steady, it is wholly owned and it it depends only on the audience, the only true market that exists. 

Per Rest of the World: Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, a Nigerian film critic, told Rest of World. “For low-budget productions, YouTube has had the most impact. For those who have built a following on the platform, there’s no real revenue sharing, [unlike] cinemas,” he said. “There are also lower expectations of quality —  something Nollywood loves. You don’t have to shoot in multiple locations, even if your script calls for it. Low costs, dollars, obscure revenue sharing. What’s not to love?”

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