Netflix Is Investing In Nigerian Original Content

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Nigerian original content
U.S. online video streaming service Netflix has announced that it is developing Nigerian original content with two Nollywood series in production. Photo by Parker Knight from Pexels

U.S. online video streaming service Netflix is betting on original content from Nollywood, one of the world’s largest movie industries.  

Netflix has announced that it is developing two original Nigerian series, according to Variety.

The on-demand streaming service previously acquired rights to several Nollywood movies and series, beginning with the acquisition of a movie called “Lionheart” in 2018. 

This is the first time that it is investing in producing Nigerian content rather than acquiring an already completed project, Weetracker reports.

One of the two planned Nigerian series is expected to be a six-part show set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos. The series tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death, according to OkayAfrica.

Nollywood employs more than 1 million people and has grown fast due to the ability of under-pressure film crews to shoot a full-length feature in a week, according to Forbes.

Producing more than 50 movies per week, Nollywood has the second largest output in the world. Only India’s movie industry, Bollywood, produces more.

Netflix has 167 million subscribers globally and annual revenue of around $5.8 billion. Increasing its original content in Nigeria could appeal to audiences in Africa’s most populous country — population, 190 million. 

Netflix does not publish subscriber numbers for countries outside of the U.S. and a 2019 report studying Netflix’s top 50 markets did not include Nigeria.

The 50th country on the list was Luxembourg with around 66,000 subscribers, so Nigeria has less than 66,000 Netflix users. South Africa has the largest Netflix subscriber base in Africa — an estimated 195,000 users.

In 2018, Netflix announced its plans to commission original series from Africa. 

Since then, the streaming service has commissioned a Zambian animation series called “Mama K’s Team 4,” and two South African series — “Blood and Water” and “Queen Sono“, according to Pulse.

“Queen Sono” was released on Netflix at the end of February.

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On Feb. 25, Netflix announced its increased focus on Nigeria through a tweet from its new Netflix Naija Twitter account. 

“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!,” read the tweet alongside an image featuring some of the A-Listers in Nigeria’s film industry.