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Netflix Bets on Naija to Stream Its Way to the Top

Netflix Bets on Naija to Stream Its Way to the Top

By Sabrina Lynch

  • Netflix aggressively acquires the rights to African movies & shows

  • Nollywood generates more than $600M for the Nigerian economy

The world’s leading streaming service Netflix (NFLX -0.21%) is turning to Africa to expand its content offering. They bought the rights for movie  blockbusters “October 1st”, “Lionheart” and animated series “Blood & Water.” Netflix is tapping African talent to lead the way for its original programing, and this could finally be a sign that streaming services are recognizing the cultural and monetary value of African storytelling.

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Why This Matters: The Western world has slept on the economic worth of Africa-based studios, directors and producers for far too long. The Nigerian movie market, also known as Nollywood, is a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to India’s Bollywood which generates an average of $2.63 billion a year, more than Hollywood in the U.S.  Netflix currently invests $13 billion on original content and paid $3.8 million for Lionheart’s license.

Netflix currently invests $13 billion on original content and paid $3.8 million for Lionheart’s license

If Netflix continues to secure exclusive licenses and content from African production companies, it will significantly impact employment rates across the continent. Specifically, Nigeria alone could profit from a million more jobs as Nollywood generates more than $600 million for its economy.

With Amazon (AMZN +0.16%), WarnerMedia and Disney (DIS -1.45%) providing stiff competition, Netflix needs to act quickly to diversify their content, especially if these entertainment powerhouses decide to remove their library of shows for their own streaming services. Having added 7.3 million new international subscribers in Q4 2018, Africa will be vital to fend off threats to Netflix’s subscription growth. It also will make VOD companies that specialize in African storytelling, such as iROKO Partners, step up their game when it comes to distribution models.

Situational Awareness: Africa is prime territory for movie & TV moneymakers. Streaming services provide a global platform for African creatives to showcase their work to multiple markets. It also allows entertainment companies to financially benefit from the continent’s prolific film & TV industry.

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