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2018, Year that Witnessed first Nigerian Netflix Original

Picture by Oluseye Oyelakin

Before 2018, Nigerian films were distributed locally via channels including television stations,  compact disc retail shops and newly developed platforms such as the Ebony Life TV (which prides itself as Africa’s first global network for authentic media and entertainment) and globally on the Netflix streaming platform. One major challenge faced by filmmakers was the dominant issue of piracy- in fact, some movies premiered in pirated copies even before the release dates. Notable figures like Kunle Afolayan led a protest to fight this issue.

A scene from Lionheart film.

In 2018, Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) witnessed its first Netflix Original with the production and release of Lionheart, a drama film produced by Chinny Onwugbenu and directed by Genevieve Nnaji. This exclusive collaboration fully launched Netflix into the Nigerian Film market as the popularity of the movie triggered the acceptability of the streaming platform by Nigerians both home and abroad.

Nollywood has been recorded to be the second largest in the world contributing an estimate of 580 million dollars to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. Asides from the concern of creating cinematic masterpieces, Nigerian filmmakers often target international film festivals and widely watched streaming platforms such as Netflix. Prior to the release of Lionheart, Nigerians had enjoyed other films originating from other countries with a popular stereotype that films on Netflix are more standard than the local contents.

Presently, there are over 50 Nigerian films, documentaries and Netflix Originals produced in Nigeria and widely streamed across the world on Netflix. With a dedicated Twitter handle, Netflix Nigeria goes to the grassroots language to publicise new Nigerian films on the platform.

According to NETFLIX IN NIGERIA by Brittney Johns, it is estimated that by the end of 2023, there will be an estimate of 16 Million Nigerian subscribers on Netflix generating up to 163 million dollars.

Picture by Oluseye Oyelakin

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