The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, produced its highest movies in five years in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, but piracy is crimping the industry’s profitability.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nollywood produced 635 movies in Q2’ 2021 compared with 626 movies produced in the same period last year. Its growth in Q2’ 2021 is the highest compared with the same period in the last five years.
“Piracy tops the list of the film industry’s many challenges fuelled by weak enforcement of Nigeria’s copyright law,” analysts at FBNQuest note.
“In the digital era of today, piracy has morphed into illegal download and distribution of movies without paying for them. Other challenges include lack of financing, poor infrastructure, and inadequate capacity,” the analysts say.
According to the World Bank, for every legitimate copy (of a Nigerian film) sold, nine others are pirated. As at 2014, an estimated N82 billion was reported to have been lost by Nollywood alone to piracy. There are currently few legal channels for exporting movies; little or no returns go to the film makers.
Challenges such as lack of financing and poor infrastructure also hinder Nollywood’s full potential.
Nollywood is the second largest film producer globally in terms of value, the number of annual films, revenue, and popularity, second only to India’s Bollywood.
The industry’s radical growth in movie production occurred in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and cinemas were shut.
Film producers took advantage of the pandemic-fuelled video streaming trend on platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and other indigenous digital platforms, a movie producer told BusinessDay.
Netflix, for instance, recorded an additional 37 million paid memberships last year.
The Nigerian entertainment sector was identified as one of the priority sectors in the 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) because it represents a potential growth driver for the economy.
Nollywood is a significant part of the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Sector that contributed 2.3 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, but its contribution declined to 1.22 percent in Q2’ 2021.
Despite its huge economic potentials for transforming Nigeria’s economic status, its continued growth hinges on the sector’s ability to address certain challenges.
However, the key to unlocking Nollywood’s full potential is in addressing these challenges, according to experts.
PwC, a leading consulting firm, has projected that Nigeria’s Entertainment and Media (E&M) industry’s revenue will rise from $7.68 billion in 2021 to $14.82 billion in 2025.
Analysts at FBNQuest recommend that given the recent popularity of video streaming, the industry must also take advantage of improving internet penetration to expand the reach of its offerings.
Also, collaborations and co-productions with global film producers are encouraged to increase the industry’s exportable content and improve its visibility outside of Africa.