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Amazon, Netflix’s battle for Nigeria viewers relegates local streamers

Amazon Prime Video and Netflix

The streaming wars are heating up in Nigeria, as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix battle for viewers, with local streamers struggling to compete.

These two global giants have been steadily growing their subscriber bases in Nigeria, and they are currently locked in a fierce battle for market leadership, making it tough for local streamers to retain an audience.

The number of subscribers to local streaming services is gradually falling as viewers are switching to these international streamers and this trend is likely to continue as they continue to invest in local content and offer more competitive pricing.

According to an anonymous filmmaker and content producer, the streaming wars are making it harder for local streaming providers to compete. Amazon and Netflix have the financial resources to invest in high-quality content, which local services simply do not have.

“Local streaming services will need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition if they want to survive.They need to focus on their strengths, such as their knowledge of the local market and their relationships with Nollywood producers,” he said.

On August 4, 2022, Amazon Prime Video announced launching a localised version of its service in Nigeria and tagged it Prime Video Naija, which has put a direct competition with Netflix, the major streaming service in the West African country.

However, Amazon did not enter the race blindly. It included marketing techniques to help it compete effectively. It began by swiftly launching a cheap Amazon Prime subscription, followed by seven days of free streaming access, and increased investments in local content production for Nigerian customers.

It went to social media to announce that Nigerian customers can stream more than 20,000 original TV shows and movies within its ecosystem.

To further establish itself, it also revealed that Nigerian subscribers could pay in local currency – the Naira, even as it decreased services to N 2,300 per month. This price contrasts with Netflix’s basic plan category of service, which limits customers to watching on a single screen at a time and limits the number of phones or tablets on which he can have downloads, but just N2,900 per month.

Read also: Analysis: Nigeria’s film industry grows on AMVCA

Prince Nnamdi Adigwe, an International film & Tv Executive, said Netflix has done a great job with their market strategy, pioneering high budget local production, as well as offering local content to a global audience which increased demand.

“They acquired local content to prime the market then commissioned Original content in Partnership with selected proven filmmakers in key markets (Nigeria being one). Their Acquisition strategy revolved around buying local Theatrically released content while commissioning Series”.

“Amazon came into the market with a different strategy by sourcing alternative content. Licensing and commissioning original content from emerging filmmakers and exploring other genres”.

He went on to say that in terms of viewing, streaming has always faced the difficulty of high data costs to customers. Subscribers frequently avoid dual subscriptions (Data and Streaming services). Amazon Prime has a bundled offer in partnership with MTN that Netflix does not have, giving it a competitive advantage.

The development of streaming services like Netflix, which has established itself as a major participant in the international entertainment market, has been one of the main drivers of Nollywood industry expansion up to this point and even beyond the local eyes to attract more global audiences.

According to a report, between 2016 and 2022, Netflix invested $175 million in these markets or around $29 million each year of operation. Since entering the Nigerian Nollywood market in 2016, Netflix has committed $23.6 million to more than 250 locally-produced, co-produced, and commissioned video content.

The video streaming market in Nigeria is still relatively young, but it is growing rapidly. The country has a large and growing population of young people who are increasingly interested in streaming content. This is a major opportunity for streaming services, and the battle for market leadership is likely to be fierce.

“Tastes are evolving. Increasingly, people are looking for more authentic stories that truly reflect our values, experiences, dreams, and ambitions. People want high production value in the films and basically, see themselves reflected in those stories. They also want different genres beyond the usual suspects( romcom, comedy)” said Tolulope Olamide Ajayi, Film Director & Chief Creative Officer

Ajayi said Netflix and Amazon are addressing these by expanding the genre to high-concept action films, Grand cultural epic movies, adaptations of popular literature, and faith-based and horror movies.

According to research, the arrival of these streaming platforms has helped some Nollywood filmmakers gain from their works. For many years, the Nigerian film business relied on home video distribution.

As more and more people around the world have access to the internet and smartphones, the number of potential subscribers to video streaming services is increasing. This will give streaming services a larger pool of potential customers to draw from.

Content is king, and the audience is global, according to Cassandra Onwualu, a film producer and distribution & acquisitions consultant. As a result, local streamers like Showmax, Iroko TV, and IbakaTV must improve in all areas of their craft, including storytelling, production value, and marketing.

“Better movies, among other things, will translate to better licensing deals”, she said.