Netflix faces tougher test in Nigeria as Showmax, Amazon up investments

Netflix’s plan to rejig its strategy to stop subscribers from leaving its platform through a cheaper subscription option and a clampdown on password sharing face tougher tests in markets like Nigeria, where Amazon has since April stepped up its recruitment efforts to boost its business plans for the country.

Showmax is also ramping up investment in content with new shows like Real Lagos Housewives. A report by Stears puts Showmax ahead of Netflix in market share. The MultiChoice-backed streaming platform owns 31.6 percent share of the market ahead of Netflix at 29.7 percent. Amazon’s talent hunt is also targeted at boosting its market share in Nigeria.

Amazon is hiring for the African market for Prime; when they are done with establishing Prime in Africa, I don’t know the fighting chance Netflix will have,” Seun Agbelusi, a film content creator, said.

In a job posting on its website, Amazon Studios said it was looking for a London-based head of Nigerian originals. The candidate will be an experienced senior creative executive working with the Nigerian Originals team. The preferred candidate will report to the Head of Originals for Africa and Middle East.

“You will have day-to-day oversight of the creation and growth of Amazon Prime Video’s slate of local original content from Nigeria. You will leverage your hands-on development/production experience, high judgment, collaborative spirit, and deep industry knowledge to bring a slate of projects to life to delight Prime Video customers everywhere,” the company said.

Amazon Studios also has three open roles for Nigeria, namely senior scripted series creative executive, senior movies creative executive and creative development coordinator. All the positions are based in London.

Experts say Amazon’s latest hunt for Nigerian talents is an indication that the company is ready to increase its role in the streaming market in Nigeria. Amazon Prime has in recent times moved to boost its presence in Nigeria, which has the largest entertainment industry in Africa and the second biggest film industry in the world.

Despite its size, Nollywood is reportedly valued at just over $6 billion but with potential to become the country’s most lucrative export. The industry churns out about 2,500 films on a yearly basis. In 2021, Nollywood generated $687 million for the country’s economy, a 2.3 percent contribution to the GDP.

Prior to the streaming services, Nollywood has dominated screens within Nigeria and across Africa but it has lagged in attracting global audiences. It also struggled to explore opportunities with African diaspora communities around the world. The streaming services like Iroko Tv, UKTVNow, Redbox TV, Nigeria Live TV, Netflix and Showmax are now making it easy for global audiences to access movies from Nollywood.

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service, however, has its sights on controlling a large size of the industry and has secured the signatures of different producers and directors in multi-million dollar deals.

But the company’s latest subscriber report showed it has lost 200,000 subscribers globally for the first time in 10 years. Netflix says it expects to lose a further two million over the next three months. The company’s share price dropped more than 35 percent following the announcement, wiping around $55 billion off its value.

Read also: Netflix points to competition, password sharing as users drop

As a result of the losses, Netflix said in the coming years it would launch a cheaper, ad-supported subscription option for users, crackdown on people who share their passwords and reduce spending on movies and TV programming.

Netflix’s subscriber loss is likely to bring relief to existing streaming operators hoping to catch up with the speed of investments in content from Netflix in Nigeria. Netflix has a global investment budget of $15 billion for original production and licensing. Amazon is not likely to have any problem matching Netflix in content investment.

In December 2021, Amazon signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with Amazon Prime Video. It also signed another multi-year deal with Anthill Studios in Lagos. The deal makes Prime Video the exclusive global streaming home for Anthill’s portfolio of films.

It is also a move to source new content from a continent many believed has largely not explored most of its rich cultural heritage.

But some experts say Netflix can grow subscribers in markets like Nigeria by solving access to internet speeds.

“Any Netflix conversation about potential subscriber growth in Africa – Nigeria specifically, where it is investing – should consider the availability of requisite internet speeds for HD streaming there,” said Tambay Obenson, a cinema professional. “It might (pay) Netflix to offer a package of some kind to beleaguered customers around the world. For example, a Netflix subscription combo that includes broadband internet service.”