Buhari legacy

Nigeria’s 123 million internet users missing on Netflix top 50

The no-show of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as one of the top 50 Netflix subscribers in the world – a list which had South Africa in it – lays bare the many loopholes to the country’s claim to internet dominance in Africa.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of internet subscribers rose by 5 percent from 116.31 million active internet lines in March 2019 to 122.7 million by July 2019.

The Netflix data from Comparitech, a US-based research, and data organization, showed that the US contributes the most subscribers with an estimated 58, 486,000, Australia comes in second with 11,262,000and the United Kingdom places third with 9,780,000 subscribers. As a policy, Netflix does not reveal the number of subscribers it has but the company recently revealed that it had suffered its first loss of US subscribers and had failed to add its target of 5 million international subscribers in the first half of this year (adding just 2.7 million).
The company’s shares, as a result, fell 1.8 percent on Monday to close at $265.92.

Read more: Smart Tvs sending private data to Netflix and Facebook

While the drop in Netflix subscriber base and revenue may be significant, it is the news that Nigeria was not among the top 50 contributors to Netflix subscribers base that has much talked. Netflix’s first distribution in Nigeria was in 2015 when it bought the rights of Nollywood movies such as October 1 by Kunle Afolayan, Biyi Bandele’s Fifty and several others. In 2018, at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, that the company announced that it has bought the rights of Genevieve Nnaji’s blockbuster movie Lionheart. It was the first of many African movies Netflix will be investing directly as it pushed to build more local content on the continent.

With more local content, one would expect growth in subscriber base in Nigeria, but the report shows otherwise. The 50th country on the list, Luxemburg has 52,151 subscribers, which could suggest that Nigeria has far less than 50,000 Netflix subscribers. South Africa the only African country on the list, came in at number 41 with about 152,588 subscribers.

Jason Njoku, founder of Iroko TV, a Nigerian video on demand (VoD) firm said Nigeria not featuring on the list does not come as a surprise. Iroko Tv dubbed the ‘Netflix of Nigeria’ has been providing video on demand since 2013 but is yet to hit the one million subscriber mark. Although a Nigerian-based service, as of 2017, users in Nigeria were trailing users in the United States.

“People were shocked at Netflix (alleged) subscribers numbers for Nigeria? Why? Airtel Nigeria and MTN average revenue per user (ARPU) is $2.8 and $4.5,” he tweeted. “Nigerians are super price sensitive and pretty poor. In 2018, 57 percent of MTN data users were incidental, 0-5mb per month.”

Netflix offers three streaming video plans that start as low as $8.99 per month and top out at $15.99 per month. Depending upon which plan a user chooses, you can get higher-quality video (including 4K Ultra HD) and family-friendly features like the ability to watch video on more than one screen at a time.

To stream videos on Netflix, users require about 1GB of data per hour, provided they are streaming in standard definition. Those streaming in high definition (HD), on the other hand, use up to 3 GB per hour.

According to a recently released survey by Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Nigeria is amongst the countries with the cheapest access to the internet in Africa as of December 2018. For example, one gigabyte in South Africa costs $10.4 while in Nigeria, it is $2.7.

Nevertheless, internet data pricing in Nigeria is largely determined by the quality of network service and the income levels which are largely very low. Whereas a user in South Africa is guaranteed to use a $10.4 worth of 1GB data in a month, a Nigeria user may need to buy three times of a 1GB to go through the month. In essence, to enjoy a one hour HD video on Netflix, a Nigerian user requires $27 worth of data.

Since 2014, per capita income in Nigeria has been treading down. The per capita income declined to $2,049 in 2018 from $3,268 in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By implication, video streaming services like Netflix are a luxury for the average household in Nigeria.

Amara Nwankpa, director, Public Policy Initiative at Yar’ Adua Foundation noted that the average internet speed in Nigeria is 1.5mbps.
“You need at least 3mbps to watch Netflix at DVD quality. 5mbps for HD and 7-12mbps for 4k,” he said.

According to the UK-based price comparison site, Cable, Nigeria’s internet download speed also went from bad to worse. The report showed that Nigeria’s internet download speed is ranked 176th of 207 countries in the world. It takes an average of over 7 hours (7:18) to download an HD movie of 5GB in Nigeria. This means that Nigeria’s internet download speed has deteriorated in the past two years from 95th in 2017 to 176th in 2019.

Editi Effiong, a Nollywood movie producer noted that Netflix publicity may also not be working.
“The real question therein is “why is Netflix not spending on user acquisition in Nigeria” and the answer goes right back to the top of this thread,” he tweeted.