Of Netflix, iROKOtv and DSTV

Ope Adeoye 3 minute read

Netflix announced yesterday that the streaming service will now be available in a number of countries where it was not before. Including Nigeria. The usual "disrupt" crowd has started getting excited again. This is me jumping into the kpotokpoto too and adding my opinion to the hype and noise. No vex oga...

No, Netflix is not going to kill DSTV.

At least, not in the forseeable future. I read online that Netflix can consume 7GB per hour. Ehn!? Say who die? So if I want to watch an entire season of House of Cards in HD, what will happen? Our data services are simply not there yet. Maybe quality-wise we are getting close in some neigbourhoods, but pricing-wise, it can't support this yet.

Will the people in Multichoice be exchanging evaluation emails? Highly likely. Will they be in panic mode? I seriously doubt. There are also a number of other factors like content. Local content. Sports (EPL anyone?). Zeeworld-type tinz... What's Netflix going to do about the Nigerian apetite for these things? Also, for the early adopter crowd who follow the kindof content Netflix is known for, there's already a "Hard Drive Content Sharing Economy". It happens to be free. For all these reasons and maybe more, DSTV, Startimes are safe. For now. 

Yes, Netflix will impact iROKOtv. Slightly.

Even though I have read this, I believe Netflix will impact iROKOtv. And Dobox. And whomever else is in that space. Albeit only slightly. Why? Na so dem dey ask pesin. Make I answer.

I believe the bulk of willing-to-pay iROKOtv or Dobox audience in Nigeria is upper middle class. Likely not a large number. I also believe they pay for these services because of the local content. As long as Netflix does not have as wide a selection as the local guys, cannot put boots on the ground to increase subs like the local guys, they wont make much of a dent in their business. Don't forget again, these businesses (revenue-wise when the press is stripped off) are likely small beside Netflix. Really small. More like tiny.

Needless to say, it's some of these subscribers that will show interest in Netflix and be willing to pay. For most, it would be yet another subscription to shell out money for not an alternative. But there'd be a small subset who will not be willing to pay double money and find themselves skipping their iROKOtv payments once in a while in favour of Netflix. This is the minor dent I think Netflix should expect.

While I definitely do not know the streaming/media business like the current players do, I suspect the right thing for our partially-local companies to do is to position as local content providers and "sourcers" for Netflix, Hulu and the like. Go back to the old days of what makes iROKOtv, iROKOtv. Nollywood Love. Finding content, cleaning it up and distributing it at channels you don't own. For a cut.

The Nigerian market may not be that big to Netflix

You see, by virtue of what I currently spend my work hours doing, I have had to work (or attempt to work) with a number of global tech "giants" and a theme keeps coming back. Even with our 40x million internet users in Nigeria (or what's the latest buzz number?), the African market is a tiny dot in the scale of their operations.

What the regular Emeka in Nigeria (all 40x million of us) uses internet for is WhatsApp, email at times, Linda-type-content and Facebook. Once you take us bleeding-edge-TechCrunch-and-TechCabal-reading crowd out, there's not many people left who are aware of these unique services and are willing to pay. An acquaintance even joked and said "at head office, they refer to us as a rounding error in the company's books". Will a global brand put in the effort and investment required to set up a local office and activate the market? Not yet.

The global players that will enjoy the potentially large Nigerian market are the ones willing to get on the ground and make the investments that will activate that market. In any sector. Entertainment. eCommerce. Payments. 

Ah, payments. I have strong opinions about that one. I dey come.