Nollywood, the term of endearment bestowed upon Nigeria’s thriving film industry, is the world’s second largest film industry (after India’s Bollywood industry) – in terms of volume (including home-videos, shorts and feature films).
According an online article Lights, camera, action! How Nollywood is boosting travel in Africa Nollywood produces 2,000 releases (major feature-length official releases) annually and in the region of 200 videos for the home video market per month.
In February 2012 a feature in The New York Times said of the country’s film industry “the $500 million Nigerian movie business churns out more than a thousand titles a year on average, and trails only Hollywood and Bollywood in terms of revenue.”
Thisisnollywood.com suggests that the average production is completed within a matter of ten days and costs in the region of $15,000. The final product is often short in length (an hour or so in some cases) and done on a shoe-string budget.
A simple search online will reveal the extensive amount of information pertaining to the industry, about those who work and operate in it, and the level of production that is helping to keep the industry at the forefront of global movie production and entertainment.
It will also show that the Internet and mobility have played an instrumental role in the distribution of movies and making material accessible to the general masses.
ITNewsAfrica takes a closer look at available Nollywood movie services online – services that allow the user to access and watch movies, and share the experience online with others. These services are listed according to user experience, the level of choice of material available and the degree to which it facilitates movie viewing.
Arguably one of the most prolific and well-known digital entertainment services from Nigeria, movie streaming platform iROKOtv falls under the IROKO Partners banner. iROKO Partners was launched in December 2010 and, according to its website, the company has built a global audience of over 6 million unique users from 178 countries. The brainchild of Jason Njoku, iROKO Partners first negotiated a deal with YouTube, purchased online licenses to distribute movies and began streaming full-length Nollywood movies online under the name Nollywood Love. iROKOtv was started in January 2012 and is said to have reached 500,000 registered users in its first 6 months of operation. There are a number of categories pertaining to movies and TV shows, all of which can be further separated according to release date, highest rated and most views.
This site is clearly focused on ensuring the user is able to access and experience as many titles as possible. There are a number of sections, movie categories and also links that cater for English speaking viewers, as well as users who want to sample titles under the ‘All Yoruba’ and “IBAKA Gold’ headings. In addition to the offer of engaging with an online operator for assistance or added information (so the social networking aspect is also covered), movies are introduced by name and by picture for quick and easy reference. There are movies of the week, trailers and the latest uploads – as well as a link to comprehensive profiles on actors and their photos. The site is designed to facilitate watching and includes a FAQ section to assist and guide first-time users.
A clear, neat and effective website, tagged as ‘The Internet Movie Database for Africa’, that covers the A-Z of the Nollywood industry. Aside from being able to watch a wide selection of titles, the site also features links to different movie genres, an area for trailers, biographies, as well as news and photographs. One certainly gets the entertainment ‘buzz’ from the site with the offer of details on what is opening on a specific week, new movies for the month and a list of the most popular. What is also very advantageous to the visitor is an accessible database of recently featured titles under the heading ‘Recent Nollywood Articles’.
Online video streaming service TVNolly showcases the very best that Africa and Nollywood has to offer. The service is owned by technolog company NULTAN and streams both free and paid on-demand movies to 150 countries globally. The selection of titles is impressive and there are several categories available to users. One can also view the most popular titles and TV series, along with shorts or ‘bits’. Mini pop-up information tabs are linked to each title displayed, which helps the visitor with selection by offering a quick overview with information about the genre, actors and a star rating.
There are no prizes for guessing what this service is all about. One is immediately drawn into the sheer number of movies that are available to download – close to 200. There are several sections including ‘being watched’, ‘new releases’, ‘recently added’ and ‘top rated videos’. Movies are displayed with a picture, their title, running time and category. Watching any of the titles is really simply a matter of clicking through to the link and sitting back to view the movie. The site includes actor profiles as well as a membership section. Another interesting feature of the site is the built-in rating system that affords browsers the opportunity to discuss movies and not only comment, but also rate other comments. There is also a link to an online store through which people can purchase gadgets and other merchandise.
Really a complete package, Nollywood Pictures TV was founded in 2012 and represents a consortium of Nigerian film producers. The service provides a link to a full selection of movies, in just about every category, and also features popular movies, trailers and soon to be released titles. There is also an area on the site dedicated to Nollywood industry gossip, via a dedicated blog, for users to keep ahead of what is being talked about, when, why and where. The visitor can also make use of a FAQ section to help navigate and ensure the best possible user experience.
Nollywood by Mindspace is space on the global social network Facebook dedicated to Nollywood. With it being accessible via Facebook, it has drawn widespread support and, at last count, had 360 000 ‘likes’ and is an effective forum through which to reach a higher number of people and expand Nollywood’s extensive reach. There are trailers available to watch, with pictures and news about actors and actresses. The emphasis is obviously on the social aspect of experiencing and sharing Nollywood, but the page does reflect user interest and talking points, what is trending within the industry and what people want to watch.
Dedicated entirely to reflect all aspects of Nigeria’s film industry, one of the reasons this website stands out is because of its core business of linking Nigerian films with the global film industry and its commitment to the support of up-and-coming producers and promoting the industry’s network. In addition to a wealth of information about actors, actresses, movies, rumour & gossip – as well as extensive coverage of Nollywood fashion, special reports and ‘behind-the-scenes’, the self-proclaimed “largest marketing/distributors and retailers of Nigerian movies worldwide” also states that it will run premiers of movies before they are released in Nigeria and Africa. Accessing material is also straightforward.
Upon face value a force to be reckoned with amongst the online world’s multitude providers of Nollywood product. The site ticks the volume box immediately and the visitor has a choice of the best of Nollywood and Yoruba movies, trailers and video clips, as well as home videos and shorts. One will notice the variety upfront and accessing the footage is not complicated. With the number of titles available, under several categories including gospel, funny, newly released and most popular, the viewer is spoilt for choice – so much so, that it is difficult to source an accurate quota of the number of titles available.
Easily one of the most straightforward and quickest ways to access Nigeria’s plethora of movies online, a dedicated channel on YouTube.com features a number of home-video samples. One can immediately tell that the audience is the mass market and the platform is freely available for anyone to upload a video. The user will have to have the latest Adobe Flashplayer software programme installed to be able to access the material. One of the advantages of YouTube is that the user is able to view material from a variety of sources, so there is an immediate opportunity to compare quality and quantity. Obviously reliant upon public submission, there are a vast number of search options to source the latest Nollywood films, some of which can be watched in their entirety – others are merely samples/ trailers.
*Image source via Shutterstock
Chris Tredger – Online Editor