Mo Abudu, owner of EbonyLife TV recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horsemen, Lola Shoneyin’s Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives along with two other originals.
Though there is yet no public mention of the figures involved, it could run into hundreds of millions of naira, based on Netflix’s acquisition of Nigerian movies in the past. This could have an impressive impact on Nigeria’s GDP as Nollywood is said to account for up to 5% of the country’s GDP.
The TV producer recently took to her Instagram handles to tell her 728k followers about how she secured the rights to the books.
Death and the King’s Horseman
About Soyinka’s play, the journey to secure rights to the book started in 2015 when Abudu approached Wole Soyinka to make an offer on the rights to produce the drama into a film series.
According to Abudu, this play was a first choice for her when she first decided to venture into production of produce IP related projects. It took 5 years of discussions and negotiations to finally seal the deal, which now involves global streaming platform – Netflix.
For Professor Wole Soyinka, he has no doubt that the product of this partnership will be of impressive global standards and quality.
“Mo Abudu’s incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating. It becomes part of one’s sense of achievement if one has contributed, however minutely, to the creation of an enabling environment,” he said.
Securing rights to Lola Shoneyin’s prose
Abudu revealed in her post that her desire to produce the book started from reading the book in 2017. She was immediately struck by the plot, she said, and she knew it would make a great film or TV series.
And so, for the last three years, it has been series of meetings and negotiations, eventually culminating in the Netflix deal.
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Good morning beautiful people. It's been such a glorious weekend ❤❤❤ Once again, thank you all so much for all your beautiful messages. I am so excited about our slate of projects with Netflix, and our first Netflix Original Series will be THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI'S WIVES. I had heard so much about the book and l only got round to reading the book in 2017. As soon as i finished reading it, I knew this had to become a film or TV series, my next assignment was tracking Lola Shoneyin down and convincing her to give me the rights to the book. 😂😂💃🏿💃🏿 Oh boy was I in for a ride or what 😂😂, my concerns ranged from would she trust me, would we get on, would we support each other as women and so much more was playing on my mind, but I kept an open mind and approached Lola with complete transparency and honesty about my intent and desire to acquire the rights to Baba Segi. One meeting led to another, this took a minute 😁😁, but I was patient, we have over the years become friends and eventually the deal was done 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽. But I must add, that on meeting Lola we just connected, it was as if I had known her all my life. We have the most fascinating discussions and she cracks me up non stop 😂😂😂. Dear Lola, thank you so much for trusting me with this precious work. ❤❤ We are super excited about partnering with Netflix on bringing this story to millions of people around the world. Below is a quote from Lola, which forms part of the press statement issued on Friday : “I was thrilled when Mo contacted me about making a show out of my novel ,The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I’d turned down so many offers but this one felt right. It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer.” #MoAbuduXLolaShoneyin #BabaSegiComingToNetflix #AfricaRiseAndShine #NigeriaToTheWorld #EbonyLifeChangingTheNarrative #netflixebonylifepartnership
About the deal, Lola Shoneyin said in her statement that she had turned down several other offers to make a show out of the prose, but Abudu struck her as the right person for the deal.
“It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer,” Shoneyin said.
Casting begins for the Netflix original
Mo Abudu gave rundown of the plot of the book in a recent post, and asked for suggestions on characters for the book.
“I value your feedback and opinions. Who would you like to see play these roles from the most talented line-up of Nigerian actors you love and respect? Please do not forget, we need oscar winning performances o!!,” she wrote.
The role of Baba Segi got nominations like Jide Kosoko, Kunle Bamtefa, Akin Williams, while Rachel Oniga, Sola Sobowale, Eniola Badmus, Ngozi Nwosu were nominated into Iya Segi’s role.
Ireti Doyle, Bisola Aiyeola, Toyin Abraham was also nominated for the role of Iya Femi, the second wife.
Funlola Aofiyebi, Nse Ikpe Etim, Bimbo Akintola, Kate Henshaw were nominated to play the role of Iya Tope, while the role of quiet but sophisticated Bolanle got nominations like Omoni Oboli, Sharon Ooja, Kehinde Bankole, Kemi Lala Akindoju, and Adesua Etomi Wellington.
For Soyinka’s play, Abudu also summarized the plot and requested nominations from her followers.
Being a culturally intense plot with poetic lines, there is a need to use actors who understand the culture and can interpret it in the theatrics.
There were nominations like Femi Branch, Baba Wande and Richard Mofe Damijo as Elesin, Joke Silva and Iya Rainbow as Iyaloja, Hafiz Oyetoro, Seun Ajayi, Odunlade Adekola, Ronke Oshodi, Lateef Adedimeji Kehinde Bankole/ Bisola Aiyeola, Demola Adedoyin, Fausat Balogun among others.
Fans are sure looking forward to the screen productions, and there are hopes as well that the originals will not be star-studded but allow a few new actors in the industry.
First Bank Partners UN1TY Nigeria as lead sponsor of The Voice Nigeria
The reality music-talent show will be sponsored by First Bank of Nigeria.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has, on Wednesday, announced its lead sponsorship of the TV reality musical talent show, The Voice Nigeria, Season 3.
The Voice Nigeria is a music talent show organised by Un1ty Nigeria to discover, nurture and bring to the fore musical talents amongst the next generation of Nigerian youth.
In a release seen by Nairametrics, the company revealed that the winner of the show will receive N10 million naira cash; a brand new car and an exciting one-year recording contract reward with Universal Music.
For the first time ever, the Voice Nigeria will be produced in Nigeria and aired on DSTV channel (Africa Magic) Startimes and terrestrial TV channel (AIT), amongst other leading television stations in and outside the country.
According to the release, the talent hunt will start with blind auditions to be submitted upon being shortlisted after a successful registration. The registration for audition will be open till 19 September 2020.
“The Voice Nigeria will be hosted by Denola Adepetun (aka Denola Grey), Nancy Isime, Toke Makinwa and the coaches are Dare Art Alade, Folarin Falana (aka Falz), Yemi Alade and Aituaje Iruobe (aka Waje),” the release read.
Speaking on the talent hunt show, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank, said;
“We are delighted to be the lead sponsor of The Voice Nigeria, this partnership is hinged on our Brand’s passion to empower and invest in our youths. First Bank has given voice to the young and indeed all Nigerians for the past 126 years, and will continue to give voice to Nigerians by creating employment, economic empowerment in the country through our products, services and initiatives.
“We remain committed to strengthening the creative industry which is fast growing into a multibillion-dollar business, with potential to be a leading contributor to Nigeria’s GDP in the near future.”
Ani-Mumuney commended UN1TY Nigeria for the programme targeted at youths, noting that applicants have to be within the age of 18 to 50 years and resident in Nigeria for 12 consecutive months.
Sit-at-home entertainment: What Nigerians spend on DStv, Startimes and online streaming platforms
Nigerians would have to cope with increasing prices from these service providers.
One of the spillovers of the pandemic is the recent ban on large gatherings and outdoor entertainment.
After being stuck at home for three months, we have moved to a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown where certain guidelines still hold sway. Gatherings of more than 20 people are still considered forbidden; cinemas are yet to open, and the same is the case with viewing centers and other relaxation spots.
Nigerians, like people all over the world, still have to sit at home and find ways to amuse themselves. Although the general impression is that sitting at home should provide cheaper entertainment, this is not true.
Subscriptions to PayTV and online streaming platforms are not free. Unstable electricity supply also means that Nigerians, more often than not, have to use generating sets to get power. Amid all of these, Nigerians still have to cope with increasing prices from these service providers.
Reviewed prices from PayTV
In July, StarTimes, one of Nigeria’s PayTV operators, announced an upward review of its subscription prices from August 1, 2020.
With the review, the price of the basic bouquet moved from N1,300 to N1,700 monthly offering 80 channels, while the classic bouquet price moved from N1,900 to N2,500 monthly offering 100 channels.
Smart bouquet moved from N1,900 monthly to N2,200, while Super Bouquet moved from N3,800 monthly to N4,200. However, the lowest bouquet, being the Nova bouquet, remained N900 with over 43 channels.
Viki Liu, StarTimes’ brand and marketing manager, said during a virtual press conference that the price increase was caused by the increased value-added tax (VAT) rates as well as the foreign exchange rate which had impacted the company’s cost of operation.
“Our business is not exempted from the effect of the naira depreciation affecting all businesses in the country. All of our foreign content is bought in dollars and to continually serve our subscribers the best content, the subscription price has to be reviewed upwards,” Liu said.
This is the only price increase the PayTv has had, even though the company has added “15 new channels in the last six months; expanded its educational programs for kids with more channels to provide the latest information on COVID-19; and also introduced the pay-as-you-go policy which enables people to subscribe on a daily or weekly basis,” Liu said.
In a phone chat with Nairametrics, PR Manager of Startimes Nigeria, Lazarus Ibeabuchi, made reference to past reviews where StarTimes had reduced costs of some bouquets.
“For instance, in September 2017, we scrapped our Unique Bouquet (N3800) from our DTT subscription packages and crashed its major channels into Classic Bouquet whilst reducing Classic Bouquet price from 2600 to 2400. In 2018, Classic Bouquet was further reduced from N2400 to N1900,” he explained, insisting that the PayTV service provider is not out to exploit customers.
On the other hand, MultiChoice in May, first announced a slight review to reflect the new VAT rates across its DStv and GOtv subscriptions. Effective June 1, DStv Premium subscription increased from N15,800 to N16,200, Compact Plus moved from N10,650 to N10,925, while the Compact bouquet was increased from N6,800 to N6,975.
The Confam bouquet became N4,615 as against the former price of N4,500, while Yanga bouquet increased from N2,500 to N2,565 monthly subscription.
For GOtv subscribers, GOtv Max bouquet increased from N3,200 to N3,280, while GOtv Jolli now goes for N2,460 and GOtv Jinja subscribers will pay N1,640.
Though the increase was very minute, almost insignificant, consumers complained about the timing being wrong.
To their credit, both PayTV operators delayed the implementation of the new VAT rates – MultiChoice for 4 months, and StarTimes for 6 months – even though the new VAT rates took effect in February 2020.
Note, however, that MultiChoice phased out 4 lower-tier subscription packages, from June 1, 2020. This means that the DStv Family, DStv Access, GOtv Plus, and GOtv Value subscription packages are no longer available for customers.
Sources within MultiChoice declined to comment, but according to the statement on the website, the phasing out of the packages is part of “ongoing efforts to ensure our customers get improved choices and better value for money whilst delighting them with content that resonate with them.”
The company said that regular reviews of packages, which sometimes result in addition or removal of packages, are done to create capacity for new package additions and offer customers “more choice and great value”.
Information on the company’s website shows that the company started the year with the Step up promos for customers, and later offering as much as 44% and 75% discounts for eligible customers in the We’ve Got You campaign during the lockdown, but this was hardly remembered as customers complained over the price reviews.
Before 2020, the last review was done in August 2018, when MultiChoice slashed the price of GOtv Max package from N3,800 to N3,200 while other GOtv packages remained fixed.
At the same time, the price of the DStv Premium package rose from N14,700 to N15,800; Compact Plus from N9,900 to N10,650; Compact from N6,300 to N6,800; Family from N3,800 to N4,000 and Access, from N1,900 to N2,000.
The spike in inflation rates was given as reason for the increase as well.
However, the outrage over the weekend was palpable, when Multichoice sent out messages to some of its DStv subscribers notifying them of a new increase to their bouquet prices. Coming three months after the last review, the outrage from customers was understandable.
In a message sent to customers, Multichoice said: “We periodically review our pricing, taking into consideration factors such as inflation and operational costs. We acknowledge that the people of Nigeria are living under increased economic pressure and we have made efforts to freeze the subscription prices in the last year, barring any extreme factors such as the devaluation of currency and changes to VAT mandated by the government.”
Even before the increase, the clime was suggestive of a possible increase from Multichoice. What is not yet clear is whether GOtv subscribers will be affected by this recent increase, or if theirs has been reserved for another time.
From September 1, DStv Compact price would increase to N7,900 up from N6,975, while Compact plus would increase from N10,925 to N12,000, and DStv Premium jumps overboard from N16,200 to 18,400.
In retrospect, Multichoice could have borrowed a leaf from StarTimes, by capturing both the increased VAT rates and operations costs in a single increase, instead of carrying out price reviews twice within a space of three months.
|Package||Price at April 2020 (N)||Reviewed price (N)||Difference (N)||% increase|
A close look will reveal that even though Startimes increased its prices with N300 – N600, the percentage increase was high because the prices of its bouquets were already really low. On the other hand, MultiChoice made little percentage increments, which only resulted in higher figures because the bouquet prices are higher.
Online streaming alternatives and why they are cheaper
Among the reactions, some subscribers mentioned alternatives like Netflix, IrokoTV, SceneOne TV, and Live Football TV app.
These online streaming platforms have also provided options for sit-at-home entertainment, especially during this pandemic.
So, how do they manage to keep their prices the same despite the challenges hitting others in the entertainment space?
PayTV operators like StarTimes and Multichoice pay for broadcasting rights in foreign currencies, and with the heated competition where both companies seem to be in a race for broadcasting rights, there is no doubt that they are spending a lot more than they had budgeted for at the beginning of the year when the exchange rate was $1 to N360; now, the exchange has gone over N470 to $1.
Even though these foreign companies employ lots of Nigerians, they sometimes have to import experts from other countries to service or repair their equipment, and this again means more foreign exchange payments.
They also have to keep their outfits running with power supply, and the unstable electricity in Nigeria makes it even more complicated. Most times, they have to resort to alternate power sources, and we are aware that the fuel pump price recently went up from N125 to N145 per liter.
On the other hand, online streaming platforms do not have to deal with some of these operating costs. They purchase rights to the movie once and make it available to paying subscribers. This practically explains why their costs have remained stable, and relatively cheaper, despite the recent challenges.
Netflix, for instance, runs a basic subscription of N2,900 (1 device access), standard subscription at N3,600 (2 device access), and Premium at N4,400 (4 devices access). There’s also IrokoTV which has been nicknamed ‘Netflix of Africa’ by some, offering its plans for equally low prices.
The Live Football TV app is another alternative, a totally free app for football lovers. It provides match schedules with multi-platform broadcast listings, including match stats, events, live scores, news, and analysis. In truth, people who subscribe to PayTV simply for football reasons might find this a better and cheaper alternative.
However, the catch is this: even though the online streaming platforms offer cheaper or even free services, this comes at an extra cost – the customer has to purchase data in order to stream them.
Data is still not free, at least not in Nigeria.
StarTimes/NTA venture yielded no profit in 11 years – DG, NTA
The management of NTA was queried over alleged 11 years non-profitable venture with StarTimes.
The StarTimes and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) venture has yielded no returns for the nation after 11 years of operation.
This was disclosed by the Director-General, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed while he was questioned by the Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning on Monday.
The Senate queried the management of NTA over what it called 11 years non-profitable venture with StarTimes.
StarTimes is a Chinese electronics and media company with a strong presence in Africa. It offers digital terrestrial television and satellite television services to consumers, provides technologies to countries and broadcasters that are switching from analog to digital television.
Chairman, Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning, Senator Solomon Adeola, asked, “Mr DG are you telling this committee that for solid 11 years, the joint venture agreement NTA had with StarTimes has not yielded any profit despite using your facilities for over one million subscribers.
“This is completely unfair to Nigeria. Something is cooking. You must come with the MD of your subsidiary unit overseeing the contractual and operational agreement.”
Not a single kobo was made in 11 years
The NTA boss, said, “As an Executive Director in 2009 in NTA, not a single kobo was made from the joint venture with StarTimes, the same situation I met in 2016 when I returned as D-G.
”In fact, on assumption of office as D-G, that was the first question I asked, upon which records of non- profitability was presented by the NTA subsidiary outfit running it. The non- profitability status of the venture remains till today.”
Consequently, to dig further, the DG was ordered to appear before the committee again on Tuesday along with the Managing Director of NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko, supervising the joint venture with StarTimes.