When it comes to entertainment on the continent, Nigeria’s status and influence cannot be ignored. From having the second-largest movie industry in the world to the most recognized music with globally known stars like Wizkid and Davido, Nigerian entertainers lead the way as Africa makes its mark in worldwide entertainment.
The country did not achieve its position as Africa’s entertainment powerhouse overnight. It was done gradually with consistent, high-quality output and, more importantly, widespread distribution. MultiChoice Nigeria contributed significantly to this success.
Since its establishment in the 90s, MultiChoice Nigeria has been intentional about producing and distributing locally-sourced content and talent. The change was most evident in the film industry, which had constraints with the distribution of videocassette recorders (VCRs), compact disks (CDs), and digital video disks (DVDs) due to piracy and logistics.
Then came MultiChoice with the solution: pay-TV. Filmmakers didn’t have to worry about getting original content to their audience without losing revenue due to piracy. MultiChoice handled that with DStv, its first pay-TV product.
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They bought the rights to movies and shows so that customers could watch their favorite all day without having to source for the CDs. This also enabled Nollywood content to reach a global audience. Nigerians and non-Nigerians with access to a DStv bouquet could consume locally made content and be a part of the worldwide Nollywood community.
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As the years went by, the pioneer station for Nollywood movies, Africa Magic, which began as a single channel, became seven different outlets, with separate stations for the major indigenous Nigerian languages. The establishment of stations like Africa Magic Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa has allowed local content to go mainstream. Something which wasn’t possible before the coming of MultiChoice.
The company has invested a lot in creating and producing long-running shows like Tinsel, current shows like Riona, and many comedy and drama flicks. There’s also, of course, the biggest reality show in Africa, Big Brother Africa, and even Big Brother Nigeria. These shows have commanded millions of fans globally while giving the country and its talent a spotlight to showcase what they are good at.
Another proponent of Nollywood’s content is the much-publicized Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA). Since their inception, these awards have brought much more recognition and prestige to Nigeria’s film ecosystem, with Nollywood content and stars claiming the most coveted awards.
The music industry has also enjoyed a massive amount of success due to MultiChoice’s involvement.
The platform that MultiChoice gave when they onboarded popular music channels like Trace, MTV, and SoundCity is mainly responsible for the widespread fame of contemporary Nigerian music. This music has penetrated foreign markets with an inflow of Nigerian content because of MultiChoice’s groundwork.
Speaking to The Vanguard, the CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, said this about the country’s musical talent: “Nigeria is at the heart of music excellence. For us at MultiChoice, it has always been about talent development and giving our subscribers superior content that they can relate to and engage with.”
The company also leads the way when it comes to discovering and recognizing talent for the movie and film industry. For instance, the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy, an education programme that develops emerging TV and film talent in Africa, through an accredited 12-month immersion programme including both theory and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production, and storytelling. Then there are the AMVCA Trailblazer awards which recognize and reward the tenacity, drive, and ambition of young, up-and-coming filmmakers. Past recipients include JideKene Achufusi, Bisola Aiyeola, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Somkele Iyamah, and Ivie Okujaiye.
The company’s marketing materials are littered with elements of the home country, Nigeria, in this case. Popular slangs, references, and events are regular occurrences in their ads and other promotional materials. All these promote locally made content and push it out to the world. Case in point, the company in 2019 launched two new packages – DStv Confam and DStv Yanga – specifically curated for the Nigerian customer.
MultiChoice Nigeria’s role in developing the Nigerian entertainment industry and Nigerian content cannot be denied. From exposure to distribution, the company has been consistent over the years.
Since it started in the 90s, the company has been responsible—directly and indirectly—for the Nigerian entertainment industry’s widespread success. And it does not look like MultiChoice Nigeria is stopping anytime soon.