Best of Slow Journalism: The Netflix of Africa doesn’t Need Hollywood to Win

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

Nollywood, Nigeria’s “do-or-die” answer to Hollywood, does not play by the rules. With no studios, intermittent access to electricity and the inevitable, irrepressible threat of bootlegging, directors shoot films on lightning quick schedules and to fantastically low budgets, working logistical challenges into the plot as they go.

While the quality of productions varies enormously, Nollywood produces over 1,000 films a year to keep up with its voracious audience, which is bigger than Hollywood’s and second only to Bollywood. So in 2008, when a broke Jason Njoku moved back into his mum’s London council flat and noticed her shunning Sky in favour of pirated Nollywood movies, he had the spark of a business idea.

‘The Netflix of Africa doesn’t need Hollywood to win’, published in Bloomberg Businessweek, sees journalist Alexis Okeowo chart the rise of Iroko, Njoku’s Nollywood-fuelled, Netflix-defying streaming service that is teetering on the brink of “winning” Africa. As his business grows, he’s making bold plans to win new customers – films dubbed in French and regional languages such as Swahili and Zula, and more original content to run along Iroko shows such as Husbands of Lagos and Desperate Housegirls.

For an unpredictable, fascinating and outlandish story, take a dive into the inner workings of Nollywood here.

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