Online video content is not king in Nigeria, yet

by | Mar 7, 2019

‘Content is king’, a phrase popularised by Bill Gates in his 1996 essay of the same title still holds true more than 23 years after it made its worldwide debut. The more content spreads and evolves, the truer the phrase is proven.

But video content on the internet has not always been in any position of royalty in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest nation. This is ironic considering the large population comprising mostly children, teenagers and young adults.

Regardless of these massive numbers, online video content in Nigeria still receives very low patronage. Different publishing platforms exist including more popular ones like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. And analytics from all have shown an inconsistent growth spurt over the years.

In recent times, there has been a lot of optimism surrounding the proposed ‘take-off’ of video in Nigeria, but it is not looking very likely.

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At a media parley in Lagos, Nigeria, YouTube shared a breakdown of ad videos on its platform for the year ended 2018. The data had the year-end YouTube ads leaderboard for Nigeria and the global market.

It showed views of the top 10 most watched ads; those ones that pop up before, during or after a YouTube video you are watching.

Here is what the numbers said;

2018 Nigeria Year-End YouTube Ads Leaderboard
  • MTN – Traditional Wedding Day, 2.6M views
  • Jumia Black Friday 2018, 2.3M views
  • Stanbic IBTC – Enabling you to be you, 2.1M views
  • Union Bank of Nigeria – Enabling Success, 2.7M views
  • United Bank of Africa – 919 Dance Video, 1.6M views
  • MTN MPULSE – The Takeover, 1.6M views
  • Airtel NG – The-Inlaws – Tutorial, 1.4M views
  • P&G Nigeria – Ariel Assurance, 1.3M views
  • GTBank – Come Let’s Eat Together – GTBank Food & Drink 2018, 1.2M views
  • LG INVERTER – The new Inverter equation of home appliances, 1.2M views
2018 Global Year-End YouTube Ads Leaderboard
  • Alexa Loses Her Voice – Amazon Super Bowl LII Commercial, 50.1M views
    YouTube Music: Open the world of music. It’s all here., 39.5M views
    OPPO F7 – Real Support Makes Real Hero, 31.7M views
    Nike – Dream Crazy, 27.3M views
    Turkish Airlines: Safety Video with The LEGO Movie Characters, 25.2M views
    Groupon 2018 Super Bowl Commercial | “Who Wouldn’t”, 25.5M views
    Samsung Galaxy: Moving On, 17.4M views
    HomePod — Welcome Home by Spike Jonze — Apple, 16.3M views
    Gatorade | Heart of a Lio, 13.7M views
    Rescue Blue the Dinosaur – LEGO Jurassic World – Pick Your Path, 10.8M

There is a stark contrast; the total views on the 10 most watched ad videos in Nigeria approximately sum up to the number for the 7th most watched video ad in the world. And none of the most watched ads in Nigeria hit the 3 million view mark; 2.7 million is the highest.

Entertainment and music still remain the most viable content industry in Nigeria, the two most watched Nigerian videos on the internet in 2018 are music videos. Pop stars Wizkid’s ‘Soco’ and Davido’s ‘Assurance’ both ended the year at 28 million views with Wizkid’s jam doing a few more thousand.

With 3.7 million (3,717,633) subscriptions, Mark Angel Comedy is one of the most subscribed Nigerian channel on YouTube.

There are other video sharing platforms, but YouTube is the largest in the world and this data about Nigeria is telling. It is also important to note that most of the aforementioned views on Nigerian videos are from Nigerians in the diaspora and even non-Nigerians.

When compared to global numbers with Nigeria’s population in context, it is obvious that video content is not still the most popular in Nigeria.

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Mobile internet and broadband penetration are still the biggest hindrances to video taking off in Nigeria. Even though Nigeria supposedly has the most affordable Internet in Africa.


Suggested ReadSurprise! Nigeria supposedly has the most affordable Internet in Africa


But at around ₦1,000 or $3 for 1 gigabyte of data, it is still quite expensive and a lot of people cannot afford the luxury of streaming videos online.

Even when they access this connectivity, spotty internet due to low broadband penetration still remains a major hindrance to consuming video content online.

Regardless of all these challenges, there is still a bubbling enthusiasm among content creators; they believe video is the future.

video streaming on mobile 1 scaled

According to Fisayo Fosudo, a content creator and tech YouTuber;

“The audience and engagement is still very small and there is a bias to entertainment content online in Nigeria, but apart from that, online videos are thriving and more people are becoming aware of them by the day.”

He believes that in 5 years there will be more audience online, creators, and globally relevant content from Nigeria.

Global relevance is another important issue. As earlier mentioned, most consumption of Nigerian videos are from foreigners and Nigerians in the diaspora, so they have to be able to relate with the content, until more Nigerians come online.

In the same vein, Mark Angel confirms this. He said for a long time, until recently, majority of their views came from everywhere except Nigeria.

“As of 2017, Nigerians in Nigeria constituted  18% of the total audience on the Mark Angel Comedy YouTube page. With consistent marketing, that number has soared to 43% this year.”

Regardless, Mark is optimistic.

“Online videos are the future of content distribution in Nigeria. Because of challenges like internet, its uptake is quite slow. But slowly and surely, they are coming,” he says.

Veteran journalist and journalism trainer, Taiwo Obe believes video has more power as a content medium than is being let on. Like Mark, Taiwo who is currently championing a successful livestreaming project for one of Nigeria’s leading dailies believes marketing is also necessary for online video to fully take off.

“Apart from the internet challenges, people still watch videos and more can join the trend. The video watching culture is not yet prevalent in Nigeria and maybe this a problem marketing can fix. People need to understand they can watch videos without going bankrupt.”

The way forward

In all these, solutions abound that may speed up the adoption and consumption of online video content in Nigeria. Free public Wi-Fi services have sprung up in different parts of Nigeria to tackle the internet issue.

Flobyt launched in February 2017, Swift Networks followed with its Red Cheetah free Wi-Fi, and Google recently came on board with Google Station. And a host of others.

Google also recently launched its suite of Google Go apps that are lighter and more enhanced versions of already existing apps and YouTube is one of the Go apps. The YouTube Go apps presents innovative and data saving ways to watch videos on YouTube.

With this wave of initiatives and enthusiasm from creators and concerned organisations, online videos, like Mark Angel earlier said, may most likely be the future of content in Nigeria. But stats show it most certainly is not the ‘now’.

Victor Ekwealor
Victor Ekwealor

tech. media. startups. africa. vc | Twitter: @victor_ekwealor

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