Apple’s year got off to a great start but the same cannot be said for Netflix as the streamer announced a major loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022 and an expected loss of a further two million by Q2.
In 2020, Netflix announced an accelerated growth to its subscriber base during the lockdown, signaling growth in the overall streaming market for both audio and video platforms. It seemed that platforms with a product flywheel like YouTube, Amazon and Apple were on track to woo more subscribers.
Unfortunately in Africa, the standard remains unimpressively way belle global benchmarks despite internet penetration and marketing strategies developed through consumer behaviour research among an increasingly young demographic, The visual streaming platforms are jostling to get ahead in an unpredictable region, with a history of economic instability and political upheaval.
Led by Multichoice/DSTV’s streaming offering and Netflix’s early inroads, Showmax – to a larger extent – and Amazon Prime have also thrown their hat into the ring. Elsewhere, Facebook Watch ponders its next step alongside YouTube.
While the conceptually cool Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV and others look from a distance. Over the past two years, Netflix has sponsored more than a handful of Nigerian movies and TV shows. Recently, it attempted to crown its efforts with the viral pan-African reality show: Young, Famous and African.
Showmax, on the hand, tied into Afrobeats with a reality show for the winner of BBNaija: Lockdown winner, Laycon, plus its mutually beneficial partnership with DSTV, a healthy stream of HBO content and the newly-launched the Real Housewives of Lagos.
While Amazon Prime has been on ground (long before its much publicised AFRIFF sessions), Until now, the streamer furtively watched from a distance to perhaps understudy the market.
Although there have been rumours about its intention to bankroll some Afrobeats documentaries post hiring veteran totem of excellence in Wangi Mba-Uzokwu, Flavour’s documentary is the first time we’ll publicly hear concrete news about Amazon Prime’s acquisition foray. Note that the streamer announced a couple of licensing deals earlier this year with Anthill studios and Inkblot productions.
Word on the street says Flavour started shooting his biographical documentary, and has even been turning down shows. Sources tell Pulse that the deal was signed in Q4 2022. Although rumoured figures of $3 million appear to be off the mark, Pulse cannot confirm the exact figures.
Amazon Prime’s strategy
A subsidiary of Amazon, Amazon Prime video has grown over the past few years, with the help of Amazon’s product flywheel.
Subscrybe reports, “The primary purpose for Amazon Prime is to create loyalty between Amazon and its customers. When the customer has paid 99 or 10.99 USD for free delivery he or she will automatically wish to get most out of the already paid subscription fee.”
Like every other platform, its customer acquisition strategy has been woven around original exclusive content behind a paywall model. For visual DSPs, this is easier because rights to motion pictures are much more decentralized than that of music. Thus getting a heavy catalog will require much more work.
The strategy places excessive onus on the platform to create attractive content, which could attract customers from different platforms to juggle multiple subscriptions.
Prime’s strategy for Africa
At this time, this is unclear.
But from the rumours around Afrobeats documentaries, and now Flavour’s documentary, it looks like the company is trying to ride on the coattails of products and concepts with proven earning power.
This isn’t dissimilar to Netflix documentary strategy in Europe and the Americas. It’s also not dissimilar to the earlier stated drive of Showmax and Laycon. Showmax is also rumoured to be bankrolling another Afrobeats documentary.
Why does riding Afrobeats make sense?
Nollywood is on the rise. Several observers and researchers have repeatedly stated that its potential as a revenue-generating industry far outweighs that of Afrobeats and the music industry. But right now, investing in Nollywood movies right out the gate might prove to be excessively risky, in an industry where comedies reign as commercial bulldogs, almost to the exclusion of any other genre.
The Nigerian mainstream loves its comedies, and they duly sell out at the cinema. As much as a few Nollywood movies have generated healthy revenue in recent times, Afrobeats presents less risk at this time.
Think about it this way: Investing in artist-led Afrobeats documentaries already crests on the back of an Afrobeats artist with incredible following. In the case of Flavour, he has the Nigerian South-East on lock, alongside other major African cosmopolitan countries, due to his famed live performances.
With recent high records like ‘Doings,’ ‘Levels,’ ‘Egedege,’ and ‘Berna,’ he’s also introduced himself to a younger demographic.
More importantly, the defining revenue still comes from outside Africa. And Afrobeats as a culture drives enough interest to drive traffic and revenue from any of its premier artists.
It looks like this will be a gateway drug, as Afrobeats success in film might inspire further investment in Nollywood. Earning power needs to be proven before Amazon Prime fully launches onto the scene.
Is $3 million a lot for Flavour?
First off, Pulse cannot confirm the accuracy of that figure. But strictly based on opinions, it would be unlikely. $3 million and less is what a major label would have offered Davido, Burna Boy or Wizkid in 2018.
These guys recently started earning that $1 million on endorsement deals recently, and they are the biggest on the continent. In 2020, even though Netflix recorded a 150% increase in user-base, it didn’t really impact revenue. Thus, it’s unlikely that Amazon Prime would give that amount to Flavour, even though he’s a legacy artist with an amazing following.
The key factor here is return on investment, which is unlikely to happen in a $3 million deal. But if Amazon Prime really gave Flavour $3 million for his documentary, then artists like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Olamide should be celebrating, because they will surely demand fair pay, and it would surely be more than $3 million.