Is it even right for me to ask such a question in the first place when I know the answer to the question may be negative?
From movies to music to fashion, Nigeria’s entertainment industry is a powerhouse in Africa. Their movie industry popularly known as Nollywood, is third largest in the world. Their music is soaring, and their musicians have taken Africa by storm and are dictating the pace on the continent and beyond.
All the biggest award schemes in both the music and movie sectors organised on the African continent or beyond are organised and instituted by a Nigerian or co-partnered by one. This paints a fair picture of how big and pervasive their entertainment sector is.
The dominance of Nigerian- created content on MultiChoice’s Digital Satellite TV service in Africa (DStv), ranging from entertainment, movies, lifestyle and culture, sports, documentaries, news and commerce, children, music and religions is reasonable, but unfortunately, the rest of Africa are not happy and are bitter.
DStv has around 12 million subscribers, with Nigeria and South Africa being countries with majority of customers. These two markets, by default, are considered to be the most important markets for DStv.
Even though countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius and Tanzania do not have as many customers as compared to the above countries, they, however, are still considered crucial by DStv due to the growing number of customers in these countries. Ghana is not mentioned among these countries and the reason is clear. There aren’t many Ghanaians using MultiChoice’s service DStv. There is no other reason than that.
Nigeria and South Africa are the biggest consumers of DStv, and it makes sense that their contents dominate on the channel. However, many Africans feel that, they must automatically share the spotlight and the slots with the two African powerhouses, Nigeria and South Africa, in terms of programs and content on DStv.
On numerous occasions, I have witnessed other nationals vent their spleen and express concern about the domination of Nigerian contents on DStv. Indeed, I have been present at few events where journalists from other parts of Africa have questioned the rationale behind having mainly Nigerian content over content from other African countries on DStv.
I remember that, in 2014 during the maiden edition of the MultiChoice Content Showcase Extravaganza in Mauritius, the same questions were asked repeatedly at almost every stage of the one-week content showcase.
Whenever such a question is asked, the impression is created that producers and content creators in the countries with fewer contents on DStv are growing and need to be assisted to break the dominance of the most populous nation in Africa.
How can DStv empower such countries to help break the so- called dominance of Nigeria when all the customers from all the other DStv-operating countries cannot add up to the 8 million subscribers from Nigeria? Does it even make business sense at all? Even if it does, it doesn’t look achievable.
Unfortunately, the answers to those questions have always been the same; Nigeria produces more content than the rest of the continent, so it obvious that they will have more content. Also, they have a huge population, which means, they have their citizens patronising their own contents. This makes it easier for any business-minded person to tap into.
Even at the second edition of the MultiChoice Content Showcase Extravaganza in Mauritius, these same concerns were raised on the Nigerian content dominance on pay television platforms, DStv and GOtv.
According to Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, Regional Director, M-Net West Africa, the availability of Nigerian contents makes it easier for MutiChoice, owners of DStv and GOtv since same cannot be said of Ghana and the rest of Africa.
“We also nurture the local suppliers in Ghana… to build a great content that we can also showcase on our channels.
“We buy content that is available and we buy content across West Africa, and we do have Ghanaian suppliers that we work with. As long as we begin to see content coming out of the regions, they come to us, we will acquire.”
Channel Director for MTV Base, Africa’s biggest music channel, Tim Horwood, also talked about how Ghanaian musicians can get play time on MTV Base.
“Honestly, you also have to look at some of the business realities that we face as brands and you also have to look at where your biggest audiences are. In an ideal world, I would love to represent every single country on the continent, but you have to do it as a phased approach. The goal is to get to that point to be able to say that every single country in Africa is represented.
“You have to cater to the biggest numbers, and the reality is, when you carry it on MutiChoice platform, the biggest numbers sit on those two countries (Nigeria and South Africa) so you obviously have to skew towards those two countries.”
So the answer to the above is that, Ghana or any other African country can NEVER break the dominance of Nigeria, and to some percentage, South Africa on DStv not now, not forever. This is because, hard as they try, they cannot overtake Nigeria as the biggest content creators, and besides, they aren’t too many sponsors like there are in Nigeria. They do not have the numbers to support and patronise what they churn out.
Whenever I take my DStv Explora remote and change the channels through to the Hausa, Yoruba, newly launched Igbo channel and the rest of the local language channels, I dream of a day that a channel would be created solely for Ghana on DStv to show only locally produced contents or movies.
That is very possible, but then, it all depends on how many Ghanaians are using DStv. A lot of Ghanaians on that service will create a demand for what I’m talking about, but, until then, Ghana must sit up, forget about breaking Nigeria’s dominance and instead, work on churning out quality contents that will attract DStv.
By Ebenezer Anangfio / Graphic Showbiz