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Netflix Executives Answer Questions On How They Operate In Nigeria And Across Africa!

After a spate of activities which saw Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandon visiting Nigeria, and the launch of a handful of Nigerian-produced original series, several industry watchers have been wondering what Netflix's big plan is for the Nigerian and albeit Africa's creative spaces. Well, Netflix executives, Dorothy Ghettuba and Ben Amadasun did an exclusive with Wilfred Okiche for YNaija - a society online news platform.

 Here are some abridged excerpts from the conversation:

On what Netflix have learnt so far with engaging Nigerian/Africa creatives 

"We've listened and what we heard was that Nollywood is a powerful industry with amazing players and we said yes, we hear you and we are happy to be part of this journey. We also heard about the importance of local Nigerian content. The creatives wanted the opportunity to be able to produce best in class stories."

"In Nigeria, they wanted us to have a bigger marketing presence on the ground, that was quite recurrent. They wanted us to ensure we have a variety of voices in what we are acquiring, which is something that we are doing anyway. They wanted to make sure that we have lots of different genres because I recall people asking about our thoughts on kids and animation and family programming."


On helping to build capacity on the industry

"Yes, one of the things we've discovered was that capacity building is vital, and it is essential to partner with local storytellers to do so. We've taken that message with us, and we will be working with our partners and Nollywood for that."


On Netflix's local content acquisition plan and ensuring equitable payment for content 

"What we do, not only in Nigeria but across the other markets, especially from a licensing perspective, is that we pay market rates."

"We know our markets, and this reflects the rates we pay are and what the value is to us as a business. That is how we approach these different markets." So it isn't blanket rates obtainable across all the African countries. It is all to do with the individual content."

"Also, content quality is essential, as is the ability of the content to travel. Great stories that can travel are coming out of Africa, so for us, we look at so many different aspects of the material coming from countries. 

We want to make sure that these stories can engage in local markets as well as travel internationally. We want to make sure the quality standards are quite strong in terms of production values. That is very important to us.

There is also more great news that we will be sharing in the future and as you know, we are doing some work. We are genuinely invested in Nigeria, and we know this is something we want to do, so you will see more shows coming out definitely. We are buying more titles. What I can tell you is this is just the beginning for us, and loads of exciting things are coming.


On results of how Nigerian/African content is faring on Netflix's platform

We can't share details of the back end but what we are doing is making sure that a considerable volume of the best quality Nigerian content is available to the market across Africa and the rest of the world.

We are getting favourable feedback, very good reviews from different parts of the world. In terms of how it resonates, we can see that there is a lot of engagement with some of the content, so things are looking good from a licensing point of view. I think since the last one year, having the bigger expanded catalogue has been received very positively, and it has been good for Nollywood.

I can tell you that people love it. What we are seeing is that folks are loving it.


On the Netflix work process for making original content happen

For originals we come in at the very beginning.  Some ideas can be in the pitch, concept or script format. What is always important like I said is that the story is strong and has the ability for viewers to watch and enjoy. Our style is a partnership.

We work hand in hand with our creative and production partners. They are the experts across regions and genres, so all we do is facilitate and help provide an environment that they can produce in the best way they can. We are involved from the beginning, but they have the total creative freedom to tell the stories that they want to tell which is why it is important to us that they are very clear about the story they want to tell ab initio. 

Another thing I can tell you is that when we are working with our partners and looking at the shows, authenticity is crucial to us. What we do as a global company is we give them the tools and resources to be able to put their work in front of audiences. That is the value that we have.


Credit: contribution from Wilfred Okiche - YNaija

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