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Nigeria-Nollywood,Information Goods,Digital Piracy and Differentiation


Nollywood is the moniker for Nigeria’s film industry.Although the first Nigerian films were made in 1960s,by the likes of Ola Balogun and Hubert Ogunde,it was the release of the box-office movie Living in Bondage in 1992 by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue in the eastern city of Onitsha,that gave birth to Nollywood as it is known today.The film,Living in Bondage,became so succesful,that other video business owners became film makers,overnight.According to UNESCO,in 2009,Nollywood became the second-largest film industry in the world,in terms of number of films made,after Bollywood,and the second-largest employer of labour in Nigeria. According to Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange formerly of CNN, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 videos for the home video market every month.

It is safe to say that Nollywood has come a way in about 20 years of it’s existence.But it has much farther to go,if it is to achieve global reckoning.For truth be told,much of it’s fare is of indifferent quality.But make no mistake about it,Nollywood is important.Not only because it is economically relevant,as an employer of labour,but also because it is a vehicle through which Africa can tell it’s story,from it’s own perspective.Most Africans suffer from an inferiority-complex,which is why we seem to have an aptitude for mediocrity.We seem to think it is our birth-right to fail,especially where governance is concerned.Predictable after hundreds of years of slavery and colonization.But i believe the black race is the equal of any.We just need to be told that.This is what our movies can do for us.

Through the medium of film,we can learn about our roots,origins and about who we truly are.This understanding of our past is necessary,if we are to achieve all our aspirations as a people.I am not advocating the making of propaganda films,sponsored by the government.Films should be honest and reflect society as seen by their makers.The artist should have the latitude to express himself.Too often,you hear government officials complaining that some films do not portray the country in a good light.Sure,some films are distasteful.But no one judges the Unted States on the basis of it’s porn industry.This is because the US film industry,Hollywood,is differentiated,into category A movies,videos and then porn/fetish,with the category A movies representing Hollywood.As a result,when you think Hollywood,you think of category A movies.Nollywood should take a cue from them.

Lack of differentiation is the reason Nollywood appears to over-produce.With differentiation,we would not be talking about 200 movies a month; no,we would be talking about ten percent of that figure as category A movies,the others would just be videos.The ten percent would be representative of Nollywood,and of much higher quality than the rest.International film festivals or organizations seeking Nigerian films would,most likely,take their pick from the ten percent,instead of trawling through thousands of indifferent videos,making life easier for everyone.Although we lack a network of theaters and established studios,the mechanism through which Hollywood is differentiated,by intelligent regulation and robust enforcement,we can achieve the same objective.A movie is an information good,meaning that it’s value is tied to the information contained therein.This gives it certain unique properties.

Movies are experience goods,meaning that you have to experience them to know whether they are any good.This uncertainty of utility- problem,whereby the process of assessing the utility or value of a movie,is bundled with it’s consumption,creates a problem for it’s marketing.Consumers will not pay unless they know it is worth the price.And they may not pay,if they have already seen the movie.To get around this problem,publishers resort to three devices:advertising/trailers;brands/reputation;and third-party reviews.For Nigeria,i would choose the review option.I advocate a college of reviewers,with members drawn from our electronic and print media.Ideally,there would be a board of ten media houses,which would rate movies on a scale of 1 to 5,according to clearly agreed parameters.Category A movies would have a rating of 4 or 5.The rest would be just videos.

Movies are non-rival and nonexcludable.This means that one person’s consumption is not at another person’s expense.Movies also have the problem of high fixed costs and low marginal costs.This means that whereas the cost of production is high,the cost of re-production is low.This cost problem and the nonexcludability property make movies susceptible to illicit copying or piracy.The problem of digital piracy is worsened by the fact that Nollywood operates a pirate-friendly business model.A movie of indistinct quality is sold in four different parts,pricing it out of the reach of private consumers,who cannot afford to pay four times for one movie.The prominence of video clubs,which constitutes a form of piracy, is driven by this high-margin business model,as consumers opt for rentals only.Nollywood can reduce piracy,if it differentiates and delivers it’s movies in one part.People would definitely buy  category A movies if they were delivered as one disc.


10 responses to “Nigeria-Nollywood,Information Goods,Digital Piracy and Differentiation

  1. v pills December 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm

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  2. codliveroil December 22, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Yes a credible council of officianados is needed to vet the releases. In short Nigeria has to less fixated on quantity but focus more on quality. This is more efficient.

    When you have to scour so many releases to find something that interests you, that is a deterrent. The opposite should be the case, looking for something should interest you more not put you off. So yes, the releases should be streamlined and categorised appropriately.

  3. Mena Ukodoisready January 5, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Profound article.

    You made some very important observation, particularly on the aspect of 1. economy 2. telling its own story. 3. Piracy 4. Mediocrity. and lots more.

    I cannot agree more and yes I am following you!


  4. ip camera January 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Excellent post, l quite agree with your conclusion. However lam having problem subscribing to your rss.

  5. Godfrey April 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    As said before,many thanks to u all at nollywood industry,u are really verygreat.pls help me,i love acting n would love to become an artist but i don’t know what to do pls help me.

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