The state of online video content in Nigeria (2015-2019)

You need to read this article if you want to create online video content for consumption by residents of Nigeria in 2015 through 2019. It isn’t uhuru yet.

I keep hearing people speak glowingly about how Nigerians have now embraced online video content, whether streamed or downloaded. There is always someone who comes to me saying that my Nigerian-centric blog would see increased traffic if we put up more videos. Because I am deep in the industry, I know they have no idea what they are talking about. The truth is that internet video in the country is still a very niche, even elitist, matter. Very few people stream or download video in any significant quantity.

As such, you can imagine my surprise earlier today when I ran into a tweet that claimed that Nigerians now watch more video on mobile than on TV.

There is no way in heaven or in hell that the assertion that Nigerians now watch more video on mobile devices than TV is even close to the truth. With what internet subscriptions would these people be performing this incredible feat? The ones that take 30 seconds to 2 minutes to fully load load a simple HTML page? The same subscriptions that also cost an arm and a leg for the average Nigerian?

Ericsson report on TV and media in Nigeria - online video content

Thankfully, a contact of mine had read the report from which this claim was gleaned, and he didn’t find any such thing in it. Here:

Online Video Content Consumption Still Restricted

Anyway, this was an opportunity for me to set the records straight. I asked Mr. Adegbola for the link to the report, which he obliged. Reading the Ericsson report, indeed it does not say anything about Nigerians watching more video on mobile devices than TV. As a matter of fact, the Ericsson report makes statements like:

  • Streaming is yet to take off
  • 76 percent of global consumers stream videos weekly, compared to 27 percent of Nigerians
  • Only 30 percent of residents are satisfied with streaming over the internet
  • Globally, 38 percent of consumers use on-demand, internet-based video services, while in Nigeria this is just 16 percent
  • Streaming issues and download speeds are the two most important factors affecting the satisfaction of those watching video content online

Online Video Content In Nigeria Is consumed By A Growing Minority

However, the report says that 50 percent of the time that Nigerians spend watching video is on laptops and smartphones. Also note that those videos are often downloaded by one person and then copied/passed on from device to device via offline means e.g. USB drives, Bluetooth and cables. Even at that, this is largely restricted to a minority. A growing minority, but a minority all the same.

Considering that Ericsson’s report was based on 1,500 face-to-face interviews conducted across 7 mega cities Abuja, Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt, the reality is that the actual figures are far lower than these. Had Ericsson included Ilara-Mokin, Odogbolu, Remo, Ilesha, Keffi, Makurdi, Awka, Agbor, Gwoza, and many such towns where the average resident lives, the uptake figures for Nigeria will be found to be much lower.

Here are a few practical info and tips for anyone interested in online video content production in Nigeria:

  1. Blogs that publish primarily video content are not up there in terms of traffic with the top blogs that do text and images, so don’t go jumping blindly into video with hopes of huge uptake right away.
  2. If you want to build momentum for the time when video will catch on in the country, awesome. Start publishing your video content right away, but don’t expect short term returns in either traffic or cash.
  3. If you want to export video from Nigeria to the world, great plan. That’s what IrokoTV did to ride to success.
  4. Trying to sell video content to residents of Africa’s most populous country right now is a tough sell – an adventure that is very likely doomed to financial failure.

Nigeria is very far from a scenario in which internet video catches up with video on TV, much less overtake it. Consumers in the country are not yet watching more video on mobile devices than on TV, as most of them cannot afford to. You can download Ericsson’s TV and Media 2015 Report.

YouTube mobile live-streaming

Update: State of Online Video Content in 2019

There has been some minor improvement in the situation since 2016, but again, the majority of residents are far from embracing video content online. TechPoint Africa published a 2019 report titled, Online video content is not king in Nigeria, yet. Excerpts from the report:

“Regardless of these massive numbers, online video content in Nigeria still receives very low patronage. Mobile internet and broadband penetration are still the biggest hindrances to video taking off in Nigeria.”

This tallies with my own observations. There is a lot of hype around video in a small bubble, while the much larger chunk of people who are online across the country avoid online video content as much as possible.

Again, there is progress, but it is baby steps. In the last one year, a number of service providers have set up free Wi-Fi services across Lagos. This has helped, but it is just a drop in the ocean.

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