Faced with poor internet connectivity and high data tariffs in Nigeria, Elroy argues that Netflix will have a hard time building subscriber numbers in Africa’s largest country.

Netflix is bound to fail in Nigeria, and here’s why

Hurray! Netflix is now in Nigeria!! Oh yes! subscribe for just $8 monthly and you have full access to all the movies, TV series and shows you love plus so much more. Many have begged and yearned for this service to be usable for Nigerians. Before now, it had geographical restrictions. One had to go into IP masking and VPN’s to be able to use it. Now the chains are broken, it’s a good reason to be joyous.


Wait first. Before you go dancing shoki in celebratory mode, a closer look at the situation has given us cause for concern. Many questions arise like: Which (affordable, fast & reliable) data plan will we use for this? What happens to our local content? What about the issue of piracy? These and more we hope to tackle subsequently, so grab a cup of coffee, Netflix Mobility and chill 😛



The very first problem we have in Nigeria is poor internet services. 3G network is abysmal in many parts of the country. 4G network ah! That one is almost non-existent except for the service offered by Smile, in a few locations around the country. Is that what we would be using for the Netflix? Aside speed, there’s also big questions marks in areas of stability and reliability. Remember that the ‘service’ is heavy dependent on fast and reliable internet. The country can’t really boast of that now – so make e rest first.

Another issue with Netflix is the lack of local content. Netflix basically it offer content from the Western world. They don’t offer any local entertainment content.  Supposing it goes mainstream – unless it’s added later, it would probably further reduce the already dying appeal we have for our local content.


Can we even pay for the service? Recently, government of Nigeria placed some international restrictions on Nigerian ATM cards.  With this in place, a willing subscriber to the Netflix service will eventually run into difficulties paying for it. What else could fall in favor of this Netflix sef? 🙂

We haven’t even talked of piracy, torrent downloads, and the Alaba-boys menace in the country. I’ve watched lots of Netflix shows/movies without even spending a dime on them. Popular titles like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Beasts of No Nation were just copied from people laptops 😆 Worst case scenario, one can easily purchase these movies for less than N200. They know where 😉

That aside, smart TVs aren’t even popular here yet. We might not have many people with TV’s compatible with streaming, but then, we can even excuse (or rather skip) this by using other device like mobile phones, laptops or tablets to access the service.

From the many factors already going against Netflix, we had better ask them to take it back. The likes of DSTV or Iroko TV have no cause to fear or feel threatened. Until a miracle happens – especially with the internet situation in Nigeria, I see Netflix having more ground to cover before becoming mainstream in Nigeria. Do you think Netflix is useless in a place like Nigeria ? Your thoughts.

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Chibueze is an award-winning gadget reviewer and geek. He loves research, while living and breathing tech. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter ,OR LinkedIn

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. If the likes of IrokoTV and DSTV are managing to survive even with piracy, I don’t see how piracy will affect them so much. The crux of the matter here are the prevalent connection speed and data subscription cost. When these two are sorted out, DSTV and IrokoTV will eventually have something to worry about but I think as they lack local contents and football channels for live European league matches, both DSTV and IrokoTV may still have some competitive advantage.

  2. Hi Elroy , you made some Interesting points , but I disagree with your conclusion that Netflix WILL fail in Nigeria (yes , your featured image says so). I’m guessing you wrote this article based on iRoko’s struggle in the market , but what you have failed to realise is that iRokoTV and Netflix in Nigeria are for the future , not the present.

    Yes , there are challenges that make it seem like running a profitable online streaming business in Nigeria is impossible , but I believe that things will ease up in the coming years.

    Now let’s talk about Network. There is currently no 4G network in most part of Nigeria , agreed , but expect that to change in the next few years (if not months). MTN has given us a glimpse of hope (they recently acquired Visafone) + They just rolled out 4G network in Cameroon and from the look of things , Nigeria is next on their list. Let’s not forget that Nitel promised to rollout 4G network in Nigeria.

    About restriction of international payments , I believe this is temporary and it will be lifted soon. Talking about that , I made some online transactions with a US Based company last week and my GTBank card successfully billed. So ‘m wondering if there’s even a restriction or not :)..

    I agree with you on Piracy. It has eaten deep into our entertainment industry and its a big issue that iRoko and Netflix cannot tackle alone. They will need full support of the government.

    Talking about content , Netflix doesn’t need to show local content. They just need to be who they are…Netflix….King of western online content. iRoko is doing a good job in showing local content.

    No, Netflix is not a thereat to iRoko and DSTV. A large percent of Nigerians that use DSTV do so mostly because of the sport content and music. People also watch iRokoTV because of their Nollywood content. So if you ask me , i’ld say Netflix is not a major threat to iRoko and DSTV. Its a threat , no doubt. But its not something to lose sleep over.

    Finally , i’ld say Netflix in Nigeria is a good move. A smart one. Yes , they will encounter lots of challenges but online streaming in Nigeria is the future. Netflix and iRoko just have to survive NOW. They have to…

    Best Regards ,
    Kelvin Ogwu.

  3. Sure,the Naija operating environment as of today doesn’t look too encouraging for the likes of Netflix and other online content providers,but like somebody pointed out,these discouraging circumstances are at worst temporary drawbacks which are bound to get better with time and if our Telcos success stories are any indication,time and the will is all they need..

  4. Well said bro.. But then until we see this changes taking place, we can’t place faith on hopeful speculations..

    I have always loved your counter points to my articles keep it coming Bro. 😆

  5. Oga Elroy, this one is a FA FA FA FOUL! article.

    1. All it took for Netflix to ‘come to Nigeria’ was a flick of a button on a computer somewhere.
    They don’t have 1 cent invested into ‘coming to Nigeria’ beyond what they are doing now.

    Therefore if only 1 person in nigeria subscribes to Netflix , that’s a $8 dollar increase in profit.
    so where is the fail? for a techie this is a rather weird oversight.

    if you had geoblock on mobilityarena to some countries in place and you remove the geoblock tomorrow, wouldn’t you laugh if someone told you mobilityarena will fail in that country?

    2. you probably need to research on IrokoTV, 60% upwards of Iroko subscribers are actually located in Western Countries. the same countries where Netflix is king…. don’t you think your calculations are rather apposite?

    similar to point 1 above, every year somebody turns up with a similar IrokoTV will fail article. 8 years and counting. if you understand that streaming technology does not work like Alaba CDs you won’t have this issue

    3. On the data aspect, anyone who has used Netflix will tell you depending on selected settings it is actually tailored to your data capacity. on auto it shapes to lower resolutions according to bandwidth. other wise you can choose between LowRes = 480P optimized (Consumes 300MB per hour)
    Standard Res = 720P optimized (consumes 700MB per hour)
    High Res
    Ultra High res….

    How many hours of TV do i watch daily that 300MB of data per hour is too much? Netflix is not for people who buy 200Mb data today, its for the likes of those who buy 50GB data for 15k.

    This type of consumption is pretty standard for anyone who uses youtube right now. Err there are many of us who use Youtube today, despite all the bad data talk. i daresay i prefer paying for netflix so i can choose what to watch and when, rather than pay 14k for DSTV that i can’t control. Explora is too expensive for regular people…

    And need i say its not a livestream service, so you can buffer………..

    Basically those who will use Netflix will. with all the piracy, alaba boys, etc, many people still watch nollywood movies on youtube.

    Besides you assume everyone finds it convenient to be hunting shady sites and torrents? Geeks and Internet Savvy folks are a minority, ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS.

  6. There are many was to looking at this: Netflix being a failure in Nigeria is more of having a little number of people subscribing for it. I’ve already stated points why this would be so.

    if you understand that streaming technology does not work like Alaba CDs you won’t have this issue//
    How many people would rather prefer to pay more for streaming, rather than buying the “cheaper’ available CD’s?

    Netflix is not for people who buy 200Mb data today, its for the likes of those who buy 50GB data for 15k.//
    How many people can afford to be buying 50 GB data for 15k monthly? That’s what you should be looking at.

    Besides you assume everyone finds it convenient to be hunting shady sites and torrents? Geeks and Internet Savvy folks are a minority, ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS.//
    I never assumed that, but then, the average Nigerian would rather buy this CD’s than pay for streaming it. You yourself know that.

  7. I agree with every point made by Ashipa. Also, its just a matter of time before a Telco makes available something decent to support the service. Etisalat is just re-wrapping an old package with the N400/2hrs streaming which wasn’t good enough anyway, but expect something better soon. Too much noise about the poor internet services anyway, while not very good, its functional with at least two telcos, by functional I mean I watch YouTube on my 15km traffic laden commute with only one or two breaks over the average 2-3 hr stretch.

  8. I stumbled on this article yesterday while doing research on streaming services in Nigeria. All i can say now is woooowwwww only if the writer saw the future, i also wonder how he feels 4 years after and Netflix is a huge hit in Nigeria. Netflix subscriptions are even Naira rated now.

    I was wondering if the CEO of Netflix had the writer’s mindset, will Netflix be in Nigeria today?? At some point, companies need to take risks. Just like how MTN took the risk of coming to Nigeria shortly after we commenced our democratic journey from long years of military rule, analysts didn’t see our Telecoms sector as worth investing in then. Vodacom believed what the analysts said about the Nigerian Telecoms industry, they later regretted not coming in when MTN came in and started cashing out.

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