Netflix talks to Business Insider about its plans for Africa

In this interview, the American streaming company talks to Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa about opportunities for local filmmakers, subscribers in Nigeria and its budget.

Filmmaker Genevieve's 'Lion heart' is Netflix's first original film from Nigeria
  • In September, 2018, Netflix acquired its first original movie from Nigeria- Genevieve Nnaji's 'Lion heart' 
  • Three months later, the company announced its plans to commision original African series in December, 2018
  • Netflix tells us all about it in this interview.

For a while, it looked like Africa was not a part of Netflix's plan for global content domination. This changed when it made its way to Africa for the first time in 2016.

After launching in all 54 African countries, Netflix showed the first hint of interest in original African content when it advertised for a director of content acquisition for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. This was earlier in May.

This was soon followed by news of the acquisition of Netflix's first original film from Nigeria - Genevieve Nnaji's comedy "Lionheart" - for an undisclosed amount. Then Netflix announced its plans to invest in the African film industry by ordering local original series from next year.

In the streaming giant's vice president of international originals, Erik Barmack's words, the company's Europe team is "in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It's definitely the case that we'll commission some series there in…2019." 

This was soon followed by the reveal of Netflix's first original series from Africa, 'Queen Sono'.

In this interview, Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa talks with the American streaming company about its plan for Nigeria, Africa, opportunities for local filmmakers, subscribers and its budget.

Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa (BI SSA): As Netflix is fast-growing on the African continent, what are the opportunities filmmakers stand to gain from the streaming service?

NETFLIX: We believe that great storytelling comes from everywhere in the world and from many distinctive voices. The African continent presents opportunities both for Netflix and filmmakers and we are actively searching for fresh differentiated stories from the African continent. We have licensed the Nigerian film Lionheart as a global original which will be coming to the service in January 2019.

BI SSA: What is the percentage of Netflix subscribers in Nigeria and the rest of the continent?

NET: We are happy with the interest from members since the launch. We do not release subscriber numbers for specific regions. Netflix reaches 130 million members in over 190 countries all around the world.

BI SSA: Are there any particular production companies or filmmakers, scriptwriters or actresses and actors the streaming service is interested in working with?

NET: We have already started working with creatives from the African continent such as filmmaker Kagiso Lediga. We will also be working with South African actress, Pearl Thusi, who will star as Queen Sono, in our first Netflix Original Series in Africa.

BI SSA: Are you looking at having a physical presence in Nigeria or any part of Africa anytime soon considering its potential film industry?

NET: There are no plans set as yet. We are following the local industry closely and focusing more on content rather than physical presence.

BI SSA: According to a Variety report, 85% of your $13 billion budget will be spent on original content, how much of this will Netflix be spending in Nigeria specifically since Nollywood is the biggest film industry in the continent?

NET: In 2018 we expect to spend close to $8 billion all over the globe. We do not release specifics for any one territory.

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