×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nigeria Looks to Formats to Boost TV Biz

Producers ready for homegrown hits as brands drive growing market

CANNES — With the market for global TV formats rapidly evolving, and the balance of power shifting from traditional stalwarts like the U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands to new players like Turkey, South Korea, Israel, and Japan, Nigerian bizzers are hoping a format boom could emerge from Africa’s most populous nation.

Fourteen years after Ultima Studios struck gold with the Nigerian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” paving the way for a surge of unscripted formats like “Big Brother Naija” and “Nigerian Idol,” local producers are energized by a fast-growing TV sector in a country that last year emerged from its worst recession in 25 years.

Across Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and entertainment capital, new studios are being built. Years of investment in the country’s homegrown Nollywood film industry – long known for its low budgets and shoddy production values – has helped to raise technical standards. Meanwhile, mobile penetration and consumption is rising, while the impending digital transition is expected to introduce a host of new, content-hungry broadcasters.

“The market is there for the taking,” said Neil Oyenekan, managing director and CEO of Lighthouse Television & Filmworks, at a panel discussion at Mipformats on Sunday. “The only thing [missing] is the content itself.”

For the past decade, the Nigerian market has been dominated by international heavyweights like “Millionaire” and “Project Fame West Africa.” Proven formats continue to grab a foothold in Nigeria: Last month, Ultima inked deals with Sony and FremantleMedia, respectively, to produce local versions of “Lion’s Den” and “Family Feud.”

But “there is a bit of an evolution now,” according to Duncan Irvine, CEO of South African production company Rapid Blue, which has spent close to a decade working in Nigeria. That’s opened the door for original formats that local production companies can export to the rest of the world.

That process is still in its early stages. “We’re just entering that phase whereby we’re getting the kind of investment required to make formats that we can take globally,” said Oyenekan, who said a homegrown format could be ready for international markets as soon as Mipcom this year.

Nigerian producers don’t have the same safety net as their counterparts in more developed markets, where a knock-out idea could be enough to secure funding from a broadcaster. Local networks won’t commit to a new show unless it arrives fully-financed, with producers doing the legwork to get brands on board before buying air time from the broadcaster.

Convincing corporates to hitch their brand to an untested format isn’t necessarily a system that rewards moon-shot ideas from producers willing to take risks. But the upside in Nigeria is a massive youth demo, with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Advertisers have taken notice. “All of the biggest brands in the world are there, and…we’re seeing them invest in content,” said Oyenekan.

Nigerian producers are hoping to see more success stories like “Gulder Ultimate Search,” a homegrown format sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. Still, most brands proceed with caution, and that takes time. “These [projects] are coming from brands, and not networks, so it’s a longer gestation period,” said Oyenekan. “But it’s beginning to happen.”

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content