It’s amazing to look back on how far and how fast things continue to grow in nollywood. It’s becoming more and more true everyday that in this industry if you blink you might miss something. Come January of 2018, NR turns 7! And in the seven short years that we’ve been around we have gone through many phases of accessing nollywood movies.
Once upon a time, the nollywood in diaspora audience (aka nollywood fans who do not live in Nigeria) had two main options for watching Nigerian movies and both of them were mostly illegal. Option one was to buy it from the African store, and 9 times out of 10, that was an illegal copy of the movie. Many of these movies were the 10 in 1 film DVDs, and I just have a hard time believing that any one producer consented to having their work mixed in with that of 9 others and being sold for $2.99.
Then the other option was simply to watch the movie illegally on YouTube. YouTube used to be a booming arena for nollywood. You would find such a vast array of nollywood movies on YouTube with their multiple parts and sequels. Those days came to an end with the era of Jason Njoku.
Jason Njoku brought us irokotv and alongside Google’s copyright laws, he was able to on one hand take down a vast majority of the illegal content on YouTube, and on the other hand create some sort of YouTube monopoly. He was able to do this by being the only one authorized to distribute these movies on YouTube. Hence, if you wanted to watch a Nigerian movie online, you were more than likely going to end up doing it on irokotv’s YouTube channel.
And then the era of YouTube began to slide away, enter irokotv.com. Jason Njoku and his team moved over to their own dedicated website which became a library of its own for all content. It was touted as ‘the Netflix of Nollywood’ and if you were any sort of a nollywood fan then you had to have an irokotv account. As this went on, other competitors began to popup and then came ibakatv.
On the home front, the amount of Nigerian movies releasing in the theatres continued to increase. We went from just a few cinemas to many more, and not just in Lagos alone. Eventually, the turn around time on Nigerian movies in the theatres began to decrease. I recently read an article, linked here, that might explain why this happened. However, I can still remember my joy and awe the first time I was able to watch a Nigerian cinema release online in less than 12 months after its release.
You see after the experience of waiting for movies like “Ije” “The Figurine” and “The Meeting“, being able to see a movie online in under a year – legally! – was an experience we could not take for granted.
And as we continue to grow, the avenues for watching nollywood content online, especially for the diaspora audience without access to the Nigerian cinemas and African Magic and EbonyLife Tv, continues to expand. Asides from irokotv and the likes, production houses are now coming up with their own VoD services – like DesAmour, and TV stations are following suit, e.g EbonyLifeOn. (List of places to watch nollywood movies online)
This year, there’s even more good news for the diaspora audience with the announcement of a worldwide release for “The Wedding Party 2”. The poster has releases slated for the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa and other places in addition to Nigeria. We are really hopeful that this means some sort of international cinema run and if this succeeds we hope this paves the way for other nollywood movies to begin releasing abroad as well – I mean, Bollywood movies release in American theatres, I don’t see why our movies can’t as well.