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Creative Nigeria focuses on CBN

Creative Nigeria Summit

The third edition of the Creative Nigeria Summit, organised by Think Tank Media and Advertising, was held at Radisson Blu Hotel in Ikeja Lagos.

Themed Finance for Growth, this year’s focus was on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s intervention initiative and how it can have the best impact on the Nigerian economy.

The event, on September 30, kicked off with opening remarks by the chairman of Digital Play, Toyin Subair, who emphasised the importance of this gathering as a way of merging the creative space with the financial space.

Noting the relevance of financing, which is crucial to the growth of the creative industry, he said that the industry was now secure for investment.

Godwin Emefiele, keynote speaker and governor of CBN, stressed the important roles the creative industry is playing and the various measures the bank and the bankers’ committee has put in place to ensure the growth of the industry.

Emefiele, who was instrumental in the establishment of the creative industry financing initiative fund, said that over N22bn in initial funds have been made available to support the creative industry.

He said: “Efforts must be made to harness the innovative creative ideas of our youths.”

The measures include supporting start-ups and emerging businesses in the creative space by developing a 40-acre creative park that will enable creatives to showcase their works and also reward creativity in the music, movie, fashion and IT industries.

They are also supporting the development of digital platforms so people have access to mobile financial services they can link to their phones.

In addition, they are developing more than 50 additional cinemas to make movies more affordable and ensuring textile designers are able to source and produce garments in Nigeria.

Emefiele said that banks are ready to work with businesses to give loans as long as they are willing to pay them back.

He said this will help support over 10,000 Nigerians with creative skills, provide over 200 direct and indirect jobs, thereby curbing unemployment, and also prevent copyright infringement, piracy and smuggling of textile materials.

“Creatives in the creative industry should note that they have partners in the CBN and bankers committee and we will continue to ensure skills are harnessed for the growth of our creative industry,” he concluded.

The Creative Nigeria Summit is dedicated to bridging the knowledge gap between the media industry and Nigerian financial institutions.

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CNS upbeat about digital era

Creative Nigeria Summit 2018 wrapped up successfully on Tuesday with a full day of in-depth masterclasses and industry discussions.

The second and final day of Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS) 2018 kicked off with a plenary discussion focused on coproduction that featured Sanjay Salil, MD of MediaGuru, Waterstone Entertainment CEO Jeff Kallegheri and producer and host Eunice Omole and was moderated by Africa MediaWorks CEO Lindsey Oliver.

According to the panel, the key to the right coproduction is focusing on the fundamentals, by looking at your environment before going to Hollywood. They all agreed that building relationships locally is essential for growth, although honesty and good reputation are also key.

Meanwhile, Salil warned against having certain expectations when coproducing: “If someone tells you to change things too much, don’t do it. If you are convinced that you shouldn’t do something, don’t compromise. Always have editorial control, never bend over completely to change your story.”

Speakers line up on day two of CNS2018

In his keynote speech, Vesselin Shaoulov, CEO of GARB Audience Measurement in Bulgaria, gave an in-depth insight into the importance of audience measurement within the television and film industries. During his presentation, guests were made aware of the processes involved in audience measurement and ratings.

“Effective and successful media products target the right audience and communicate with them in an effective way. As the media industry becomes more fragmented, so competition for the audience share becomes more intense than ever. Knowing precisely who your target audience are and what makes them tick is therefore increasingly important,” said Shaoulov.

Offering a completely different perspective on retaining audience attention, Nigerian writer Tolu Ajayi returned with another masterclass, this time focusing on the power of telenovelas and how to create them locally.

“Firstly, you must legally acquire telenovelas to adapt them. Then you write in your own backgrounds and characters in a way that your viewers can relate to but ensure that in editing you keep it as close to the original as possible,” he said.

The secret to international formats Anahita Kheder, senior VP for the Middle East, Africa and South East Europe at FremantleMedia, gave her take on the secret to international formats: “Use the right platform for the right audience and generate revenue for your local content by going global,” she said.

“You don’t need to produce a pilot to share your content. Why not sell your story instead, sell the script and have someone else produce the film, but ensure that your rights are protected.

“Sometimes being on TV is unnecessary – try digital instead. Many projects began on a digital platform. At FremantleMedia, we don’t leave the virality of our content to chance. If we want it to go viral we put in the work, we put ourselves out there, making sure our content remains relevant to audiences around the world,” said Kheder.

In a panel session moderated by Africa MediaWorks’ Oliver, Play TV chief Toyin Subair asked a panel of advertising agency and media execs – including Viacom Africa’s Bada Akintunde; Anthony Ekun, creative director at SO&U; and Tolulope Ajayi, branded content manager at Insight Communications – to address the issue of “unfair mediation” by agencies in the media industry.

“You are the ones who will lose if brands go digital without the interference of agencies, so I ask: what solutions do you propose to this, because you make more money out of these deals. You’ve stated the problems and directed them at the producers and directors, but where do you come in?” asked Subair.

Akintunde replied that he couldn’t speak for the other agencies but believes that the media industry should jointly deliberate on how these issues can be solved.

However, the panelists agreed that brands are becoming more forthcoming with audience engagement and are improving the content they produce, making each advert relatable to its target audience.

Elsewhere, Ed Waller, editorial director of UK publisher C21Media, delivered a report on the international formats market. “The value of the global formats industry has more than doubled since 2004 and demand for local programming is the key to this growth,” he said.

The last plenary discussion was about the effectiveness of social media in the media industry. The session was moderated by Tobi Balogun, CEO of TobyDonut, featuring Tiwalola Olanubi, lead creative at DottsMediaHouse, and Olufemi Oguntamu, CEO of Penzaarville Africa, who spoke about the importance of social media to marketing.

According to the speakers, social media is a way to advertise as though you are not advertising. In that way you get people talking about a movie long before it begins to air and it helps to keep your audience interested and engaged.

“If you are a producer, you don’t need to fight to get your content on TV – try digital media. That’s what [child comedian] Emmanuella did with YouTube. However, you need to understand that what worked yesterday may not work today, but always bear in mind that getting content on social media doesn’t require a huge budget,” said Balogun.

The event wrapped with a vote of thanks from Taiwo Olakunle, MD of Think Tank Media & Advertising, organiser of Creative Nigeria Summit.

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Creative mindset

Think Tank Media & Advertising MD Taiwo Olukunle talks to Content Nigeria about the upcoming two-day Creative Nigeria Summit taking place in Lagos.

Taiwo Olukunle

The Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS) is an annual event organised by Think Tank Media & Advertising (TTMA) in partnership with the Ministry of Information & Culture.

After the success of the maiden edition, held last year, it is scheduled to hold this year’s summit on July 16 and 17 at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos.

The two-day event aims to bring together international and local media professionals to discuss the latest trends and innovations in TV, technology, OTT services and content creation, acquisition and distribution.

Here Taiwo Olukunle, MD of TTMA, tells Gabriella Opara about the summit’s purpose and shares her insights.

This is the second edition of CNS. How different will it be from last year?
This year the focus is on content. Hence the theme, Content: The Future of Nigerian Film and Television in a Digital Era.

What makes CNS different from other conferences?
The aim of the summit is to build a structure that leaves behind a sustainable legacy and puts proper structures in place to develop the creative industry and diversify the Nigerian economy.

What should participants look forward to?
This year’s event promises to be a lot more impactful, as we ceaselessly move to grow the Nigerian creative industry with this gathering of creative minds. Registration is free. Interested participants can register by simply logging on to our website at www.creativenigeria.org.

The Federal Ministry of Information & Culture is in partnership with your company to bring about this event. Tell us more about this collaboration.
The aim of the summit is to build a structure that leaves behind a sustainable legacy. We intend to push this focus as an initiative of the ministry’s efforts to develop the creative industry and diversify the Nigerian economy.

Can you give us some details about the speakers that will be at the conference?
We have taken the time to invite top international speakers from the US, Europe and Asia and, of course, the leading content providers and TV owners in Nigeria as well. These speakers include Mo Abudu, Bada Akintunde Johnson, John Giwa-Amu, Sanjay Salil, Jeff Kalligheri, Avi Armoza and more. [For further information, click here.]

Tell us about TTMA.
We are an independent media planning, media buying creative (traditional and digital) and events management agency, focused on developing and providing world-class services to both local and international clients.

We have a mix of marketing communications professionals with expertise in market research, messaging and project management. We are also specialists in design and digital media deployment, community management, branding, design deployment and online community, publicity and brand perception.

Our core competence lies in online reputation management, public relations and social media expertise. We build brands through a combination of targeted demographics campaigns, high-end designs and precise, pin-point deployment. We design visuals for digital media publicity and tell our clients’ stories through precise, content based engagement strategies.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
The second season of the Creative Nigeria Summit is here. You are invited. See you at the Eko Convention Centre!

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Making African media work

Content Nigeria hears from Lindsey Oliver, CEO of Africa MediaWorks (AMW), creator of the Yanga TV channel and former director of TVC, on the first day of the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS).

Lindsey Oliver at the Creative Nigeria Summit

In this exclusive interview, Oliver discusses her take on the content market in Nigeria, her current projects and her experiences at the ongoing CNS.

Tell us about your experience in the African television landscape.
I previously worked at TVC but, even before that, when I was at Bloomberg, Al Jazeera and CNBC, I came to Africa quite a lot – certainly more than most people in the industry were coming to Africa. I’ve been to Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi and North Africa.
I got an opportunity to come to Nigeria to advise TVC on best practice and help out with their commercial department to create more advertising revenue in 2016 for a year.

How was that for you? Did you leave fulfilled?
I did, I loved it. For the last four months, I was asked to be the interim CEO. That was incredibly interesting because I was able to have a look at the company and see how everything was working. It was a wonderful job and I was very lucky to have it.
I got back to the UK with the aim of having something more than just kissing goodbye to Nigeria, and that’s why we set up AMW and the Yanga TV channel. Yanga TV is for African diaspora but particularly for Nigerian and West African diaspora.

Do you think Nigerians living in Nigeria can relate to the content as well?
I hope so. We are buying content from Nigeria to show on the channel and then creating our own content. We have a lovely studio in West London and I’m making content that I will bring down to Nigeria.
There is definitely a crossover. When I speak to people in the UK who are either Nigerian or of Nigerian heritage, they’ve got a connection and are very interested in hearing about the Nigerian content that is seeping back to the UK. We are showing a lot of contemporary Nollywood movies as well.

How did the name Yanga come about?
I didn’t want something that was from any one Nigerian language because then that suggests it’s for only one tribe, and we weren’t seeking that. I said I’d like something in pidgin that could also appeal to outside countries.
I had a list of pidgin words but I chose Yanga because it’s ‘show-off.’ Someone said ‘yanga’ was a bit rude, but I wanted it because it grabs your attention and because this is a community that has something to shout about.

How are the ratings for Yanga going?
Really well. It’s always a challenge for any African channel with the ratings system in the UK. They are horribly under-represented on the system but, regarding other methods of ratings, we are performing much better. We are doing well compared to other African channels.
However, I feel that the African channels as a group aren’t really punching their weight, and I’m sure it’s not because people are not watching. It’s because the panel is very small and there aren’t many Africans on it.

What steps would you take for Yanga TV to be better represented?
We are looking at other ratings systems, especially those showing we rate much better. We are also making sure of our marketing and promotion of the Yanga website. We buy content in Nigeria but can’t show all of it here because it would be really expensive to buy a satellite signal here. So what we’ve done is to make nine or 10 series – from comedies to cartoons for children – available on the Yanga website so they can be accessed in Nigeria.

What other initiatives is AMW working on?
AMW is a brand that celebrates and promotes West African diaspora in the UK. I hope it will go further than that but right now we’re pretty young; our TV channel has been on air for only four months, though we were building things and making programmes long before that. AMW also has a fine-art photography prize, where we invite professional fine artists to submit their works to be showcased in a gallery in London.

Is there a plan to turn that into video content?
Yes, we will show that story and the prize for the winner is us commissioning a piece of work. If we can continue this year-on-year, we can acquire a lot of contemporary African photographic art. This initiative is quite different from Yanga, which is about celebrating everybody and not just professionals.

Are there any other shows from AMW?
At AMW, we tend to do factual and serial programming. We have Journalists’ Hangout, which we kind of borrowed from TVC News. There we get people talking about daily issues in Africa and the Africa diaspora. It’s currently airing on Friday nights on TVC News.

What have you learned here at CNS 2018?
Jeff Kalligheri, CEO at Waterstone Entertainment, is always interesting to listen to and, being from a Hollywood background, it’s great to hear what he would want from a producer. I know what I would like as a small channel ,but Jeff represents Hollywood and you have FremantleMedia and Sony Pictures TV represented as well, so they are all big boys and it’s interesting to hear what they have to say.
They mentioned why big companies get nervous buying into big ideas – because it may come back to hurt them years later if somebody decides to sue them if they had a similar idea. So all sharing of ideas must be well documented and perhaps trademarked or copyrighted so producers can’t claim that a company’s project was based on their idea.

Talking about sharing, is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I would love to push people to view Yanga. We will be giving out content on other platforms. The Yanga channel will launch on a TV platform here in Nigeria sometime in the future. I would love to see how Nigerians react to the content made by the Nigerian diaspora; it’s important that we build a bridge that goes both ways. Yanga is also on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. We are everywhere, really, so even though you can’t switch on linear TV to access Yanga, you can check us out digitally.

In conclusion, what do you think about the CNS this week?
I recently spoke about the need to have a market in Nigeria, for young producers here, so they don’t have to always go to the south of France or LA or to Johannesburg for those other big markets. Then I realised there is a market happening right here during the coffee breaks, which is brilliant. There’s great potential here and there’s no reason the Creative Nigeria Summit can’t grow into that.

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Nigeria looks to the future at CNS 2018

Gabriella Opara offers a round-up of the first day of the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS), which began in Lagos yesterday.

Delegates pack out a session at the Creative Nigeria Summit

The second edition of the CNS has seen more than 1,000 TV industry professionals and media entrepreneurs converging to discuss the future of Nigerian TV in the digital age.

Media figureheads from several countries are at the summit, including EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu, Sony’s Kunle Falodun, Anahita Kheder from FremantleMedia, Lindsay Oliver from African Medi Works, MediaGuru chief Sanjay Salil, UK producer Emma Smithwick and Lighthouse TV & Filmworks CEO Neil Oyenakan.

The event began with a welcome address from Nigeria minister of information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who discussed several initiatives that have been put in place since last year’s CNS. These include anti-piracy policies, the creation of interest-friendly loans, the development of better infrastructure and the setting up of audience rating and measurement systems.

Speakers and panellists addressed various topics targeted at the television and film industry in the country and how to further develop it.

Mo Abudu

The first panel discussion featured Kheder, Oliver and Falodun, as well as US producer Jeff Kallegheri and C21Media founding partner and commercial director Odiri Iwuji. With the panel focusing on how Nigerian producers can crack the international market, delegates heard of the need to create high-quality content that appeals to local and international audiences and the importance of finding the right partners.

“Relationships are an important thing in the industry,” said Kallegheri, CEO of Waterstone Entertainment. “Connect with people wherever you get the chance. Also, take time to develop your content – ensure it’s up to par before thinking of marketing it.”

In a later panel session focused on drama, Abudu, Iwuji, Smithwick, Sahil and Kallegheri all stressed the importance of creating relatable content, as this defines “the power of drama.”

Abudu explained: “One of the most important elements of drama is to create content everyone can relate to, within your target audience. This is one of the things we had in mind when we created dramas such as Sons of Caliphate and Castle & Castle on Ebonylife TV.”

Kallegheri added: “Timing is everything. Just because a show doesn’t have much viewership now doesn’t [mean it won’t] have a great audience in years to come.”

Elsewhere, Digital Play executive chairman Toyin Subair touched on some of the issues relating to telcos and content providers in Nigeria. “Nigeria is the biggest market for telecommunication companies and TV platforms. It is the first country to start with TV in sub-Saharan Africa and also one of the leading data-consuming markets in Africa. Yet the biggest telcos and TV platforms in the country are owned and controlled by foreign companies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Smithwick offered this advice to content creators during a masterclass on pitching: “Pitching ideas requires time-consciousness, brand awareness and a thematic approach. Before pitching, ask yourself these question: what’s the core narrative? What’s the theme? And what’s my approach? These will help guide how you pitch, since there is no one way to pitch.”

In a separate masterclass, Tolu Ajayi, CEO of Insight Communications, advised attendees about creating original scripts: “Nothing is really original because we are always inspired by something, so what we are doing is recycling. So the question is, how do you recycle with a fresh take? Well, mix ideas, brainstorm, disrupt, smooth them out, do something old with a new approach. Ideas stem from anywhere – you just need to make yourself accessible to it.”

The first day of the CNS concluded with a keynote address from a representative of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, who spoke about the benefits of taxation to the creative industry in the country.

Content Nigeria will continue to provide news and insight relating to this year’s CNS. For live updates on #CNS2018 day two, follow us on Twitter.

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CNS offers ‘mutual learning’ opportunity

With the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS) underway, Content Nigeria speaks to C21Media editorial director Ed Waller, who is moderating today’s panel discussions, to get his insight into the event and the wider industry.

Ed Waller

Having kicked off earlier with a welcome speech from the Nigeria minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed, the CNS will include panel discussions covering how Nigeria can crack the international TV market, gameshows and audience engagement. Other sessions will include masterclasses on scriptwriting and broadcasting.

You will be moderating a number of sessions today. What can you tell us about what you’re expecting to hear about?
I’m hoping to hear a lot about exciting new content coming up in Nigeria. There are a lot of countries trying to crack the international market, and some of them have done so successfully, like Turkey, Israel and South Korea.
Today we’ll be hearing how Nigeria producers are strategising to do the same. I look forward to hearing about interesting content that has domestic success as well as international appeal – high-quality shows that meet the demand of the world market and audiences. Nigerians can bring a whole new approach to drama with high-quality production.
Take a look at Netflix, for instance. They have a strategy for making local shows in a global market. They don’t shy away from making local content but they make it in such a way that you don’t have to be in the country to understand or enjoy it.
Also, on the unscripted side, Nigerians are at a stage where they are licensing formats from the international market. Those kinds of stories have been reported on Content Nigeria.
The country can see these deals as a nursery slope of getting to a point of original development. With this summit, I believe Nigerians can learn how a format is created and how to execute and produce viable formats successfully. That’s a step to developing your own ideas – ideas so good that they become a hit in Nigeria and worldwide.
So, it’s a well-trodden path and Nigeria is learning as they go. They need to have ratings and measurements to establish these things.

Coming from London, what impact do you suppose the summit will have on the Nigerian market?
I think it’s about mutual learning. There are international producers on the panels who are here to learn about the companies in Nigeria that are creative, that have the juice to create a format or a show they can pick up and distribute around the world. Also, Nigerians will learn what they need to do to make their content appealing. It’s mutual.
Don’t underestimate the need for fresh ideas in the world market. There are so many channels that produce and so many platforms for distribution, whether it’s telcos, cable channels, satellite channels or digital media.

Follow @Content_Nigeria on Twitter for more live updates of #CNS2018. C21Media is a partner in Content Nigeria with Think Tank Advertising & Media.

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Nigeria on the up

FremantleMedia executive Anahita Kheder discusses Nigeria’s position in the African TV market and how it can become a major player in international formats.

Anahita Kheder

In her presentation to last week’s Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS) in Lagos, Anahita Kheder, senior VP for the Middle East, Africa and South Eastern Europe at FremantleMedia, commended the Nigerian TV industry for always going after the best content despite the many challenges it faces.

Kheder said the country would soon be the biggest digital TV market in Africa, due to the fact that it has the largest population (195 million) and the highest density of smartphone users (112%) on the continent.

This mobile-first population means linear TV is not the only way to get content viewed, she added, with many productions using digital media to reach their audiences across different platforms.

FremantleMedia is one of the companies using digital media to its advantage, reaching a total of 308 million people across Instagram (13 million), Twitter (32 million), YouTube (69 million) and Facebook (194 million).

Topping the charts for the most engaging content via these digital platforms is entertainment and talent formats (37%), followed closely by reality shows (36%), gameshow and quiz formats (19%), and dating and relationships programmes (9%).

Kheder told CNS delegates that Got Talent, The Voice, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, Minute To Win It and Money Drop were the top five international formats. The top five global format distributors are FremantleMedia, Endemol Shine Group, Banijay Rights, Warner Bros and All3Media respectively, she added.

Touching on why Nigeria seems to be lagging behind in terms of format development and distribution, Kheder pointed to a lack of a typical commissioning model, a lack of audience measurement, a scattered ad market and a lack of sponsorship.

She called on brands and content creators to speak with one voice, ensuring that everything they do benefits each other, as everyone is in the business to make money. “For this to work, broadcasters, distributors, media agencies and advertisers must work hand in hand,” said Kheder.

She also emphasised that a global outlook is key to making successful scripted formats. “Many formats are better known in foreign countries than in the country they were originally created for. Create local content, something that will appeal to your market, but think global,” she said.

FremantleMedia operates in 31 countries, producing over 11,000 hours of programming a year. It also rolls out more than 60 formats and airs more than 420 programmes around the world annually.

The company also distributes more than 20,000 hours of content in over 200 territories. In Nigeria, it is behind the local versions of Got Talent, Idol, The Price is Right and Family Feud.

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The convergence challenge

Former Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) director general Emeka Mba tells Content Nigeria about the challenges that come with the digital transformation of telcos.

Emeka Mba is interviewed at the Creative Nigeria Summit

Partnerships and collaborations are key to evolving and widening any company’s scope, and in the content industry, telcos and broadcasters have often partnered to launch VoD and OTT services to their customers. This has recently been the case in Nigeria, but the rise of OTT services has brought its own challenges.

At the recently concluded Creative Nigeria Summit, Georgiev Stanislav, head of media broadcasting at A1 Telekom Austria Group, moderated a panel session featuring Toyin Subair, exec chairman of Digital Play, and Emeka Mba, the former director general of the NBC. The panellists discussed the digital transformation of telcos and the resulting challenges.

In this exclusive interview with Content Nigeria, Mba sheds more light on some of these issues and offers solutions.

What are the regulatory challenges facing Nigeria and do you think regulators are holding the industry back?
I wouldn’t say they’re holding back the industry wilfully; no, it’s the way the regulatory environment is set up. The world is converging but, as far as digital media is concerned, they don’t know that. They still operate within a certain scope.
In this country, telecommunications operators are separate from broadcast and satellite; there is not enough synergy between them. Realistically speaking, when technology and consumption patterns are converging, the operators and regulators do not collaborate.
Therefore, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a separation will occur, a tear that causes a backward shift in terms of investment.
The regulatory environment is so unclear that these companies fear that if they lean in too much, they might run the risk of heavy fines. So everybody wants to pull back and hedge their bets. Rather than coming in directly, they prefer to look for gaps and loopholes. They avoid making the right investments. These are where the challenges lie.
I’ve been a regulator in broadcasting and film and I know the challenges. I was one of those who opposed convergence. I said to leave the NBC alone, leave the Nigerian Communications Commission alone, leave the film and music censors board alone, they don’t need to merge.
Now, I’ve come to realise the reality: there would be no link-up if there were no formal discussions, some sort of structure, some kind of talks other than the frequency management council where, they meet and discuss sharing of spectrum and so on.
There should be a body that harmonises these other bodies, especially the business models that are merging. These discussions need to be had.

What solutions do you suggest?
We need to find the best way to create this by having what we call the ‘convergence regulator.’ This could be in the form of an institution or some level of informal discussion with the CEOs of these bodies. They can discuss how these business models are beginning to affect their own industries on a day-to-day basis. That’s important and should be done as regularly as possible, either quarterly or biannually.

Would you say anything has been done correctly in terms of convergence?
Oh yes. Look at what some of the telcos are doing – you have big players like MTN experimenting with video, things like MTN Laughs. They have different apps that they are pushing and that’s quite innovative. Airtel and Globacom are trying to do the same thing. They are doing it but there’s a certain weariness on their part to do it on a grand scale because of the uncertainty of regulators, and that’s what needs to be cleared up. Once it’s cleared up, bigger decisions can then be made.

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Culture minister kicks off Summit

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed kicked off the second edition of the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS) this week, calling on the creative industry to focus on what consumers want.

The CNS is a two-day conference held annually to bring together international and indigenous experts, thought leaders, industry players and renowned professionals within the Nigerian film and television industries to discuss issues affecting the business.

His speech in full:

Good morning gentlemen, and welcome to the 2018 Creative Industry Summit, with the theme Content – The Future of Nigerian Film and Television in a Digital Era.

This is the second edition of the summit, which started last year. The summit has thus become an annual event designed to bring together international and indigenous experts, thought leaders, key players and renowned professionals from the entertainment and media industry, to examine and exchange ideas and innovations, to create sustainable solutions to challenges and harness the full potential of the Nigerian film and television industry.

The two-day summit, put together by Think Tank Media and Advertising Ltd, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, was born and executed out of a desire to urgently transform the film, television and music sectors into a well-structured industry.

The first edition last year achieved several milestones:

Alhaji Lai Mohammed gives his keynote at CNS 2018

i) Following the summit, a delegation of the Nigerian Film and Music Industry, led by my humble self, held a piracy stakeholders’ meeting with the inspector-general of police, resulting in the establishment of police anti-piracy units in all the 36 states. The subsequent extensive piracy raids have led to the confiscation of pirated products worth hundreds of millions of naira.

ii) Granting of pioneer status for the creative industry by the federal government to reduce financial burdens on new investments and encourage both foreign and local investments within the industry.

iii) A meeting with the governor of the Central bank of Nigeria requesting the provision of stimulus capital for the creative industry to be invested through long-tenured single-digit debt to private investors to build 100 community cinemas, six music arenas across the geopolitical zones and state-of-the-art pre- and post-production facilities across the country.

iv)  Granting of special priority status to international and national investors to access foreign exchange.

v)  A sovereign guarantee to back up international loans to achieve any of the stated infrastructure projects.

vi) Co-ordination of an arrangement to establish a world-class media services production company that will produce Premier League [football], music videos for artists, films for Nollywood and TV shows and soaps for television.

vii) Setting up of an audience rating and measurement body for TV and radio, on the back of the ongoing rollout of the digital switch-over (DSO).

During the intervening period between the inaugural edition and the year’s summit, our personal research has been focused on an understanding of what, in particular, the customers in the 24 million TV households in Nigeria really want. We have arrived at the findings that the digitisation of television required a much deeper understanding of customers, content and the quality of delivery of ‘video.’ Yes, I did not use [the word] television and that is because that is not what people all want to watch. They want to watch videos, however they are delivered, including – but definitely not limited to – television.

The landscape has changed. The accelerating shift towards mobile delivery continues unabated and a content rekindling has left consumers feeling lost in a sea of available programming. I believe the time to act is now. Media and entertainment companies that want to stay in the game may need to embark upon a holistic, coordinated and integrated programme of digital innovation to focus their resources, investments and capabilities on the things that truly matter.

With respect to content consumers in Nigeria, a well-researched survey of what the customers want, where they are, what they watch, want to watch, when and how they want it delivered, does not exist. The stakeholders within the ecosystem of the DSO project are unfortunately focused on their immediate economic returns and convenient modules of implementation. But technological growth does not flow along those lines and, in the near future, smart media entities will outstrip all plans, institutions and government power and reach the customer, leaving non-informed players with empty castles.

On the issue of content, Nigeria is the clear leader in raw content in Africa. Nollywood, hip-hop, Afrobeat and our comedians testify to this. But we are hardly monetising them either through production, distribution or royalty collection. In fact, with about 20 billion naira currently expended on the DSO, less than N500m has gone into content. It is apparent Nigeria has forgotten that video, not television, is about content.

And everywhere in the world, Video has exploded via on-demand and live streaming. Online TV or subscription services are now the norm – YouTube, Netflix, Iroko etc. Video is now delivered via social feeds like Facebook, WeChat, LINE etc. Indeed, video is the future of media on the web and is competing with scheduled linear TV content for consumer attention. I implore the key players in the DSO project to focus on any of the above.

A recent survey done in over 42 countries revealed that expected video consumption on devices over the next three years will grow 45% on mobile, 45% on internet-enabled TVs, 40% on tablets and 36% on laptop computers. Traditional TV grew by 0%. This led the researchers to come to the conclusion that video is not only increasingly consumed from the internet, it is clearly going mobile.

TV companies have used their advantage of being first in the homes to introduce data to the homes, thereby not only improving their revenues significantly but securing their roles in the future of video watching. Some 70% of homes in the UK get their data from Sky, Virgin or YouView. In fact, BT, the main telecom operator, rushed to set up their own TV entity, acquiring Champions League football rights and offering it for free, if you buy data from them. Who is doing this in Nigeria? This is where we have to play.

Very soon the race for content will begin. With a significant increase in the number of distribution channels and a variety of content to choose from, the clear winner will be the media company that invests in high-quality original content that has taken into consideration the preferences of the customer. Ultimately, the goal will be to match content with audience expectation and enjoy maximum compensation.

Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to use this opportunity to salute all the players in our creative industry. They have all made Nigeria proud. Between the 2017 summit and this year’s edition, we have seen a harvest of global recognitions for our industry players. Mo Abudu and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde were named among the top 50 women doing extraordinary things on the worldwide stage by Variety magazine, and prolific author Chimamanda Adichie’s novel Americanah was listed in the New York Times’ list of 15 remarkable books by women that are ”shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”

Also, Wizkid has made history by becoming the first African artiste to sell out the Royal Albert Hall in London, while Davido emerged winner of the 2018 BET Award International Act. Congratulations to all these stars who are making our country proud, and indeed to all of you in the rapidly flourishing creative industry

Finally, let me assure you that this administration remains dogged in its determination to grow the creative industry and turn it into a creative economy. I wish you all fruitful deliberations and I thank you for your kind attention.

For more information about the conference, click here. The Twitter hashtag for the event is #CNS2018 and the Instagram account can be found here.

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EbonyLife’s Abudu scales Summit

In a speeech to the Creative Nigeria Summit, EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu, the ‘Oprah of Africa,’ revealed her company’s strategy and ambitions.

Mo Abudu at CNS 2018

Mo Abudu is referred to as the Oprah of Africa, or as Africa’s most successful woman, according to Forbes Magazine.

These epithets are unsurprising as she constantly proves her prowess and dedication to her role as CEO of EbonyLife TV, the first pan-African TV channel owned by an African woman.

In her speech at the second edition of the Creative Nigeria Summit this week, she took us through her journey of the past five years as CEO of EbonyLife TV and gave hints about what to expect from future projects, also giving a detailed account of the drama deal between EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television.

This is her speech in full:

First and foremost, I would like to thank the organisers of the Creative Nigeria Summit for creating this platform for our sector – the media and entertainment sector, the creative sector, the sector of show business. Congratulations on hosting your second summit.

The creative sector is wide and vast and includes so many sectors and sub-sectors, but I will simply focus on what I’ve been asked to speak about today, The Creative Vision and Process Behind Global Drama Hits.

We cannot speak about the creative vision and process behind global drama hits without making reference to global leaders in this space. I would therefore like to share with you a short summary of the most watched shows by some of the largest streaming platforms.

To start with, let’s talk about Netflix.

American Vandal is a comedy drama that takes a look at the aftermath of a high school prank that left 27 faculty members’ cars vandalised. Second, 13 Reasons Why is a drama series that revolves around a teenage girl’s suicide and the mystery around her tragic death. Third, Riverdale is a teen drama series that features a star-studded cast navigating the troubled waters of sex, romance, school and family in the small town of Riverdale

The Sons of the Caliphate looks at the ‘flamboyant aristocratic Northern Nigerian lifestyle’

Now, let’s move on to Amazon. The Man in the High Castle is a history series that offers a scary glimpse at an alternate history in which Hitler won World War Two. Second, One Mississippi is a comedy series about a radio host who returns to Mississippi after receiving news that her mother will be taken off life support. Third, The Tick is a series based on a superhero in a blue tick costume who arrives in the city to help combat crime and uncover the mysterious figure behind the city’s underworld.

Another major streaming giant is HBO, which we’re all familiar with. Game of Thrones is an epic TV series about the tale of royal feuds, dynastic conflict and the struggle for ultimate control in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Second, Big Little Lies, a series about ex-husbands and second wives, schoolyard scandals, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Third, Westworld is a series that centres on a futuristic theme park with some dirty secrets and a Western motif, where the wealthy can pay to experience adventure that real life could never provide

What is important to note is that I have taken the liberty to include EbonyLife ON as a future global giant. Because we believe in global best practices.

Two weeks ago, we launched EbonyLife ON across the continent, a video-on-demand service that allows subscribers all over the world to watch our treasure trove of content for a nominal fee. Since then, we have witnessed nearly 10,000 downloads from our Apple and Google app stores, and our web portal numbers are well over 10,000.

Fifty: The Series follows four women in their middle years

The most watched shows on EbonyLife ON are:

  • Castle & Castle, a legal drama series set in a successful Lagos law firm run by Remi and Tega Castle. Will the marriage survive the business or will the business survive the marriage?
  • The Sons of the Caliphate, a drama series about the lives of three rich, entitled, passionate and ambitious young men. It is a journey into the rich cultural and flamboyant aristocratic Northern Nigerian lifestyle.
  • Fifty: The Series, which follows the lives of four women who are forced to take mid-life inventories as ambition and betrayal threaten their relationships.

Globally, it’s all about the ratings and not sentiment.

From what we can see, it’s all about science-fiction, like Game of Thrones; Murder Mysteries, like 13 Reasons Why and Romance, like our very own Castle & Castle.

So, who decides on setting the creative vision and process? The showrunner.

The showrunner is the 21st century term for the leading executive producer of a Hollywood television series in the US. The concept has since been adopted in the Canadian and British TV industries.

A showrunner typically has creative control of a TV series production, through combining the responsibilities of the head writer, executive producer and script editor.

In order for this vision to become a reality, the showrunner sets up the writers’ room. The writers’ room is the room in which the showrunner and the writers of a television series collaborate on the plot and develop the script.

All writers are expected to participate in the pitching process, speaking up and offering their ideas or listening to everyone else’s pitches. This is where episodes are sliced up for individual writers to develop.

The Wedding Party shows what happens when a couple’s wedding plans go badly wrong

I personally believe the ‘beat sheet’ is one of the most important elements in this process. This is what we as Nigerians and writers across the continent need to spend more time on.

A beat equates to about a minute of show time and there is roughly one page of script per beat.

I would suggest further research in this area. Looking at the work of Blake Synder, an American writer who has developed what is known as a BeatSheet Calculator. According to Snyder, every good script should have a certain structure. There is a lot information online about this process and it’s one that we need to adhere to if we want our stories to be stronger, captivating, entertaining and leave your audience wanting more.

Talking about leaving your audience captivated, entertained and wanting more – even if I say so myself – we achieved this with The Wedding Party. Using global best practices was key to our process. I’d like to share a few key lessons on The Wedding Party franchise with you.

The audience should be able to relate to the story and characters. What we found with The Wedding Party is that it didn’t matter where you were from, how old you were, or your religious background. We’re all able to relate to this story. As we all know, The Wedding Party is an everyday story about a couple’s big wedding plans that turn into a nightmare that includes exes, fighting parents and uninvited guests – most, if not all of us can relate to this.

To ensure our audience can relate to the characters in our script, we spent a great deal of time casting. We looked at the current relevance and social media following of all the actors. The use of A-list actors for The Wedding Party played a huge role in ensuring its success.

The next step was to bring a director on board with a clear vision to guide the cast and crew. Experienced crew for photography, sound, lighting and music were all critical.

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of marketing. With enough time for marketing, you can create anticipation for a film. The Wedding Party began publicity six months before its cinema release, hence the various records broken by The Wedding Party 1 and 2.

In fact, we started marketing the film from the first day on set. Every day during production, we shared the process with our audience with posts on social media and clips from the most interesting behind the scenes moments.

Nollywood’s Richard Mofe-Damijo in Castle & Castle

Screenings at festivals around the world position the film in the world market and attracts buyers. The world premiere of The Wedding Party took place at the Toronto International Film Festival. Getting into an international film festival is in itself another process. We were excited that we had a sold-out premiere with over 1,400 people from all over the world. This event really helped with publicity in social media, blogs and print.

And as you know, we have the largest movie premieres in Nigeria that could have been held anywhere across the globe. From our red carpets, to our dress code, to our themed events, to VVIP list as long as my arm. From the ‘save the dates’ to the invites to the entertainment and dinner, to the after-party.

Generally, all the razzmatazz and paparazzi. This makes for the most glamourous event, we know, as Nigerians we love glamour. This adds to building anticipation of the cinema release.

The Wedding Party was released in the run-up to Christmas, allowing for mid-week afternoon shows to be sold out. We hosted media screenings to help to get mentions of the film out in advance. Once we were in the cinema, we hosted meet and greet events with the cast. We kept our audience excited about our numbers in the box office from week to week.

Last, but not least, I’d like to talk about our partnership with Sony. Just five months ago, we finalised a three-project production deal with Sony Pictures Television and became the first African production company to partner with a major Hollywood studio. Years of development was put into this particular project that Sony chose – major lesson for us – we must also put in the work and be ready.

Finally, I’d like to talk to you about EbonyLife TV. We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary on July 1. We restructured our business to focus on four key areas. We were able to do this because of the lay of the land and the opportunities that we have found in Nigeria over the last six years.

I say six years, because we spent an entire year creating programmes before we launched the channel on July 1, 2013. Prior to that an additional four years on conceptualising the brand you now see. So, a 10-year journey.

EbonyLife TV, our linear channel, broadcasts on DStv 165 and StarTimes 107 and 191 in Africa, and on Flow in 10 Caribbean countries. With the creation of EbonyLIfe TV, we realised that African audiences want to see themselves in their own stories, on television and at the cinema.

They want to see an African narrative that reflects their own struggles and triumphs, the closeness of their relationships and the progress being made in their emerging societies. We were tired of being portrayed in perpetual crisis: war, famine and corruption. We decided to change that narrative.

We know how important it is to continue to change the narrative. We started with TV and within a year of launching EbonyLife TV, we launched EbonyLife Films.

We have produced the biggest films in Nollywood to date. They include Fifty, The Wedding Party movies, Royal Hibiscus Hotel and our new December film, Chief Daddy.

We recently acquired the rights to Professor Wole Soyinka’s play Death & the King’s Horseman. We see this as a global feature film release and we are hard at work on bringing this to the world of global cinema.

EbonyLife Studios is a film production service for in-house projects and third-party clients. We have seen this need grow over the years – a need to service our own productions and that of other commercial organisations requiring the production of events, infomercials, commercials and other video generated content.

EbonyLife ON is our global video-on-demand (VoD) digital service for viewers who want to enjoy high-quality series and movies at their convenience. This expands our reach dramatically, beyond satellite TV platforms. Now, anyone with an internet-connected mobile device can watch our content, no longer constrained by TV schedules or expensive monthly subscriptions.

We are pleased with the numbers we have seen so far – we have nearly 10,000 downloads. This is with little or no advertising, and just shows the potential of the market and the potential within the market.

Research tells us that by 2023 that there will be 10 million SVoD subscribers across the continent of Africa, with the most growth coming from Nigeria and South Africa. The opportunities within our SVoD and digital market are still early stage with no winners at the moment.

We believe the companies with the best content will ultimately win – keeping the consumer in mind and his or her preferences for programming. This is the most exciting part of our business as we believe everything we do is tied to growing into a media tech company.

EbonyLife ON Mobile is a partnership with MTN, Airtel and 9 Mobile. Mobile communications technology has allowed Nigeria to leapfrog into the future with the widespread use of smartphones. Rapidly increasing bandwidth is creating a brand-new landscape for video content producers like us. We work with these telcos on specific special offers – data packaged along with an agreed piece of EbonyLife branded content.

What does the future hold for us?

Our dream is to continue to create premium content and ensure that we are able to distribute this content to the world using the best of technology, giving everyone the opportunity for a limited amount an opportunity to join our world and share our story with audiences across the globe.

My personal philosophy is: “If you can think it, you can do it.” So, when others look at Nigeria or Africa and see challenges, I see opportunity – lots of it. If you can help to solve the problems, the rewards are great.

In a brief Q&A with Africa MediaWorks CEO Lindsey Oliver, Abudu later opened up about how it all started, stating: “I’m a very spiritual person and I believe everything happens through the guidance of God.

“We started at Cross River State. I remember being invited to Calabar by a good friend of mine, meanwhile, as that was happening, one of my sponsors was demanding that I get on social media and threatening to drop Moments with Mo if I don’t. So, I got on social media, sent a tweet saying how much I enjoyed being at Calabar and got to meet the governor. These things didn’t happen all at once but I felt it was preordained.

“At times, you’re never quite sure how it would go, if anybody had told me that joining social media and meeting the governor would lead to where we are today, I may not have believed them. I think the secret is, keep putting your story out there – if I hadn’t shared my vision with the then Cross River State governor and him his, EbonyLife may not have begun operations in Calabar, truly, the plan was actually to launch here in Lagos. So, one key thing to note is, if you don’t share your vision it will never be reality!”

When asked about her views on the regulatory and censorship environment in Nigeria, Mo said: “I think censorship is important but I would like it to be relaxed a bit more because it squashes creativity and if it continues like this, we would lose our audiences to content not created by us. They would begin to consume what’s not local – in fact, that’s already happening. We need to be realistic about what’s happening, we need to be able to share our stories.”

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First Creative Nigeria speakers named

Lagos-based media agency Think Tank Media & Advertising has announced the first speakers for July’s Creative Nigeria Summit.

The two-day event will see speakers address the issue of digitisation in Nigeria with the theme, Content: The Future of Nigerian Television in a Digital Era. UPDATE: The event will now be held in Lagos on July 16 and 17.

The speakers will include top media executives and broadcast journalists with decades of experience in television and film, many of whom have impacted the industry through innovation.

They include:

• Bada Akintunde Johnson, country manager, Viacom International Media, parent company of MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central



• John Giwa-Amu, co-founder of Red & Black Films




• Sanjay Salil, founder of Media Guru and one of India’s top media entrepreneurs


• Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife, a television and film production company




• Avi Armoza, founder of Armoza Formats and one of Israel’s top television producer/distributors


• Anahita Kheder, senior VP, Middle East, Africa and South Eastern Europe, FremantleMedia International


• Jason Njoku, CEO and co-founder of iROKOtv, one of Nigeria’s leading VoD platforms


• Emma Smithwick, film and TV producer and scriptwriter




• Jeff Kalligheri, CEO of Waterstone Entertainment, a production and financing company


The speakers will address more than 2,000 media professionals in various sessions at the Summit, which will include masterclasses, panel discussions and workshops.

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, is expected to deliver the welcoming address at the conference.

For more information and to register for the event, click here.

Think Tank Media & Advertising is an independent media planning, media buying and creative agency working for both local and international clients.

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Creative Nigeria Summit date set

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture

The second edition of the Creative Nigeria Summit is scheduled to take place in July.

More than 2,000 media professionals are expected to attend the two-day summit, organised by Lagos-based Think Tank Media & Advertising in partnership with the Ministry of Information & Culture.

The event will take place from July 17 to 18 and the hashtag for the event is #CreativeNigeriaSummit.

Titled CONTENT: The Future of Nigerian Television in a Digital Era, the conference aims to bring key stakeholders in the Nigerian TV industry together to discuss ways the media industry in Nigeria can be properly structured and how to put the necessary TV infrastructure in place to enhance content, production and creativity.

The summit will comprise sessions including workshops, masterclasses and panel discussions. A welcome address will be made by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture The event will be broadcast by Play TV on channels 100 and 400.

Think Tank is an independent media planning, media buying and creative agency focused on developing and providing services to both local and international clients.

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