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Tuesday, 20 February 2024 17:30

[OPINION] Nigeria’s growing pool of unlicensed digital TV stations - Bell Ihua

Nigeria has a new crop of digital television stations, in their hundreds and possibly thousands, that are giving terrestrial, cable/pay, and free-to-air TV operators a run for their money. These unlicensed, unregulated, and mostly untrained TV stations comprise the numerous digital content pages that litter the country’s social media space. From regular everyday happenings to the seldom seen and unheard of, these digital stations offer an array of creative content, featuring comical and sidesplitting moments, junk journalism, societal trends, loyalty tests, blind dates, pranks, and all sorts of citizens’ reportage and social experiments that reflect the appetite of its audience, and exposes the underbelly of a weakening social fabric. This piece discusses the proliferation of digital content creators in Nigeria, from the perspective of seven distinct categories. It also highlights key creative clusters and interesting sectoral nuances based on observation.

In January 2021, Africa Polling Institute (API), an Abuja-based opinion research think-tank, released its first study on Nigeria’s digital content space, titled:  Skit Economy: An Assessment of Digital Content Creators in Nigeria. I served as principal investigator on the study, which sought to examine the ubiquity of digital content creators, especially amongst the protuberant youth demography. The study adopted a mixed methods approach, gathering quantitative and qualitative data to explore the potential of skit-making to create jobs, generate wealth, and stimulate the economy; while examining the challenges faced by creatives. Firstly, we highlighted the huge appetite for digital content in Nigeria, as two-thirds of citizens affirmed that they watched comedy skits, as a way to relax and de-stress. Secondly, social media platforms like Facebook (58%), Instagram (34%), and YouTube (18%) are the channels through which people watch digital content. Thirdly, content creators have evolved from producing content for merely fun and comedy, to disseminating information, marketing commercial brands, and advocating social change. Fourthly, Broda Shaggi (35%), Mark Angel (26%), Mr. Macaroni (15%), Taaooma (12%), and Lasisi Elenu (11%) were ranked the top five skit-makers in Nigeria.

Following the release of the publication and the traction generated, API constituted a Digital Content Observatory that has continued to monitor trends within the new media space in Nigeria, and this piece draws extensively from our observations. We have observed, for example, that the sub-sector has become highly proliferated, growing exponentially over the last two years, with hordes of new entrants now making a living, and addressing themselves, as Content Creators. In addition, many digital content creators, especially on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, now focus on specific niches of creative content, as opposed to being jacks of all trades. Consequently, within these niches, consumers are exposed to the good, bad, and ugly; from the funny, informative, and inspiring, to the ridiculous, uncouth, offensive, and outrightly unbelievable. The Observatory has identified at least seven distinct categories of digital content pages on Facebook alone, discussed below, consistently dishing out creative content, keeping viewers hooked, and fiercely competing for screen time with other television outlets.

Comedy Skits – Traditional comedy skits from the likes of Broda Shaggi, Mr. Macaroni, Lasisi Elenu, Taaooma, Sydiwundi, Josh2Funny, Nasboi, TriClowns, Davidsyn Comedy, and AshMusy, constitute the first distinct category of digital content pages you’ll find on Facebook. These folks produce skits mainly for entertainment; and often for marketing and informational purposes, such as EgungunOfLagos, whose skit attempts to cost the outfits of his celebrity guests; OlaofLagos, who advertises luxury cars; and Gehgeh, who offers entrepreneurship and financial counseling in pidgin English. Interestingly, over the last couple of years, artists like Sabinus, Brain Jotter, Layi Wasabi, and GorosoEkiti have honed their arts to gain significant influence within the social space.

Movies – The second category comprises social media pages that regularly post content from Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood. Often, these Facebook pages upload short captivating clips from recent Nollywood movies, while directing the public to their YouTube pages to watch the full movie. They include Confirm Nollywood, Nollylove Movies, NollyMateTv, NollyVision, and Mirian Movies on Facebook. This is not forgetting the likes of RuthKadiriTv, OmoniOboliTv, DestinyEtikoTv, AdaKirikiriTv, and UchennaMbunaboTv among others consistently dishing out great Nollywood movies on YouTube. I will leave these for a future piece.

Pranks – The third category are tricks and mischievous acts targeted at the unsuspecting public. While some people may find them funny, others find them quite offensive, as they often constitute public nuisance. Imagine raising false alarms to scare people, disguising as a madman to irritate passersby, eating a stranger’s food without invitation, or fooling around with the ubiquitous cucumber-in-pant ruse termed Gbola prank. The main culprits in this category are Machigoldpranks, Untouchable Comedies, Flowerboy Comedy, Teaserprank, Bob2funny Comedies, DerexxTv, McNoni, Iamtrinityguy, TwinsOfAfrica, and CheffingKing, whose latest escapade has been the phony and raunchy character, Dr. Akajiukwu, who specializes in ladies' massage. Creatives in this category are merchants of [vawulence] as they call it, and their slogan is “I don’t want peace, I want problems always”.

Blind Dates and Loyalty Tests – These are pages that help singles find love and match-make those in search of relationships. The frontliners are Playmate Comedy, Blind Date TV, NonsMiraj, Splendor’s Diary, NaijaNicki, and Freshwin_Officiall. A subset of this category specializes in matching older ladies/sugar mummies with younger sugar boys, as seen on Sweet.Curlins, Qualityc Comedian, and Chidera Comedy. Interestingly, while some persons have been lucky to find their soul mates on these platforms, others have ended up in rather unpleasant gbas-gbos. Yet, there are persons already in relationships who seek to test the loyalty of their partners, thus reaching out to content creators like - The Honour, Officialjulezz, The Help House TV, and Keezynasion.

Conflict Resolution – Yet again, some digital content pages have become experts in conflict resolution, especially as it pertains to relationship issues, family disagreements, and dealing with life’s challenges. These content creators are filling a major gap in alternative dispute resolution, as you would often find cases that should ordinarily be reported to the police or taken to the courts being treated and settled amicably. The leading lights in this category are MC Reality, Deacon_Famous, Chiamaka Ugoo Tv, Maryjanetv, Ada Uli, Sonia Official, IpallyTalker, JattoTV, PavicTv, AnnyCourage, OG Baba1, Theo Ayoms, and Spartacuz Nation.

Confessions – If you think you’ve heard unbelievable stories, you may need to check out this category of digital content. They present shocking, unbelievable, and even dreadful happenings; similar to confessions one would find on Nkan Mbe, the now-rested 1990s Yoruba show that presented strange occurrences back in the day. On these Facebook pages, you’ll hear about confessions and exposés that would make your ears tingle, from persons in distress as a result of the repercussions of past deeds, who consider these content pages appropriate for public confession. The heavyweights are UncleNasco, Skitlord Comedy, Rosy TV, Nobodybunu, De RealOma, Alamnaco, and Comedian Gwagon.

Philanthropy – The seventh distinct category of digital content are pages that engage in charity and philanthropic activities. The impact of these content creators on the lives of their beneficiaries can be instantly seen and felt. Although most content creators often do “giveaways” as a way to reward loyal fans and drive followership, pages under this category exist purely for charitable causes. OsitaPopcorn is a leading philanthropist in this space. He has recently incorporated the OsitaPopcorn Foundation and acquired a bus to enhance his charity operations. Other pages under this category include: Oga Amos and A. A. Clown, who continue to put smiles to the faces of ordinary Nigerians through their extraordinary acts of kindness.

In conclusion, we’ve observed that most content creators have unique straplines that differentiate them from others. For instance, MC Reality would say, “What’s up everybody, my name is MC Reality, the sugar daddy of Lagos. Normally I don’t do this, and all of una know say this kind thing, I no dey do am”. Naija Nicki would say “What’s up my people, it's your girl Naija Nicki, you like what you see? If I give you, you no go like chop am? Ah yin ah, Anya”. Besides, content creators operate in clusters, where newbies have the opportunity to be mentored by more experienced creators. As expected, Lagos has the largest cluster of content creators, where the likes of Lasisi Elenu, MC Reality, and Untouchable Comedies operate. Portharcourt cluster has the likes of Sabinus, Romeo_wj, Wonderdtalk_ (Ndubaby), Mr_Lyfe, Freshalbino_1, and Twizzy; and Bayelsa cluster has Rosy TV, Alamnaco, Tumomo aka Nobodybunu, IpallyTalker’s Gabriel the Voice Note Guy, Steven Blinkz, and Edwin Neyo. Others include the Abuja, Enugu, Benin, Asaba, and Calabar clusters. Without a doubt, the proliferation of these digital TV stations has come to stay, given the extremely low barriers to entry. Nigeria’s Facebook population alone has been projected to hit 51.8 million in 2024. We live in an era where content is king. Thus, as long as these digital content stations continue to dish out great content, they will continue to keep regular TV stations on their toes.

Bell Ihua mni, is a Visiting Professor of Practice at Coal City University, Enugu, and Executive Director at Africa Polling Institute. He can be reached on X @Bellemskey or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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