A variety of voices

Nigeria is home to a vast array of media voices, which are deployed by advertisers, depending on their audience-specific needs.

The media in Nigeria reflects the very apparent diversity of its population, very much like many other segments of its society. With over 250 different, and frequently competing ethnic groups, and a size nearly twice that of California, in addition to a population of approximately 150 million, Nigeria is the most densely populated country in Africa. This is a huge market that is served by different kinds of media with the capability of reaching audiences that vary in tastes and aspirations.

Print media

Nigeria’s thriving print media is made up of scores of newspapers of different national and regional hues and the weekly news magazines. Today, Nigeria has more than 50 different newspapers, both tabloid and broadsheet, and greater Lagos alone is home to numerous newspapers and magazines, most privately owned and retaining their editorial independence against the odds.

In spite of the relatively large number of newspapers and magazines, the literacy rate is about 60 percent of the population. The implication is that it is the elitist audiences that are generally being reached by the print market. Those who fall within this segment are based mainly in the big cities like Lagos, the nation’s economic hub, Abuja, the capital, other fairly urbanized centers and the capitals of the 36 states.

medias1Drawing from its anti-colonialist and anti-military antecedents, Nigerian newspapers are fiercely independent, with a majority of them being privately owned. The Guardian, an institution in its own right, is the flagship of the newspaper industry. Although its print circulation hovers below 100,000 copies per day, its online edition gets over 2 million hits per day in readership.

There are other national newspapers like The Punch, Thisday, Vanguard, The Nation, The Sun (tabloid) and National Mirror. Their aspirations towards a nationalist outlook notwithstanding, many of Nigeria’s newspaper tend to cope with Nigeria’s very difficult operational terrain by carving out niches for themselves in different parts of the country. The Sun for example has its clout in the southeast. The Guardian, apart from its national appeal, has a strong niche in the Niger Delta.

Broadcast media

Since the liberalization of the broadcast industry in the early 1990s, television and radio stations have been proliferating in Nigeria, emerging as veritable sources for reaching populations not reached by the print medium. There are both private and state-owned stations. More than 30 privately owned radio stations all over the country provide information, news and sports to people. Radio is the key source of information for many Nigerians not only because it is easily accessible both in the cities and the villages, but also most of the programs are in local languages.

In the 1950s, Nigeria made history as the first African country to host a television station and since then, the country has moved on to have the largest television station network on the continent (the Nigeria Television Authority) which has sub stations across the 36 states, Abuja and scores of smaller towns.

The number of the privately owned television networks has risen and most of these television stations are located in the commercial city of Lagos. With more than ten television stations, Lagos city now has the highest number of television stations in a city in Africa.

With a population projected to reach 25 million by 2025, Lagos, no doubt is the most active advertising market in Nigeria, and the broadcast media has been crucial in driving this through stations like the Africa Independent Television (AIT), Channels, and Silverbird, among others.

Some broadcasters have both TV and radio, such as the Daar Group, which owns both AIT and the influential Ray Power FM, as well as the Silverbird Group, which runs the television arm, as well as Rhythm FM, fall into this category. However, the government-owned stations like NTA, Radio Nigeria, and Voice of Nigeria have more depth in terms of coverage.

New media

Over the years, internet marketing has burgeoned in Nigeria. According to Africa Internet Usage and Population Statistics, internet penetration in Nigeria is now 29% with an estimated 44 million users. As a result, owing to the huge marketing potentials inherent in digital media, the internet is a part of the overall process of marketing with brands reaching out with new media, alongside traditional media.

In the Nigerian landscape, marketers and their clients are becoming aware of the need and underlying effects of online marketing and are positioning to reach a mainly youth based audience, and in the process, redefining and exploring models that traditional media had hitherto not provided.

By Armsfree Onomo Ajanaku
Features writer, The Guardian, Lagos

Nollywood entertains the continent

With over 2,000 movies produced each year, Nigeria’s Nollywood is the second largest movie factory in the world after India’s Bollywood.

If you have never seen a Nollywood production, this may be explained by the business’s radically different business model.

“This is an $800 million per year business, but with an African twist,” explains Professor Uchenna Uzo of Lagos Business School. “Nigeria has only six cinemas, so to reach its audience (and believe me, these are fanatics) the movies are distributed straight in DVD format. At a sales price of $1.50 or a rental fee of pennies, the movies fly off the shelves.”

Or rather from the arms of street hawkers, since this is the prime sales channel. Other sales channels include small street kiosks, gas stations and variety stores.

The movies are viewed in-home or in public spaces such as bars, community centers and on television screens. In fact, the movies cannot be shown on large cinema screens without being re-formatted.

Another popularity factor? The films are made in local languages, such as Hausa or Yoruba. This has also guaranteed export potential, with the most popular series going to neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Benin or Niger.

“No wonder Nigeria has developed a leading industry, which even South Africa cannot emulate,” Professor Uzo concludes. “Their productions tend to be more Hollywood style and less popular.”