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For Just $4 a Month, Nigerian Movie Streaming Service Sees Huge Profits

At a time when the coronavirus is wreaking havoc on businesses around the world, the film industry in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north is going from strength to strength. The region’s movie machine – dubbed “Kannywood” after its largest city Kano – has become the dominant source of entertainment for West Africa’s 80 million Hausa speakers. Since springing up in 1992 with just seven production companies, the industry has grown to include 502 production outfits and 97 editing studios. It now employs more than 30,000 people, according to the Kano chapter of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria. While Kannywood films have the same themes of love, revenge and betrayal as those churned out by the prolific Nollywood film industry in the predominantly Christian south, the content must adhere to strict Islamic rules.  Northflix, Kannywood’s online streaming platform, has seen its client base soar since authorities imposed lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic in March. The lockdown, which saw cinemas, hotels, bars and other recreational outlets shut down, was a boon for Northflix as Nigerians turned to streaming their favourite movies. That opportunity also came as producers were desperately seeking an alternative market for their films with cinemas and DVD shops shuttered.