YouTube has never been more popular with Nollywood movie producers and marketers keen to upload their content in order to garner the big instant audiences the site can bring.  But in the long run this will only spell disaster for the profitability of the Nollywood industry as a whole. Though it may seem a good idea to gain exposure, fans, and massive clicks, the circulation of free to download films is a guaranteed road to nowhere for the entire Nollywood industry.

At first glance it may seem like an exciting opportunity to garner exposure, unlimited subscribers, and extra cash.  YouTube, that bastion of the modern age of social media, so appealing to content creators and marketers alike, for, if nothing else, the sheer amount of pairs of eyes it manages to expose its content to each and every day.

But while this may all work well if you’re trying to sell a product like vitamin supplements or skin cream, or be an excellent idea if you want to make short vlogs and become a mini superstar overnight, YouTube is not the answer to provide the Nollywood industry with the longevity and serious reputation it so desperately needs to establish, if it is to survive long term.

Making movies is one of the most competitive arenas on the planet, yet we are at a time in our lives where people have never had more appetite or free income available to spend on good quality, well produced content.  Africans all over the globe are spending big bucks accessing content produced, made, and starred in by Nollywood directors, scriptwriters, actors, and actresses and the market looks ripe for heavy future growth.

All this should mean that making a profit should be a cinch and in the short term, that may well be the case.  But while indie producers and cynical marketers may be reaping the short term benefits of the increased audience YouTube can provide, the very profit they are making is contributing to the gradual cheapening of a whole industry, and, if it continues will no doubt eventually sound the death knell of Nollywood itself.

The problem you see comes with perception.  Give something away for free long enough to enough people and you undervalue that thing so much so that in the end no one will pay for it.  Advertising can bring in revenue but in an industry such as the entertainment business, quality of content is king.  In people’s minds, and proven by market research time and time again is the simple fact, people expect to pay for quality.  And why shouldn’t they?

A great Nollywood movie takes time, effort and resources to script, star and produce in and requires considerable technical and acting talent, not to mention excellent direction and experienced production values.  All this skill costs money, but if free-to-download content becomes the norm for the industry then not only will wages available drop but also the quality of talent proportionately.

If we devalue their skillset, if we don’t pay our great Nollywood directors, actors and actresses what they are worth because we have cheapened the value of the content they make to the point that the money is just not there anymore, then our best talent will leave Nollywood in droves, taking their skills elsewhere where they can be adequately compensated.

What we should be doing is not cheapening and devaluing the industry but protecting it from the pirates and the vicious marketers, paying actors and directors what they are worth and treating content as if it really is king.   If we do this we’ll ensure growth of revenue in what should by all accounts be a healthy and thriving industry for decades to come.