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How COVID-19 has affected film industry

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By Olabisi Aguda

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sector of the economy. Banking, oil and gas, tourism, telecommunication, education, energy, even the film, entertainment and media industries have been directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic.

Prior to this global health challenge, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that cinemas in Nigeria earned over N3 billion in the first half of 2019 and over N1.2 billion in July and August of the same year. Supporting the report by NAN, a report compiled by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) stated that last year alone, “Nigerians spent almost N7 billion (N6,976,882,087) to watch films in the cinemas”.  But with COVID-19, it is uncertain that spending on movie viewing this year will be the same as last year. This is not just in Nigeria alone but globally and this may, in turn, affect the number of television content that is produced this year. This, certainly, will adversely affect the entire chain of film or content distribution.

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Cinema and pay television broadcast operators are the worst hit in the content distribution chain. By observing the physical distancing guideline, cinemas are closed, leaving families with no option but to stay at home. And with limited content in circulation, pay television operators are forced to repeat programmes across their channels.

For example, sports content such as football is huge in Nigeria. But owing to the pandemic, organisers of notable leagues across the globe have had to postpone games until there is a let-up in the COVID-19 infection/transmission rates. The gap, however, is being bridged, notably by SuperSport, the big sports content provider on DStv and GOtv platforms. Late in March, the provider launched the Relive campaign, an exciting sports show created to highlight the greatest stories in sport. Relieve offers football, golf, UFC the opportunity to see epic matches, documentaries, and interviews from the past.

Besides the shortage of content created by COVID-19, a major reason why repeats are necessary is that they give people a chance to catch up on exciting and memorable moments they might have missed. Different channels have different levels of repeats. A kiddies channel may repeat far more shows than a channel for other classes of audience.

Despite the public health challenge, pay television companies like MultiChoice have promoted local content. An example is The Mercy and Ike reality show, which is making waves on social media. And because of the love of the programme, there is a repeat broadcast on Africa Magic Showcase on Mondays and Fridays. While on Africa Magic Urban a repeat broadcast is scheduled on Mondays and Tuesdays for those who missed the Sunday show.

We cannot shy away from the fact that programme repeats are an integral part of the television environment. For those who are not aware, the cost of content acquisition and movie rights is based on a model whereby programmes and movies are purchased for a certain number of screenings.

This allows for the movies or programmes to be shown at different time slots to allow viewers a choice of when they would like to access the programming. It is also vital to understand that repeats in the case of a multi-channel environment allow subscribers not to miss out in instances where two or three interesting programmes are flighted (would ordinary people know the meaning of flighted? You may want to consider a simpler word) at the same time. They also enable subscribers to plan their viewing time more effectively.

But with or without COVID-19, the Show Must Go On! even if its live, recorded or a repeat show. The show still has to go on!

Vanguard

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