DIAMOND OR ROCK? See How Telenovelas Can Sweeten Nollywood
The Telenovela obsession is here to stay.
Nigerians; male and female alike, have been showing the ‘tell-tale’ signs that they are hooked to Telenovelas.
They have now joined audiences in other parts of Africa, Asia and Europe in the conscious addiction to exaggerated love stories in soap dramas.
The shows might be stereotypical and highly melodramatic, but they are also highly successful - check the ratings and profit margins.
It is believed that as much as 2 billion people - a third of the world - are glued to their TV sets watching love tangle.
Nigerians who take out time to watch Korean, Latin American and Indian Telenovelas are part of this statistic.
The effects of the addiction to this entertainment format became obvious 3 years ago, after a Pediatrician based in Abuja, Chibuzor Eze threatened to divorce his wife, after she forgot to pick their daughter from school because she was watching Telemundo.
In 2016, a photo shared by a Twitter user, showed a notice by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Ibadan Airport, prohibiting staff and non-staff from watching the Telemundo channel during work hours.
The ‘madness’ has not changed as this love encouraged Multichoice Nigeria to increase the number of TV channels showing Telenovelas.
This made Nollywood filmmaker Uduak Isong to finger Telemundo as one of the challenges facing Nollywood.
"We have major challenges, there’s piracy, there’s poor distribution, and there’s Telemundo," she said.
So, can Nollywood plug into this global phenomenon and turn what seems like a problem to a money-spinning opportunity?
Head branded content of Insight communication, Tolu Ajayi who spoke to Bounce News says it is possible.
Tolu, who was a director on season two of the popular TV series, 'Tinsel', and many other television programs says even with the challenges that may be involved, there are diamonds in the rough.
"Because Telenovelas tell one self contained story that lasts just for a year, and over time has become the most successful TV format in the world; I think Nollywood producers should really look into it.
"If producers can buy the rights legally for a popular Telenovela, find relatable characters for them in Nigeria, and find a local premise.
"The only problem is that there is normally a lot of kissing, I do not know if Nigerians are ready to watch people kissing for long periods", he said.
Apart from charging as much as $100,000 for every episode shown overseas, one important feature of Telenovelas is the music.
"According to reports, the best way to launch an artiste in Latin America is to feature their song on a Telenovela, with compilation CDs from the Telenovelas selling out at music stores.
"Also episodes are recorded only about 20 in advance, so plots can be changed, and characters introduced or killed off depending on public opinion.
"For example, women took to the streets in Venezuela protesting over a plot about a husband who cheated on his wife, and the writer, who was planning for the wife to forgive him in the last episode, got the shock of his life.
"He was threatened by some of the protesters in a grocery store, and he changed the script so that the wife got a divorce," Tolu revealed.
Now would be the best time to start tapping into this new found addiction in a positive way.
In a country that already has a thriving music industry which is gaining global recognition, and a fashion industry that is growing in leaps and bounds, a show that could bring in as much as 36million Naira on each episode would surely be worth trying.
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