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The People, they are Changing - Nigeria’s evolving media audience.

Sherriff Tahiru

In 2015, three researchers Tahir Sherriff, Nonso Jideofor, and Olaoluwa Akinloluwa undertook a media audience analysis research funded by PIND Foundation to better understand its audiences, and provide information to aid the design of bespoke media strategies. The process, findings, insights and outcomes of this project serve as the foundations for this piece.


The Media Vs The People

The media is in a flux. As big Social Media platforms take over the online space previously dominated by news agencies, opportunities for understanding or investing in the changing narratives of audience interests and attention are ripening. Where is the audience, and what are they looking at? We explored this complexity through user centered research to better understand what Nigeria’s media audiences were looking at, and how.

A bird’s eye view

Journalism is evolving. News is changing. The era of torrential clicks on red headlines capturing a bombing, a kidnapping, a corruption scandal or a presidential gaffe is on the decline. Nigeria’s media audience is looking elsewhere. Journalists, are killing journalism - while media agencies across Nigeria are responding to their own ideas of newsworthiness, the audience is looking elsewhere.

Image Credit: Tom Saater

In 2015 W45 took a snapshot of the Niger-Delta’s media ecosystem and captured some key findings in a report for the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). Among its findings - a relentless radio and Television audience surviving in the face of the Social Media storm, skewed media measurements more tended to capturing sponsors narratives, diverse incentives for media audience measurements resulting in sparse and often contradictory data and how different media platforms were more popular than other, in several states of the Niger Delta.

This complexity is far reaching. The media audience is rapidly evolving. In America, while every media agency struggled to monopolize millennials attention to live television, in 2016 American news agency BuzzFeed was able to captivate more than 800,000 people at once thanks to some rubber bands and a piece of fruit. The media company used Facebook Live to livestream its employees putting rubber bands around a watermelon with the goal of making it explode, which it ultimately did with an Internet-satisfying burst. There were more than 800,000 live viewers at the time of the explosion, and the video — a simple affair with a melon, a table and two people in lab coats — was watched more than 2.9 million times in total at the time of publication, according to Facebook. It had more than 318,000 comments and more than 8,400 shares by the time BuzzFeed turned off the show.

These changing narratives are as internationally driven as they are locally engineered.

Opportunities for media development

In December 2017, YouTube released its annual Rewind lists. These lists are separated by country and showcase the moments that captured the attention of YouTube users around the globe. The Nigerian section of these list made for some interesting viewing by giving an insight into what Nigerians like to watch on YouTube. Spoiler alert, yes - music and comedy. Of the 10 highest watched videos Mark Angel comedy skits, Nollywood videos and a speech by Biafra secessionist topped the charts. Channels Televisions special cover of Boko Haram was the only major entry by big media. One key take-away is that video is changing everything.

A lot has changed in the last three years, our work was funded to determine specific information from the data we collected and this influenced the method we applied, as well as the scope of our work. But we are moving towards the bigger picture.

Opportunity 1.

Short Video Skits - We are working collaboratively with local script writers, filmmakers and actors to create stimulating mobile videos that address citizens concerns with insights on opportunities to address these concerns.

Opportunity 2.

Cartoons and caricature content. Create visually stimulating content through collaboration with cartoonists, content writers and designers.

Opportunity 3.

Shared Media Resource Hub - Create a human and material resource hub that is geared to support the media with shared resource and opportunities for networking.

Bob Dylans lyrics The times they are A-changin reflected new thoughts birthed by America’s cultural revolution. Today we accept that the times are always changing, but forget, that the people are changing too.

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