Nollywood movies downloads and streaming are the new normal and top on the activity of African film lovers all over the world during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. As the preference for digital movie contents continues to grow worldwide due to cinemas being under lock and key, this rising demand has presented new ways for movie watchers to consume such contents.
Hence, movie buffs are relying more on mobile applications and streaming devices as they adapt to the new lifestyles in seclusions.
Known in technical terms as Over-The-Top (OTT) media services, these streaming services are offered directly to viewers via the internet as it bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms. It is also referred to as subscription-based Video-On-Demand (SVoDs) services that provide film and TV contents such as original contents and existing ones acquired from other producers.
OTT services are usually accessed via websites, on personal computers and via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), digital media players (such as video game consoles), or TVs with integrated Smart TV platforms.
While some of Africa’s OTT service providers offer free services for their premium movie contents as long as you keep to their terms, others require a token for their services.
This article will look at 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming in the order of which platform has better features, affordable cost of subscriptions, better interface/user experiences, ease of navigation, fast rendering, customer services, etc. Having used them personally, I will share some of their product advantages as well as their limitations. After which, I will leave you to make your choices with regards to preferences. However, feel free to add your remarks and observations about the topic in the comments section.
So, if you are a lover of African movies (especially Nollywood), as the entire world gradually eases the lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, here are 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming:
1. Iroko TV App
IROKOtv app is number 1 on our 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming. This platform stays on top of this list because it has over the years been in the forefront of curating African films and has the largest catalogue of Nollywood films in the entire world. And no one can beat that, not even global giants – Netflix. This is so because the decade-old IROKOtv have been buying local film contents and rights of African (especially Nigerian) movies in DVDs and streaming them on Youtube before setting up in 2010/2011, which is much longer before other major players started to consider coming into the fray.
Also, IROKOtv’s film library grew in leaps and bounds as regards quality creatives when it went into the production of its own original contents and also partnered with other production and distribution companies to create contents that it showed on its channels and on its streaming platform.
Another reason why IROKOtv app is number 1 is that its subscription cost is the most affordable compared with global contemporaries such as Netflix and other local streaming platforms.
While speaking with Wipo Magazine on IROKOtv’s content sourcing in 2017, the company’s Legal Counsel and Head of Content Acquisition Tope Lucas explained thus: “We recently started producing our own content. It has been challenging but super-successful. Over the past year, ROK Studios, the company’s creative arm, has produced or commissioned 90 per cent of the content featured on iROKOtv.com. We own the rights to that content.
“We also have iROKO Global, which was originally established to handle distribution of third-party content licensed by iROKOtv from various content producers, but these days iROKO Global is concentrating on the distribution of our own content. We were paying premium rates for licensed content and it just wasn’t financially sustainable. We realized we could actually produce better content ourselves,” she added.
It is also pertinent to note that IROKOtv’s top-three countries where its contents are streamed are the U.S.A, Nigeria and the U.K, and are accessible to anyone online all over the globe.
IROKOtv App Advantages
i. As stated earlier, the IROKOtv app (web and mobile) is the home of Nollywood movies, some of which you never even knew existed and some you can hardly find on any other platform. Accordingly, the platform boasts of over 10,000 hours of premium content.
ii. As regards subscription costs, IROKOtv stands tall amongst its contemporaries. With a token of N5,000 (five thousand naira), subscribers have unlimited access to all of IROKOtv’s contents for a whole year including premium African movies, documentaries, etc.
iii. IROKOtv’s platform navigation is also fluid and easy to access.
iv. One special feature IROKOtv surprisingly has is categories for actors where their movies and biographies are displayed. This enables you to find contents related with specific actors in mind in case you cannot recall the title of a movie, you can search with this feature. And this section is well-populated with top Nollywood actors.
v. Subscribers can even get personalized shout-outs from your favourite actor for a fee.
vi. With the IROKOtv app, you can download, save for later and play offline. There is also the save-data option when downloading, which spells the fact that it was built putting into consideration, Africa’s access to data challenges.
vii. Users of the mobile app can share downloaded videos with other users on their phone’s IROKOtv app.
viii. As for film categories, IROKOtv has some top quality flicks for kids (animated contents). Its categories also have Bollywood, Korean, Turkish and Telenovela movies in the global segment. In the main segment, it has Top Yoruba Movies, The New Guard: Rising Stars of Nollywood, Crème De La Crème: Top Shelf Movies, Viewer’s Choice, Epic Movies and lots more. The TV shows segment is also well-populated with premium contents such as Jenifa’s Diary, My Neighbours’ Wives, Ojukwu, Poisoned Bait, 5 Brides, Somto, Blood Lines, etc.
ix. The IROKOtv platform is available for web, Android and iOS.
IROKOtv Platform Limitations
i. Global streaming giants Netflix and some other local platforms are on the trail of IROKOtv as they look to surpass it in terms of owning the rights to more Nollywood contents which is the major competitive edge it has. As for other features such as adaptive user interface, international contents, rich categories, etc, IROKOtv is behind its contemporaries.
ii. Downloaded movie contents expire after 30 days on the IROKOtv app. Users can download again after expiration.
iii. The categories are not as well laid out as you will find in their global counterparts.
iv. The user interface still needs loads of upgrades. For instance, when you select a movie to play, it sometimes opens the previously-watched movie.
v. The user frame (screen) of each movie is not adaptive to fit different sizes of screens but is preset as one-size-fits-all. For those who have a wider screen or are quite fond of full-screen views, this feature is not fully enabled on the IROKOtv app.
vi. In-app ads such as shout-outs from movie celebrities sometimes pop up at the start of a film.
vii. The IROKOtv platform suffers glitches from time to time and freezes too regularly when selecting movies to watch.
viii. The mobile platform has a low volume. You might need to use enhancements such as headphone and sound amplifiers to hear the sound clearly.
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Netflix is number 2 on our 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming. This platform, however, is world’s number 1 streaming software that allows you to instantly watch contents from any internet-connected device that offers the Netflix app, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, media players for streaming.
With Netflix’s move to set up a base in Nigeria, it expressed readiness that it is keen on taking Africa’s number 1 spot for film contents in the next one or two years. Although IROKOtv has its peculiarity, Netflix is already hot on its heels.
Even IROKOtv’s Founder and CEO, Jason Njoku cannot but laud the Netflix platform and feats as he writes about it in a blog post:
“I use Netflix pretty much every week. My wife uses it pretty much every week. I have been a subscriber since 2012 and have never churned out. It’s amazing. I have blogged and generally been smitten by the company and their internet style market share grab. Where possible, I even try to emulate it. But Netflix isn’t IROKOtv. IROKOtv is IROKOtv.”
Netflix’s extensive library of its originals, feature films, TV shows, documentaries and more, set it many classes apart from any of its contemporaries, especially from the international standpoint.
The flexibility of Netflix is unquestionable. “There are no pesky contracts and no commitments. You can easily cancel your account online in two clicks,” a statement on the platform says.
The Netflix platform has over 159 million subscribers worldwide, that means more eyes on its user interface. In 2019, Netflix spent a whopping $15.3 billion to produce more originals and improve its offerings as new global competition (Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, etc) continues breathing down its neck.
Netflix Platform Advantages
i. Netflix charges no subscription cancellation fees, which means that you can start or stop a subscription on your account anytime.
ii. Most people who use Netflix platform do so because of the variety of movies genres they offer. This is why it houses 159 million subscribers – a feat that no other platform can boast of globally.
iii. Netflix allows for downloads as subscribers can keep the movies as long they want.
iv. A lot of users opine that the platform has very competitive prices even for the quality of premium movies they can access.
v. As vast as the company and its product offerings are, its customer service is top-notch compared to others.
Netflix Platform Limitations
i. A plethora of complaints have come from Netflix users that it has lax security measures as many accounts get hacked from time to time. For a streaming platform as big as Netflix that stores subscribers’ credit card information and banking details to be questionable in this regard is a big lapse on their part.
ii. Netflix users have complained of account hacks occurring too often also resulting from security challenges.
ii. There have been many grievances regarding illegal deductions card from credit cards and accounts. There have also been cases of duplication of monthly subscription and continuous debits over long periods of time despite subscription cancellation – a claim that has made many to label Netflix as fraudulent.
iii. One would expect an A-Z list for each genre or better still for all movies which is a great way to search categories and contents, but global number one Netflix fell short of that.
iv. Although it boasts of excellent customer service, Netflix continues to pay less attention to customer complaints. One of such is the allegation of cut scenes from top movies on the platform.
Number 3 on our 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming, is Showmax – an internet-based subscription video-on-demand service that gives you access to thousands of movies, series, live sports, kids’ shows and documentaries on-demand. Showmax delivers specialised local content and world-class international contents by leveraging relationships with major production studios from across the globe. The platform is available on a wide range of devices such as smartphones, smart TVs, computers and tablets.
Showmax Product Offerings/Advantages
i. As regards Nollywood contents, Showmax has quite a huge library to see many top quality movies due to its access to TV shows, series and movies from the Multichoice Company and its DSTV Channels. Due to its deal with Multichoice Africa, DStv Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all Showmax contents for free, while subscribers on the DStv Compact and Compact Plus can get same for a fee.
ii. Subscribers are allowed to download movies on their devices to view offline.
iii. For South African subscribers, Showmax is the only streaming service showing Hulu Originals,. The Handmaid’s Tale, Harlots, Casual and Difficult People.
Showmax Platform Limitations
i. Showmax’s 14-day free trial period has been questioned by many subscribers as there have been complaints of being charged before the trial period ends. Also, compared to a 30 day trial period offered by its major competition in South Africa – Netflix, Showmax’s offering falls far short.
ii. The cost of subscription compared to IROKOtv and Netflix are quite pricey. Monthly Mobile-Only subscription costs N1450, while Standard is for N2900.
4. Airtel TV
Airtel TV is relatively the newest to join the fray of OTTs. The platform stands in the 4th place on our 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming and streaming but this platform is seriously pulling strings in high places to include some Nollywood industry favourites and international TV shows that are not found on the other platforms mentioned here. I was amazed, however; to see Hollywood’s recently concluded Power Series (Season 1 – 5) on its playlists.
Airtel TV Product Offerings/Advantages
1. Airtel TV is already joining the big leagues in terms of quality contents and great navigation features. Its product offerings are growing by the day and the platform is already a force to reckon with in these regards. Amongst its popular contents are; Nollywood’s 93 Days, Kpali, My Wife & I, Hollywood’s Akeelah and the Bee, Power Series, Bollywood’s Deewangee, Laali, and Nikolodeon’s animated movie, Avatar. Kiddies’ delights also include Zool Babies, Rubi and Ben Rat.
2. One major edge the Airtel TV platform has over its contemporaries is its Live TV segment which houses a flurry of entries such as BBC World News, Trace Urban, WAP TV, Irawo, Trace Gospel, Nolly Africa, Film Box, Wazobia TV and a host of 55 other TV stations.
3. Apart from Nollywood blockbuster movies, there are tons of popular Yoruba films, Bollywood movies, documentaries, music videos, Hollywood shows, Kiddies animated movies
4. Another advantage of using the Airtel TV app is that it is currently available on Android and iOS.
Airtel TV Platform Limitations
i. Although it says that its services is ‘Live Free, No Subscription,’ the Airtel TV platform is (so far) built around encouraging its users to subscribe for its data which is seen though as an advantage in many quarters. This caveat means that unless you use Airtel network (sim and data), you can only browse through its contents but cannot watch any movie on the platform. So, whenever a user does otherwise as stated above, a bold statement pops up saying; “switch to Airtel Data Network. Airtel TV is available only on Airtel data network; contact us if you think we are mistaken.”
ii. Secondly, the kids’ section is not so populated (especially) with educating flicks for the little ones. While most platforms (mentioned here) have new, exclusive and premium contents for kids, most of the contents found on the Airtel TV Family and Kids segment (though entertaining) are not as fresh, educating as new as the others.
iii. One major drawback of using the Airtel TV platform is that it doesn’t allow for downloads. This means that subscribers must stream its contents every time they watch a video, and this could be a major setback for this new promising platform as Africa is still grappling with smooth mobile network operations and data challenges.
iv. The Airtel TV platform is still a work in progress is some sections. An example is the ‘Rentals’ segment which subscribers are supposed to rent a top-grossing Nollywood movie and watch for a period of 72 hours using the subscriber’s phone credit. This segment hasn’t worked since it was introduced as a certain error message pops up each time a subscriber tries to rent a movie.
5. Ebonylife TV App
This proudly – Nigerian streaming platform takes the 5th place on our 5 Best Apps for Nollywood Movies Downloads and Streaming. EbonyLife platform made this list owing to its huge strides on EbonyLife TV. The platform is a Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service which allows you to watch all your favourite African movies, series, documentaries, and TV shows anytime on mobile applications and the web; ebonylifeon.com.
The EbonyLife ON app gives you access to premium Africa TV shows and movies.
With the EbonyLife ON app, you can subscribe to premium Africa TV shows and movies and choose between two affordable plans: N500 for the monthly plan and N4,800 for a yearly plan.
While on the EbonyLife On app, users can browse through a rich selection of thousands of titles, new episodes and movies.
EbonyLife ON App Advantages
i. One main comparative advantage the EbonyLife ON app has over its counterparts is its top quality movies which are exclusive to the platform.
ii. With its collaborations with Startimes, DSTV and even Netflix, EbonyLife platform has grown its offerings into nothing but the best in terms of making quality film productions.
EbonyLife ON App Limitations
i. There been lots of grievances from subscribers of glitches and navigation issues on the app.
ii. Complaints of payments challenges and unwarranted deductions have also become commonplace.
iii. The EbonyLife ON app keeps having new challenges whenever it is updated.
iv. Customer Care and feedback from service providers are very poor.
v. Watching a movie on the EbonyLife ON app can be very discouraging as it crashes from time to time.
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Writer – Film Critique – Entrepreneur – Gospel Musician