Nollywood Movies

Accessing Nollywood Movies Legally and Ethically

Nollywood, Nigeria’s booming film industry, produces thousands of movies each year that have gained popularity across Africa and the diaspora. However, accessing these movies through legal and ethical means can be a challenge, especially for audiences outside Africa. Illegal streaming and downloading sites may be tempting, but they pose risks and detriments that consumers should be aware of. There are safer, more reliable ways to enjoy Nollywood films while still supporting the industry and creators. This article will provide an overview of Nollywood and its global reach, the cons of piracy, and the recommended legal options for viewing Nollywood films. Nollywood Movies

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An Introduction to Nollywood

Nollywood is a nickname for Nigeria’s domestic film industry, which produces around 2,500 movies each year and dominates the African market. Nollywood films are largely shot in English, with some also including Nigerian languages like Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. They are widely popular across Africa and have gained international appeal.

The industry began in the early 1990s as filmmakers started producing low-budget movies on VHS tapes and selling them directly to consumers. This direct-to-video model meant films could be made rapidly and cheaply. By the 2000s, Nollywood grew into a $600 million industry, frequently producing films on shoestring budgets of less than $25,000.

Nollywood films come in diverse genres like comedies, romances, dramas, horror, and action. But they have some common traits, like addressing topics relevant to African audiences. They often incorporate African storytelling techniques like spiritual themes, nonlinear narratives, and earthy humor.

Nollywood has enabled a new generation of African storytellers to share perspectives often underrepresented in global media. The industry provides jobs for over 1 million Nigerians. Nollywood films and movie stars have become cultural icons across Africa. The accessibility and appeal of these films have made Nollywood the world’s second largest film industry by volume after Bollywood.

The Global Reach of Nollywood Films

While Nollywood originated in Nigeria, the industry has expanded worldwide over the last two decades thanks to media globalization. Nollywood films are now watched across Africa, with devoted audiences in markets like Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa.

Nollywood movies have also reached black diaspora communities abroad, finding fans in the Caribbean, UK, and North America. Overseas fans initially accessed films shared informally but now have more structured distribution channels.

With Nigeria’s growing tech sector, Nollywood is harnessing digital platforms to widen its global audience. Netflix and other streaming services license Nollywood films, exposing them to new viewers. YouTube channels like NollyLand and iROKOTv have cultivated international fanbases through legally sharing movies and trailers.

To appeal to diaspora markets, some Nollywood producers collaborate with partners abroad. Films may feature Western actors alongside Nollywood stars or incorporate filming locations outside Africa. However, the core of Nollywood still resides in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial hub that is the industry’s heart.

Bringing Nollywood films to worldwide audiences has been an opportunity and challenge. While inefficient distribution networks initially limited formal exports, piracy and illegal streaming emerged to fill demand. But illicit channels deprive the industry of revenues, stalling its growth. Combating overseas piracy is an ongoing struggle as Nollywood tries to navigate extending its reach globally.

The Downside of Piracy in Nollywood

While many fans internationally first accessed Nollywood films through piracy networks, this has severe downsides for the industry. Pirated DVDs and illegal streaming or downloads divert revenues away from Nollywood producers and distributors.

Nollywood has lost billions in earnings annually from having its intellectual property stolen worldwide. This slows the industry’s profitability and investment in bigger budgets and quality. It hampers the growth potential for what could become a mainstream global cinema market.

Piracy also poses risks for viewers through malware and breaches of privacy. Pirate sites are rarely secure or trustworthy. They may infect devices with viruses or expose personal data. Viewers who access content illegally are more prone to cyberattacks.

There are also ethical concerns with enjoying content that is stolen. Pirating Nollywood films, even if hard to access otherwise, means bypassing appropriate payments to the creators. The talents behind and in front of the camera do not receive their fair compensation when content is disseminated without authorization.

While piracy may seem harmless on an individual level, the widespread impact hurts Nollywood financially and culturally. Fortunately, with Nigeria’s developing digital economy, more licensed platforms are making the country’s popular films available worldwide through legal channels.

Instead of piracy, there are now affordable, low-risk options for enjoying Nollywood films through authorized distributors. Online streaming, rentals, purchases, and free ad-supported platforms expand access to Nollywood legally. Supporting these official channels also aids the industry. Here are some recommendations:

Streaming Services

Mainstream online streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu are licensing more Nollywood films and creating dedicated channels. Streaming services benefit the industry through royalties and global marketing. They also provide better video quality than pirate sites.

Nollywood Specialty Streamers

Dedicated Nollywood streaming platforms have also emerged:

  • iROKOtv: Dubbed the “Netflix of Africa,” iROKOtv has over 5,000 Nollywood films available to stream globally. Subscriptions are affordable, starting under $3 monthly.
  • NollyLand: A YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers, NollyLand shares full Nollywood films legally for free. Its content is licensed from producers.
  • Real Nolly TV: Offering monthly and yearly subscriptions, this platform streams over 3,000 Nollywood movies.

Digital Rentals and Purchases

Leading digital platforms like Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu allow on-demand rentals or purchases of Nollywood movies. Prices are reasonable, often between $2-$5 to own a film permanently.

Official Nollywood Websites

Major Nigerian production companies like EbonyLife Films, FilmOne, and Silverbird now distribute films directly through their websites. Purchasing or renting films here compensates creators most directly.

Free Ad-Supported Streaming

Services like Tubi, Plex, and Kanopy showcase some Nollywood films funded through ads instead of fees. This allows free legal streaming. Public libraries also offer free Nollywood movie catalogs via Kanopy.

Social Media Channels

Production companies and stars engage fans through social media and may share free full-length films, though this is limited. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok connect creators directly with audiences.

TV Broadcasts

Nollywood films sometimes air on international TV channels focused on African entertainment, like The Africa Channel, Afrotainment, and Nollywood TV. Consult local TV listings for potential broadcasts.

Physical Discs

Legitimate specialty retailers sell Nollywood DVDs and Blu-Rays for the diaspora market. HMV, African Movie Store, and NollyStore are examples. Discs offer higher quality than pirated copies.


Accessing Nollywood films legally benefits both viewers and Nigeria’s film industry. While piracy once seemed the only option for international fans, authorized streaming services and stores now cater to global markets. Paying to rent, buy, or subscribe allows you to safely view high-quality films while also fairly compensating Nollywood’s hard-working creators. As digital platforms expand globally, audiences can now enjoy these beloved movies in an ethical manner. Supporting official distributors helps Nollywood continue entertaining its growing fanbase worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of using illegal streaming or download sites for Nollywood movies?

Illegal piracy sites often contain malware, viruses, and security vulnerabilities that can expose your private data. They also promote intellectual property theft that damages Nollywood’s profits and growth. Ethically, they deny compensation to the creators.

Legitimate platforms will be branded services that directly license films from producers. Look for known platforms like Netflix or sites owned by major Nigerian film companies. Quality is typically better than pirated copies.

Are there any completely free options for watching Nollywood movies legally?

A limited selection of Nollywood films stream for free, supported by ads, on platforms like YouTube (NollyLand), Tubi, and Plex. Public libraries also provide free access via Kanopy. While selection is limited, these avoid piracy risks.

How much do Nollywood streaming services or movie purchases usually cost?

Subscription streamers like iROKOtv or Netflix range from $3-$10 monthly for licensed access to hundreds of Nollywood films. Renting or purchasing a single film directly through Google or iTunes is usually $2-$5.

Can I access Nollywood movies if I don’t live in Africa or have an international streaming service?

Yes – many streaming platforms and transactional sites for buying/renting Nollywood movies are accessible worldwide. Platforms like iROKOtv cater specifically to the diaspora market. Services only restricted by geography are usually due to licensing issues, but the range of global options keeps expanding.

Why should I pay for Nollywood films instead of watching them for free through piracy?

It may seem harmless to access pirated copies, but this steals revenue from Nigerian creators and hurts the industry’s growth. Supporting official distributors fairly compensates filmmakers’ work and nurtures the market’s expansion. Streaming legitimately also avoids malware risks from shady pirated sites.

Are there legal ways to watch Nollywood movies for free?

Some legitimate free options exist but have limited libraries: YouTube channels like NollyLand, ad-supported services like Tubi, or public library access through Kanopy. While not completely free, affordable streaming subscriptions or one-time rentals/purchases are low-cost alternatives to piracy.

Where are the best places to buy Nollywood movie downloads or DVDs?

Reputable online retailers to purchase downloads or physical discs include:

  • African Movie Store
  • NollyStore
  • Amazon
  • eBay

Look for sites officially affiliated with Nollywood studios and distributors. Beware unauthorized sellers with pirated copies.

What are the benefits of using a specialized Nollywood streaming service instead of Netflix/Amazon?

Services like iROKOtv and NollyLand have libraries exclusively focused on Nollywood films. This gives you more options compared to the limited selections on mainstream platforms. Niche streamers also reinvest more into the Nigerian film industry.

Can I find Nollywood movies at my local library?

Many libraries now offer free Nollywood movie streaming through the app Kanopy. Libraries with large African communities may also carry Nollywood DVDs. Contact your local branch to check availability.


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