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Managing Dope TV Won’t Be Challenging — Sola Fajobi




Sola Fajobi is a seasoned content producer. Over the years, he has produced a range of awing contents including Next Movie Star, Super Mom and several others. In this interview with our reporter, he spoke on his new project, Dope TV.

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You have a new project called Dope TV, what motivated it?


First and foremost, it is important to say that I have been into content creation for a long time, 15 to 16 years. As an organisation, we have been doing it for 13 to 14 years now and we can say that we are one of the most successful content powerhouses in Nigeria.    One of the challenges is that over this time, we have produced content for radio and television, the regular traditional media. In the last five to seven years, things have been changing and a lot of people are moving from traditional media to digital. The truth of the matter is that the move won’t be a total one. The Internet, mobile phones and laptops have been in America for over twenty years, but this has not stopped them from having the mainstream newspaper, television and radio stations. You will agree with me that digital media will not kill traditional media. Digital media is only another touch point, another window for the new generation. Now, if we pride ourselves as a content power house, by doing the much we are doing on television and radio, we need to also find a connecting point to online and mobile audience. And that is what Dope TV is all about. By and large, Dope TV is actually a platform and this is what differentiates it from anything that is in existence in Nigeria. It is like having your DSTV or Star Times, TSTV online, but this time for free. It’s like having your cable network free to you.


Tell us about the channels on Dope TV


Dope TV has 10 channels; it’s like a carrier where you have the movie channel and others. So, we have 10 channels, which we are launching including Dope Studio, which is about movies, series, events and lifestyle content that are already archived.

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When you say archived what do you mean?


Archived contents are contents already shot and kept for viewing online. So, Dope Studio is our own Netflix, our own Iroko TV, but this time, it allows for free viewing. It is free of charge completely. People can come and watch as much series as they like, people can come and watch the several episodes that we have on Dope TV.


What contents do you already have, having launched recently


We have about fourteen different series right now. Each of them has about a hundred episodes. We are talking about not less than 2,000 hours of series. On our movies, we are adding it gradually. You know the way with movies, when you put up existing movies and people have watched the movies there is no much action again. So, we are launching with 50 movies first, and as we progress, new movies will be uploaded.


This is definitely a pleasant idea, but why the name Dope TV?


Your thought process is what determines the name of a new business like this. In terms of this, one of the things we have done is to make it as simple as possible, we have called it what it is. When we started the ‘Next Movie Star’, people said that the name was too long. I told them that we are looking for the next movie star and that is what it is. To the glory of God, it became a success. The name itself helped it. Then we came up with ‘Supermom’ and it was the same thing. Why say anything rather than what is it, we were looking for a mom that was super and so we named it ‘Supermom’. When we created ‘Excite on TV’ we were looking for something that would excite the people and we named it ‘Excite on TV’. So when it comes to choosing names, you think about what you want to do. Asides this, the generation that we are dealing with uses key words that they are used to, you need to connect with them, you need to live in their brain, so we found out that anything that is handsome, anything that is fantastic and anything that is interesting to them is Dope. Since we know that what we are doing is fantastic in terms of people that are identifying with it, we called it Dope TV.

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Ten channels in all, Dope Life and Dope Studio already launched, what are the other channels that we are yet to see?


There is ‘Dope Family’ which is focused on children, home, parenting. We want to give everybody something. There is ‘Dope Interact’ which is divided into two namely; ‘Dope Chat’ so that people can chat either live or privately and there is also ‘Dope Chemistry’, it’s a dating platform. We are going to be revolutionising dating forums because there are going to be private and general forums. There is ‘Dope Music’ which is simply about music, videos and the lifestyle of people that create music. There is going to be ‘Dope Sport’ which is going to be 24 hours sport where you are going to have access to a variety of international sport content. ‘Dope Reality’ will have access to reality shows. We are going to be doing two types of reality shows, which are the typical reality show and celebrity reality shows. We will be looking at the lifestyle of celebrities, are they human? If they are, do they eat? What do they eat? All of that will be in the reality show. ‘Dope Stream’ is our live streaming platform where we are going to stream live programmes. The two other channels we are keeping close to our heart for the main time. We will be unveiling them later.


This is definitely laudable, but it also requires a lot of funding, where is the fund going to come from?


One of the things we have done is to simplify most of these things as much as possible. We know that we are starting a major project. When we started, we asked ourselves if we wanted to start everything at the same time and concluded no. So, what we have done is that we are eating our elephant bit by bit. One good thing is that we have signed a lot of contracts and have some partners, and we are self-funding this project as it is for now. Our hope is for it to be our road to wealth. Because when we said it’s free, people asked why are we saying free, why shouldn’t people pay? For now, it’s going to be free and for live; it’s going to be free for a couple of channels. However, there are two channels that we are going premium with, channels that people are going to pay for. For example, we are going premium with ‘Dope Reality’. You can have access to the generic parts of the reality shows, which is some of those contents, which we have already shown on television or are showing on television. I am talking about reality shows like ‘Supermom’, ‘Next Movie Star’ and others. You can access those, but when it comes to celebrity reality shows, we are going full premium with that. You will have to pay to access that channel. The two other channels, which I didn’t mention are channels which we are going full premium with. Overtimes, over the years, we expect our money stream to come through advertising and subscription based on our premium channels because we figured that 80 per cent of the use of our site will be set free for our users.


Are you not worried that after seeing the contents on television people might be less interested in going digital for it?


Content is the business, which we have to continue to invest in, content does not get sour, content is King. Now, some of the videos that we shot seven or eight years ago are still some of the things that we are putting up on Dope Studio right now. At the same time, we are shooting new things for Dope TV. We just left some location now, and we have commissioned about three different producers to create interesting series for us. All of this is to drag audience to the platform. Our projection is to keep it simple, start local and go global. The uniqueness of Dope TV is that it is free and it is a platform that has multiple television stations. It’s like aggregating forty different online portals together and aggregating 10 television stations together. That is what Dope TV is, so we are aggregating a lot of contents under one platform.  Dope TV itself is not a television station; it is a platform, a carrier of multiple television stations.


One challenge which platforms like this have had in the past is the use of content without permission, what do you have to say about this?


As a key player in that industry, we have suffered some of these things in the past. Now we know the implications. We are not interested in acquiring a movie that is not from the owner. If we are going to buy movies, it is going to be from the owners. Our unique selling point is not about the number of movies we are putting up; it is about the quality of movies we are putting up. So, it is not about having five hundred thousand movies on our portal. We can start with 50 and grow it to a hundred, and continue by adding twenty every month. People will come to the platform and know that they are coming to have a unique experience. We are all about quality.


What is the likelihood that your content might be exhausted and people won’t return to the platform?


Well, if you can exhaust 2,000 hours of content then be my guest, but we are focused on quality and can assure you that we would have added another 2,000 hours before you are done.


Sustainability is important in maintaining a business like this, how sustainable is this?


If you look at all the projects I have worked on, you will realise that they have been running for years and we have not stopped despite challenges. You know the story of ‘The Next Movie Star,’ which has not been sponsored for the last six to seven years. You are aware that it has not stopped. This is not a project that we just started one day; it is a project that we thought out for two years before execution, so we have looked at sustainability. There are key elements; Dope TV does not depend on in house content because we can acquire contents. For a man who runs two or three 24 hours television stations, running these programmes won’t be a challenge. Once you put a system in place, provide the basic resources that are required it’s going to be easy. In the next one year, when anyone uses a search engine and searches for trends, tourism or anything topical about Nigeria Dope TV would be number one to spring up on the search engine. That is where we are going.

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