From Viral Videos to Big Money: How Nigerian Sketch Makers Make Money – A Conversation with Olufemi Oguntamu

This article originally appeared on TechCabal.

Making sketches is almost Synonym for comedy in Nigeria today. What started as a niche industry is now the third largest entertainment industry in the country, valued at about ₦50 billion ($34 million). Initially, the process of creating this content was simple, requiring only a mobile phone, editing skills and an internet connection. Now that the industry is growing and becoming more global, the process of creating sketches has become more complex; it requires larger teams, more money to execute and a more strategic plan.

Olufemi Oguntamu, CEO of Penzaarville Africa, has been working in the Nigerian creative space for over six years. His company, a talent management and media agency, is responsible for some of the country's biggest content creators and sketch makers, including Broda Shaggi, Kie Kie and Mr Macaroni.

According to Oguntamu, structure is a very important part of creating, and the production of some of the ten-minute skits we see on social media is often as elaborate as a film production, with large teams responsible for executing it.

According to a report published by Selar, which surveyed 2,000 digital creatives, 29.3% of creatives start hiring immediately after entering the business, while the majority of the sample studied, 37.6%, hired staff after six months. Due to the nature of their work, which requires constant production of high-quality content, many creatives often need to hire staff to work with them to meet this demand. While production needs and costs vary from creative to creative, it's almost impossible to do the work alone, no matter how small the project.

“We have videographers, supporting actors, scriptwriters, production managers and assistants, makeup and costume designers, lighting technicians and sometimes even a director,” he said. “Sometimes, for the more well-known creators, like Brodda Shaggi We also hire security guards for Layi as outdoor filming in Lagos can attract a lot of unwanted attention.”

Talent is often hired on a project basis, but some stay longer than others, such as production managers who handle everything from coordinating with other talent to scheduling and managing the creator's time. The permanent employees are paid a salary, while other talent, such as videographers and makeup artists, are paid on a project basis. Even after filming, the post-production team takes over; from the editors to the special effects people to those who specialize in color correction. These people are hired to handle the post-production of these videos and digital products before they are ready for release.

Many creatives have different reasons for hiring, but the most obvious seems to be that they don't have enough time to handle all the tasks associated with the job. Selar's report confirms this:

“Of all the creatives who had people work for them, three-fifths considered hiring a team because they didn’t have enough time.”

On average, it takes about a week to produce and publish a sketch, and the cost can vary on average from 800,000 to 1 million naira per sketch, according to Oguntamu.

The effort put into these skits brings a lot of material rewards. These skits attract millions of viewers and generate engagement on their social media pages. In 2023, Mark Angel received over 197 million views on his Instagram account, which currently has about 3.15 million followers. Newcomer Layi Wasabi had the second highest engagement with 133.2 million views and 1.6 million followers, while Sabinus had a total of 130 million views.

These numbers translate not only into statistics but also into real money as these creators or sketch makers charge a lot of money for advertising. Sketch makers can charge up to ₦3 million to ₦5 million for sponsored posts on Instagram, according to Oguntamu. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube offer direct monetization options where they pay creators directly for their content.

“YouTube is a big market. Aside from monetization, it also opens up a bigger audience, even outside Africa. It's interesting to note that creators who have a large audience outside Africa in countries like Asia, Europe and the Americas earn more than those whose audience is mostly here in Africa.”

Oguntamu adds that it is important for creators to find their niche and build a brand so that when the proverbial stream of advertorial revenue dries up, they can secure brand ambassadorships and partnerships so they can maximize their monetization opportunities.

Beyond monetization across platforms, creatives have numerous options available to them: advertising contracts, brand collaborations and even personal appearances.