In 1921, Harvard Company School developed its first, one-web page mimeographed circumstance analyze for pupils (perspective right here and base), about the sensible dilemmas confronted by professionals at the Basic Shoe Company. Supposed to prompt course conversations, the circumstance approach has given that been adopted by colleges about the planet as a core component of instructing.

Right now, Harvard, Ivey Small business School in Canada and The Scenario Centre are leaders among the 50 producers and distributors of hundreds of cases, of which millions of copies are offered every year. They are created by a rising amount of establishments, in formats such as online video, describing worries on an ever broader array of concerns, geographies and protagonists.

Underneath is an abstract of a person of Harvard’s most current circumstances, on the African media corporation EbonyLife.


Decision maker: Mosunmola Abudu of EbonyLife Media
Mosunmola Abudu, founder of EbonyLife Media in Nigeria

Just one unusually silent morning in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and main govt of EbonyLife Media and a single of Africa’s most important names in the small business, brought her notebook to perform on the rooftop patio of EbonyLife Place, the company’s flagship way of life and leisure resort.

Launched by Abudu in 2012 with a mission to bring superior-high-quality African stories to the entire world, EbonyLife was the organization guiding several of Nigeria’s most significant movies and television shows. It began with a linear Television channel on the Africa-broad immediate broadcast satellite company DStv. By 2020, it experienced created a lot more than 5,000 several hours of Television articles and Nigeria’s top rated-3 best grossing films.

With a motivation for bigger command over production and pursuing the finish of its relationship with DStv, EbonyLife released EbonyLife ON (EL ON), an on-demand streaming service. Even so, it struggled to grow the amount of EL ON subscribers.

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Abudu started to consider about no matter whether she should really go on battling to grow EL ON. Should really EbonyLife target as an alternative on co-output specials with international media distributors these types of as Netflix, Sony and AMC? Abudu, who experienced been in the media small business for just about 20 decades, needed to make this considerable decision for EbonyLife.

Her curiosity in the media and amusement business emerged from a desire to proper unsafe stereotypes about Africa. Born in London to Nigerian mom and dad, she grew up in the British isles and Nigeria. Drawn to African tales, she desired to tackle the truth that there was so substantially the world did not know about Africa. “I imagine someplace deeply buried in my unconscious was a need to convey to Africa’s story,” she claims.

Rising up in the British isles, she routinely encountered misconceptions about Africa and was surprised by how they persisted when she was an adult. “The identical concerns I was being requested in England [40 years ago],” she suggests, “are the same questions my young children have been currently being requested when they went to university in England.” Issues like, “Do you guys reside in trees?”

In July 2020, subsequent its exit from DStv, EbonyLife publicly introduced EL ON, with strategies to make the platform its most important distribution channel. Even though EbonyLife had by now produced in depth programming, “a good deal of that content was consumed on a everyday basis and experienced a really nominal shelf life”, Abudu describes.

She started to check out the new possibility of co-productions with international partners that would eventually be distributed by means of Nigerian Television channels. She signed a multi-title co-generation deal with Netflix to make several films and Television series. Partnering with this kind of firms lowered the upfront monetary challenges of creation. But it was hard to evaluate the measurement of the worldwide viewers “Nollywood” (Nigeria’s Hollywood) movies gained mainly because of the reluctance of the worldwide platforms to share viewership knowledge. Also, Nollywood producers could not interact specifically with these viewers. As a end result, it was challenging for them to find out who had viewed the articles and what elements of the tales the audience experienced savored, and then use this perception to approach their long term productions.

Past making content material, EbonyLife sought to establish its individual media and entertainment ecosystem. It assisted expand the pipeline of community expertise by means of a creative academy that enabled college students to show up at lessons no cost of cost, funded by the Lagos point out govt. Abudu also believed EbonyLife could develop more by investing extra in its audience’s ordeals. In December 2019 in Lagos, she opened the multi-purpose vacation resort EbonyLife Spot, which provided two dining places, a boutique hotel, five motion picture theatres, meeting rooms and a more substantial multipurpose purpose hall.

A calendar year later on, Abudu was at EbonyLife Place to plan for its relaunch following the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Even so, she confronted other pressing fears. She reflected on her options around how EbonyLife would distribute its material. Was it too early to make judgments about EL ON? What changes need to EbonyLife make to EL ON? Equally, she thought of the alternative: could she realistically construct a sustainable media organization just on intercontinental partnerships with streaming products and services? Was there a scenario in which she could keep EL ON operational when pursuing these intercontinental partnerships? Immediately after two a long time in the industry, pivots were being no for a longer time quick or pain-free. Abudu puzzled which option she should go after. 

The higher than is an tailored abstract of Harvard Business School’s instructing circumstance analyze EbonyLife Media, written by Andy Wu, Feng Zhu, Wale Lawal and Pippa Tubman Armerding

The original 1921 Harvard Business School case study
The first 1921 Harvard Enterprise College scenario research, which launched a teaching method that would distribute all around the globe