When you google Alex Okosi, some of the headlines that pop up include “The Man Who Brought MTV To Africa” and “King Of The Last Frontier”. Both titles are well earned. From the moment Alex set foot in MTV Networks in New York as an intern, the then fresh Economics graduate knew he wanted to take the TV station to Africa. And that he did, less than a decade later.
3 days ago when news got out that YouTube has hired the Onitsha-born media exec to lead its operation in the EMEAs, it didn’t exactly come as a surprise to anyone because the truth is, there aren’t that many people as qualified as Alex to take on this role. And here is why.
When Alex quit his M.B.A. to come set up MTV Base in Africa at the behest of his bosses, the continent didn’t really much going on for it in the way of music videos. The ones available didn’t meet the standard required by the iconic music network. What Alex did after that was beyond revolutionary. He set up a talent factory that trained producers, directors and artists on the art of making music videos that meet global standards.
In the 15 years since ViacomCBS set up shop in Africa under Alex’s leadership, the company has built what is unarguably the most successful media business in the continent with content that is consumed by over 100 million people across the continent on MTV Base, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and all other Viacom channels.
In 2017, when he took the reins at BET International overseeing operations of the network in all markets outside the USA, Alex championed and convinced the network to incorporate the “Best International Act” award into the live broadcast at the BET Awards. Prior to then, the award wasn’t even presented to the winners on the main stage.
From 1998 to 2019, Alex’s Viacom journey has seen him work in various capacities and in almost every continent in the world, garnering years of quality experience that would effortlessly dwarf that of any other potential candidate YouTube may have been considering to manage its emerging markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Alex gets it, he knows his onions. It is how he built the ViacomCBS business in Africa from the ground to what it is today.
There is an untapped market for video streaming services in Africa and in the rest of the regions Alex will now be overseeing, YouTube recognises this hence the company’s recent efforts to establish itself in those markets. Recently, it partnered with Nigerian singer and entrepreneur, Mr Eazi via his initiative emPawa to help young artistes showcase their talent to the world using YouTube. With the rise of its rivals, Netflix and Amazon Prime among others, it’s even more important now than ever that the Google-owned streaming service bites into these emerging markets and takes the lion’s share before its competition gets here. Alex has his job cut out for him.
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