Now Showing: The Nigerian cinema app that won $50,000 from Facebook

Now Showing: The Nigerian cinema app that won $50,000 from Facebook

It was 4:30pm on a Thursday evening, Joseph had just finished a meeting with his clients in their Marina office, when he realized he had enough time to kill. “Why not go watch a movie?” a thought popped up in his head. Deciding to go see a movie, he brought his phone to see what

It was 4:30pm on a Thursday evening, Joseph had just finished a meeting with his clients in their Marina office, when he realized he had enough time to kill. “Why not go watch a movie?” a thought popped up in his head.

Deciding to go see a movie, he brought his phone to see what was showing in cinemas around him. That was when his troubles began. Being in Marina, he had three options around him to choose from; Silverbird Galleria, Leisure Mall, and Muson center. However, to know what was showing in each cinema and the one he could meet up with, he had to pop up three different windows on his phone browse; so much trouble. As if that was not enough, cinemas’ websites were too cluttered with many irrelevant and confusing information on movie times, making it a mental stress for people to figure out what was showing at the moment and what was not. “There has to be a way around this,” he thought.

That was all Joseph Iruafemi needed to create, a web and mobile platform that provides very simple and easy-to-understand information on movie times in cinemas within Lagos.

Joseph Iruafemi, Founder, NowShowing

Joseph Iruafemi, Founder, Now Showing

Joseph Iruafemi is the Lead developer at Websphere, a boutique technology solution company that does web and mobile application development. Now Showing is Joseph’s attempt at solving a personal problem which he soon realized was the cause of headache for many.

“I was thinking I was solving a problem for myself then I went to the Cinema and realize that there is a reality, people actually gone to the without a plan of what they want to see, they go and disturb the counter guy on “what’s showing now”. And I felt like this guy doesn’t have to be saying what’s showing to like a thousand customers in a day and I said there has to be an app that can do this; I went ahead to build the app and it has been fantastic since then.”

That wasn’t the first time Joseph Iruafemi would take on a personal challenge only to end up solving a more ubiquitous problem. In 2010, thinking he was solving a personal problem, he built a job site, because he had problems filtering appropriate jobs for his sister who studied Microbiology.

“I built CVjobsearch back then because I was searching for jobs online for my sister. My sister read microbiology and the other job boards will send her job alerts for engineering or accounting. You would read through a job ad only to get to the bottom to find it had expired. So I built in 2010. The site was so effective that Jobberman contacted me with a proposal to buy, I declined.”

Five years after CvJobsearch, joseph went live with Now Showing in November (web version), and December of 2015 (App version). One year later, the app also won $50,000 credit in Facebook services at the FbStart challenge in October, 2016.

Joseph’s mission with Nowshowing is simple; simplify movie-time contents for movie goers. At a time when too much of information makes it difficult to know what to watch and when to watch it, what is showing in cinemas and if it is worth your time, having a list of carefully curated content that breaks through all the noise and commotion on cinemas sites will surely help cinema goers immensely. Nowshowing does this effectively by infusing a review option on its web version.


A first time land on the page gives the user a quick sense of how the platform works. Boldly written as a header is the word “Now Showing”, instantly telling the user that the underlisted movies are showing at the various listed cinema at that moment. Also, included is a timer showing how far gone into a movie a cinema is. Other than this are the ‘next’ (shows the movies that follows immediately after the one showing), ‘Today’ (for all movies showing at cinemas that day), and ‘Tomorrow’, an afterthought feature that was added later for those that might want to know what cinemas will be showing the following day.

“It was our interaction with one of the cinemas that we built the Tomorrow feature in the app. So far so good we found out that people still use the Today feature more; showing that the cinema-going behavior out there is that people don’t plan 48hrs ahead to go to the movies.”

According to Joseph, the app has been able to tap into this cinema-going culture of Nigerians, by simply providing users with what they need when they need it. With no addition of unnecessary information.

“Also people don’t plan 3-4 days before going to see a movie. They wake up in the morning, and are like “today is a free day, I am going to the cinema.” So, you showing such people a Mon-Fri movie time is giving them information they don’t need. The simplicity in which the time of the movies are provided on Nowshowing knocks out all the noise on other movies websites considering that it interface is simpler. and it is lighter, therefore consuming less data.”

In fact it consumes no data at all for Airtel subscribers, who can access it via Facebook Freebasics.

Now Showing The Nigerian Cinema

A 40% returning visitors (web version) and a 4.6 rating on Playstore for a platform that has not spent a dime on marketing, it is quite easy to conclude that platform does solve a problem many identify with. None the less, Joseph and the Websphere team wants to solve one more problem; ticket purchase. According to him, in a matter of weeks, cinema goers will be able to purchase tickets for movies online through Nowshowing. However, they will need the cinemas to be on board to operate on a full-scale, and although this has been a tad difficult, they remain unperturbed.

“We approached a couple of cinemas but I think they have a different perspective to what is happening in their space. One which I think is outdated…By the time we get the right integration with the right partnership with the cinema, I’m sure we will be able to knock things off.”

One wonders what could be stopping cinemas from latching unto this platform that will not only ensure better user experience for their intending visitors. While cinemas might be missing on this major opportunity, Websphere has thrown the door open to other interested third-parties that might want to integrate Now Showing’s content on their website.

“Seeing that other people may also want to do this but they don’t have the resource or the time or the capacity, we made sure contents on the site are available to other people without them lifting a finger. We have a Javascript code that they can take and with it they can easily show our content about movies show time on their website. All they have to do is ask us what the code is we give them the code.”

This is a solution where everyone benefits. Now Showing gets to get in more people’s face at no cost while the other party gets its contents on its site. Two websites; Sodasandpopcorn, and Farabaleweekly already benefits from this.

As for independent cinema goers, Now Showing mobile app is available for android phones and can be downloaded via Playstore

Oladipo Oladepo

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