iROKO, has secured $19 million from French media giant CANAL+, together with existing investor Kinnevik AB, to give the African tech & entertainment firm the platform to scale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent. By Staff Writer
iROKO will channel the investment into local content financing and production, as well as its product and engineering teams in Lagos and New York.
The company, which is not worried about the arrival of global video-on-demand platform Netflix in Africa, is planning to use the investment to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016, with the expectation of doubling that by 2018.
It added that this will enable it to build on its already extensive catalogue, making it arguably one of the largest libraries of local African content.
“With millions more Africans poised to come online via mobile in the coming years, our mission is to lead viewers to content they’ll love. This is something the vast majority of the continent struggles with today. We hope to bridge that divide, and this additional investment supports such a plan,” Jason Njoku, CEO and co-founder of iROKO says. “ For us, there is no version of reality where the marriage between Africa’s most powerful communication tool [mobile] and the most prolific and loved entertainment provider [Nollywood] won’t be a joyous union.”
Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa are almost at 1 billion and by 2019, it is predicted that smartphone handsets, with which viewers can watch content, will make up 73% of the continent’s devices.
iROKO, the home of Nollywood, has previously raised $25m from international investors, including Tiger Global, Kinnevik and RISE Capital. The technology and entertainment company is a leading Nollywood film, TV, content producer and platform provider and currently has a mobile app for Africa, holds distribution deals with Canal+, BA, Emirates, Nollywood TV and Lebara and has two Linear TV channels on Africa’s Star Times
Njoku explains: “The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.”
Nollywood [Nigerian Hollywood] is the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output, employs ~one million people and constitutes 1.04% of the Nigeria’s GDP.