iROKOtv, the online streaming service for Nigerian-made movies has just closed another round of funding in which it secured $8 million (R82 million) from big name venture capital funds like US-based Tiger Global.
iROKOtv now has over $21 million in funding and has plans to use it change the business model from a largely ad-supported service to a subscription-based one. In other words, iROKOtv is rapidly becoming the ‘Netflix for Nollywood’. In July last year it launched iROKOtv PLUS a subscription service that gives subscribers first access to 12 new movies uploaded onto the site every month for $5 (R50). The company is panning on using the latest round of funding to grow traffic to the site, invest in better content curation and build “a platform-agnostic distribution system” which is important in Africa where many people count a mobile phone as their only access to the internet.
What started out three years ago as a content aggregator for Nigerian-produced films on YouTube, iROKOtv now boasts an audience of over a million unique visitors a month with 50% of those coming from the UK and US. Its streaming services are available in 178 countries around the world and CEO and co-founder Jason Njoku says that the new round of funding will allow them to “further fuel our expansion and help us to realize our long term goal of becoming one of Africa’s pre-eminent media companies.”
There are more than 300 studios producing full length features in Nigeria, turning out somewhere in the region of 2 000 films a year – thus earning the industry the slang title of ‘Nollywood’, after the equally prolific ‘Bollywood’ in Bombay.
iROKO Partners, the holding company for iROKOtv, estimates that the Nigerian film industry generates around $800 million a year in revenue and is the second largest industry in the world after India’s Bollywood in terms of number of films produced annually.
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