In just seven years, the startup has grown into a world-class media platform, with the largest online catalog of Nollywood films and audiences in 178 countries.With this feat, the startup is also becoming one of the largest producers of Nollywood content.
How does a startup substantially help the Nigerian film industry ensure its presence internationally?
How did it all start ? It is in London where at the time he was living with his family, that Jason Njoku, the founder and CEO of the company decides to create a Nollywood film distribution company, in 2010. But why? At the time, Jason realizes that for a large number of Nigerian movie fans residing outside of Nigeria, the only way to watch Nollywood movies was to get DVDs brought back from Nigeria by a family member or to go to unreliable pirate sites with poor quality movies.
Finding an opportunity there, Jason decides to go to Nigeria to meet film producers and see if they would be interested in putting their films online, for a fee. Fearing Jason’s true intentions, it took the local producers time to believe in the potential of such an idea, but eventually they trusted him. Unable to secure the heavy costs of owning an online platform, IROKO TV was born in 2010, however as a YouTube company. It was the very first platform to offer Nollywood content online legally. However in 2011, surfing on an ever-increasing interest, Jason and his team undertook to create www.irokotv.com. How does the company make money ? At the beginning, the company offered a free access model and a subscription system to attract customers.
Today, however, the business relies entirely on a subscription system. Moreover, in 2016, seeing an opportunity to enter into partnerships with the television sector, the company entered into several agreements with television channels, including French-language ones in Africa, to which it offers Nollywood content.
IROKO TV also offers in-flight entertainment programs through partnerships with airline companies. The startup has recently started producing its own licensed content through its production company ROK Studios. It is actually through this approach that the company wants to operate from now on. In fact, until very recently, films broadcast on its platform were bought from producers who did not hesitate to set significant acquisition prices, notes one of the company’s managers.
From now on, nearly 90% of the films broadcast on its platform are produced by its production company, and the company holds all the lifetime rights attached to these contents. This approach is much more profitable because, in addition to the revenues generated by the more than 500,000 subscribers, the company also receives revenues from television channels to which it licenses its content. After launching the operation in 2016, in 2017 the content distribution activity already accounted for 40% of its turnover. What an incredible achievement for a young man who turned his love for movies into a huge company with the ability to create opportunities for an entire industry.