iROKOtv came on the scene in 2011 as Nollywood’s big bold savior. In a country where indigenous Nollywood personnel, inclusive of directors, producers, video editors and actors alike, where dying under the unrealistic pressure of making quality movies with no money, ridiculously high piracy and almost guaranteed disloyalty from the audience that demanded better but refused to pay for it, iROKOtv was just the platform that was needed.
Its parent company iROKO Partners was founded by Jason Njoku and Bastian Gotter in December 2010 with headquarters in London. It became one of Africa’s first major online movie streaming websites, granting customers access to a wide range of more than 5000 Nollywood movie titles. iROKO Partners is currently one of Africa’s top entertainment companies, also operating brands like iROKING (their online music platform) and YouTube channel, Nollywoodlove.
Jason Njoku noted the lack of structure in Nollywood as regarding the distribution of movies both locally and internationally, he therefore came back home and purchased the online licenses of the movies from their producers and began streaming for free on Nollywoodlove. The channel soon became widely popular and profitable after such a short time. It was noticed by two hedge funds which over the course of two/three years invested a whooping $25million, making iROKO Partners one of the most well-funded African internet companies.
The company has continued expanding, garnering itself the nickname of “Netflix for Africa” and making life easier for a lot of local content lovers both in the country and in diaspora. When the real Netflix launched across Africa, there were whispers on the future of iROKOtv on the continent and Jason Njoku quickly assured us that there was nothing to fear stating confidently on his official website,
“So Netflix being in Nigeria has zero impact on iROKO and our vision for the future. If it’s Nollywood fanatics, you know those guys can watch 3-5 hours per day, so Irokotv is still the only place they can find most of what they are looking for. Considering we are one of the biggest actual producers of Nollywood, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. In time, we will be able to produce 200 movies a year ourselves, no shaking. And with the evident collapse of the DVDmarket, this only makes us stronger.”
Jason Njoku obviously meant what he wrote as barely 3 weeks after, iROKOtv, the home of Nollywood raised $19 million from the French cable service Canal+ and the Swedish-based media company Kinnevik AB and the internet company has announced its intent to channel the funds into investments in original content and further all round expansion. Their target is to produce at least 300 hours of their own original content in 2016, a target which they expect to double by 2018. The announcement also featured the President of Canal+ Overseas, Jaccques du Puy, joining them on the iROKO board.
Personally looking forward to see the kind of original content that iROKOtv will bring forward, as we watch this 5-year-old company continue to make waves and defy all odds.
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