Hollywood who? Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) makes around 1,000 films a year, placing it above US’s film and below india’s Bollywood. African Business Review speak to Jason Nkoju iROKO an online platform for this burgeoning Nollywood content.
Hi Jason, could you tell us a bit about ourself?
My name’s Jason Njoku, I’m 35 and the co-founder and CEO of iROKO – the home of Nollywood. I launched the company, in a slightly guise, in 2010, when I realized that there was no systematical online distribution for Nollywood content, Africa’s most popular form of entertainment. When I realized that Nollywood had no real, genuine presence online, I jump on a plane from London to Lagos to delve a little bit deeper, and have been here ever since.
Can you also give us a brief overview of iROKO and its operations?
iROKO has offices in Lagos, London and New York. We have a consumer-facing app, iROKOTV. We also have recently launched an app, in conjunction with Canal+ called iROKO+, which is targeted solely at French-speaking Africa. We also have an extensive distribution arm of the company that distributes content to multi-channel network such as Youtube, as well as partnership to supply airlines with Nolywood content. We have two TV channels on Star Times in Africa and we also provide content to broadcasters around the world who are looking to source the best Nigerian movies and TV series. Through ROK Studios, we also co-produce, produce and finance homegrown content, including titles such as Single Ladies and Thy will Be Done.
I understand that iROKO is one of Africa’s leading technology companies. How would you describes Africa’s current technology climate?
It’s channelling, to say the very least. Start-up and operation costs in Nigeria especially are expensive, which prove to be a hindrance for some companies. The sector has been awash by copycat companies who have tried to simply replicate western businesses in Africa. Most that have attempted this have failed. However, we’re seeing a few breakthrough companies really starting to shine – which is encouraging.
Netflix now have an Africa arm. How do you compete with it?
There’re in same market as us, for sure but not necessarily as competition. They operate a total different model to iROKO, and there move into Africa has been interesting one. However, while they cater for a broad audience, irokotv is very much the home of Nollywood – we have an unrivalled catalogue, so for the hardcore Nollywood fans, of which there many millions, irokotv continues to be first choice. Furthermore, we have built our app to cater for predominately African audience – we charge as little as $1.50 a month (we’re download only) making it far easier for our viewers to actually watch content.
You Read More of Jason’s interview with African Business Review Here.