News / Arts & Entertainment

Nigerian Films Get Boost from UK-based Online Startup

Some Kenyan filmmakers have been inspired by the success of Nigeria's film industry, whose content is available at this shop in Nairobi, July 14, 2006.Some Kenyan filmmakers have been inspired by the success of Nigeria's film industry, whose content is available at this shop in Nairobi, July 14, 2006.
x
Some Kenyan filmmakers have been inspired by the success of Nigeria's film industry, whose content is available at this shop in Nairobi, July 14, 2006.
Some Kenyan filmmakers have been inspired by the success of Nigeria's film industry, whose content is available at this shop in Nairobi, July 14, 2006.
Reuters
Nigerian films don't often make it to Western cinemas, but Nigerians living abroad can now see their favorite “Nollywood” movies thanks to a London-based Internet startup.
 
Jason Njoku, a 31-year-old Londoner of Nigerian descent, got the idea for his company iROKOtv.com when his mother asked him to get her some DVDs of Nigerian movies and he couldn't find any online.
 
“People are definitely desperate for African content, not just in Africa but in the diaspora,” Jessica Hope, iROKOtv's communications officer, said on the sidelines of the AfricaCom telecoms conference in Cape Town.
 
“If you lived in Malaysia, where there are a lot of Nigerians, how do you get hold of a Nollywood DVD? Access has been the issue.”
 
Although popular across Africa, “Nollywood” content had not been aggregated by anyone for an online audience, missing out on a potential market of millions of African emigrants.
 
Nigeria's film industry is one of the world's biggest, churning out some 3,000 movies every year with revenues of an estimated $300-500 million.
 
Three years from its founding, Njoku's iROKOtv.com online video library has 5,000 titles of popular Nollywood titles and gets a million unique hits monthly from 178 countries around the world.
 
Most visits are from the African diaspora, with half them from the United States and United Kingdom. Although 95 percent of the content is free, iROKOtv is now making money from 22,000 subscribers paying $5 for 12 new movies each month, Hope said.
 
iROKOtv has attracted the interest of U.S. venture capitalists who have raised a $13 million kitty for an online platform and content, Hope said.
 
The company expects demand on the continent itself to skyrocket once Africa has more reliable and cheaper broadband.
 
In Western countries, iROKOtv's demand peaks after working hours, but in Nigeria, activity picks up in late morning as workers log on to free Internet at the office, Hope said.
 
“That is the only way they would ever be able to watch or stream,” Hope said.
 
Only 5 percent of traffic is from Nigeria, she added.
 
Internet bottleneck
 
iROKOtv has launched a mobile phone site so fans in Africa with scant Internet access can view free trailers, news and gossip clips on their phones. Nearly half of the traffic to that site is from Nigeria, highlighting the need for iROKOtv's content.
 
Although piracy remains the bane of “Nollywood”, iROKOtv has added DVD sales in cities like Lagos and Johannesburg, banking on higher quality and presentation to draw customers, despite charging higher prices than for pirated materials.
 
It has had to pay as much as $20,000 for an online license for a film although prices can be as little as $1,000 per title.
 
The company has spent $5 million on content and co-funded 60 movies in 2012 to expand its stable and operations, which employ about 80 people.
 
But until Internet connectivity picks up in Africa, iROKOtv will have to be content with five percent subscriber growth every month, Hope said.
 
“If we had 10 percent of Africa logging on to iROKOtv, I would be buying champagne now, the company would look completely different,” she said.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."