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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”