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

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”