Before the coming of Netflix to Africa, Jason Njoku-led Iroko Tv has been championing the course of premium TV content online on the continent.
With big competition coming via the American giant, Iroko Tv seems to be prepared to continue in its giant strides, having just announced a new investment deal worth $19million in content and cash.
In a statement released by Iroko Tv, French media giant CANAL+, together with existing investor Kinnevik AB, are investing in addition to iROKO’s own cash flow to give the leading African tech & entertainment company the platform to scale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent.
iROKO will channel the investment into local content financing and production, as well as its product and engineering teams in Lagos and New York. The ambition is to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016, with the expectation of doubling that by 2018. This will enable the company to build on its already extensive catalogue, making it arguably one of the largest libraries of local African content.
The announcement also sees Jacques du Puy, President of Canal+ Overseas, join the iROKO board.
CEO and Co-founder of iROKO, Jason Njoku says: ‘With millions more Africans poised to come online via mobile in the coming years, our mission is to lead viewers to content they’ll love.This is something the vast majority of the continent struggles with today. We hope to bridge that divide, and this additional investment supports such a plan.
‘For us, there is no version of reality where the marriage between Africa’s most powerful communication tool (mobile) and the most prolific and loved entertainment provider (Nollywood) won’t be a joyous union.’
Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa are almost at 1 billion and by 2019, it is predicted that smartphone handsets, with which viewers can watch content, will make up 73% of the continent’s devices.
Njoku adds: ‘The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.’
iROKO, has previously raised $25m from international investors, including Tiger Global, Kinnevik and RISE Capital. It also holds distribution deals with Canal+, BA, Emirates, Nollywood TV and Lebara and has two Linear TV channels on Africa’s Star Times.