Iroko TV – How this internet business makes millions by bringing African movies to the world
Iroko TV has been aptly been described as the ‘Netflix of Africa’.
Iroko’s co-founder, Jason Njoku, got to realize how popular African movies had become while living in faraway London. Despite the growing worldwide demand for these movies, he could hardly find them on the internet.
His decision to jump on a plane to Nigeria and negotiate distribution deals with local movie producers has earned him a place in history and a lot of dollars in the bag. Today, his IrokoTV platform has more than 5,000 movies online and attracts more than 10 million views every month.
Our estimates put IrokoTV’s monthly revenues at over $350,000.
How did this unassuming guy pull this off?
Let’s find out…
Africa’s movie industry is taking the world by storm…
How does IrokoTV make money NollywoodAfrica’s movie industry is actually really huge. From its heartland in Nollywood (the nickname for Nigeria’s movie industry), over 2,000 movies are released every year.
Compared to Hollywood (USA) and Bollywood (India), Nollywood is the second largest movie industry in the world, in terms of volume of movies released per year.
Unfortunately, Nollywood makes the least money of all three global heavyweights.
Before Jason and his Iroko TV platform, Africa’s movie industry, popularly known as Nollywood, was unstructured, had a poor distribution network and was overrun by content pirates.
Despite a global demand for these movies, they were only available on physical Compact Discs (CDs) which severely limited their reach and viewing quality.
For decades, we all thought only Africans had a thirst and appetite for Nollywood movies. How wrong we were!
In fact, the largest chunk of traffic to Iroko’s platform comes from the USA, UK, India, the Caribbean and ‘down under’ Australia!
According to Jason,
“Nollywood is the world’s second largest movie industry in terms of output, making roughly 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40,000 per project. It is a global, cultural phenomenon, adored by millions in Nigeria, in Africa and across the Diaspora. It serves an audience thirsty for love, drama, intrigue, comedy, redemption, action and more.
The end product is unique: African stories, by African people, for Africans. And boy, do we have a lot of stories to tell…”
How Iroko TV got started…
In 2011, using YouTube, Google’s free video sharing platform, Jason launched NollywoodLove, the first major internet channel to offer full-length Nollywood movies.
In less than a year, the channel attracted more than one million views from over 200 countries around the world. With just a simple idea, a few hundred dollars, and a free internet platform, this young and near-broke Nigerian put original African content on the global map.
Since no one had seriously considered and taken on the internet as a reasonable channel for distribution, it was relatively easy and cheap for Jason to acquire online license rights from producers and marketers to distribute these popular movies.
He actually started with a couple of full-length movies which did very well and paid off handsomely. Knowing he was on to something really big, he bought more movie rights and gradually built an impressive catalogue of in-demand Nollywood movies.
Following this spectacular success with NollywoodLove, Jason attracted nearly $10 million from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based private equity firm which shared his vision for digitization of African content.
With this strong backing, IrokoTV was launched as a standalone and independent African movie-streaming website and attracted more than half a million views in only three months!
In July 2012, the business got an additional investment of $2m under a Swedish hedge fund-backed arrangement.
Within two short years, Jason got the attention of the international press and has been featured on Forbes, CNN, CNBC, BET and Techcrunch.
In 2012, Jason Njoku was voted by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of London’s top black men of power and has gone ahead to launch several other platforms including iRoking.com, a platform focused on providing African music to the world via the internet.
His company now has offices in Lagos, Johannesburg, London and New York.
In May 2013, Jason Njoku and Sabastian Gotter, both co-founders of Iroko TV, founded SPARK, a one million dollar angel investment outfit based in Lagos (Nigeria) and dedicated to funding and helping young tech and internet startups.
The firm has already provided seed capital (between $30 – 75K) to fifteen startup companies. The companies in its portfolio include online fashion and drug stores, an online social-based borrowing service and a photo stock website.
How does Iroko TV make money and how much does it make?
If you’re familiar with our How to make money online article, you would recall that offering things for free is one of the most powerful ways to make a website or blog succeed. And this is exactly what Jason did with Iroko TV.
He started out offering his movies for free. All a viewer had to do was complete a quick registration and Voila, you could watch a full-length African movie. This strategy paid off.
As at May 2013, Iroko TV had more than 500,000 subscribers from nearly everywhere on planet earth. To us, it’s not the size of his subscriber base that’s interesting. It’s how he has successfully converted it into money that’s amazing.
Let’s take a look at how Iroko TV is making money out of traffic to its website, and a thing or two you can learn from it…
The internet has long been lauded as a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas, but not in Tanzania, where it will now cost you $930 to license a blog.
As part of new online regulations, the government will certify all bloggers in the country and charge them an annual fee before they start any operations online. The new provisions also encompass online radio and television streaming services and affect online forums and social media users.
To be authorized as an online content provider, applicants are expected to fill a form detailing the estimated cost of investment, the number of directors and stakeholders in the platform, their share of capital, staff qualifications, expected dates of commencing operations, besides future growth plans.
But even after providing this documentation, authorities still reserve the right to revoke a permit if a site publishes content that “causes annoyance, threatens harm or evil, encourages or incites crimes” or jeopardizes “national security or public health and safety.” Officials could also force managers to remove “prohibited content” within 12 hours or face fines not less than five million shillings ($2,210) or a year in prison.
The sweeping regulation, dubbed the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018, is set to give the government unfettered powers to police the web. When it was first proposed last year, observers and activists argued that some of the law’s definitions and wording were ambiguous, violated individual privacy, curtailed citizen’s right to free speech and expression, and went against the spirit of an open internet. Internet cafés are also expected to install surveillance cameras to record and archive activities inside their business premises.
The annual $930 fee would likely be exorbitant for an independent blogger in a country where the gross national income per capita is just $900.
The passing of the law is a culmination of president John Magufuli’s government’s clampdown on media outlets and social media use in the country. Since coming to power in 2015, Magufuli’s strict and controversial leadership style has earned him critics and the title of “the Bulldozer.” As a populist president, he has banned everything from the export of unprocessed minerals to the registration of foreign ships. He’s also banned pregnant girls from attending school. When citizens criticized him on social media platforms including WhatsApp, they were arraigned in court for insulting the president.
But even as he promised to bring about dramatic economic change, particularly in ending corruption, his administration has tightened its grip on both digital and traditional media spaces. Newspapers have been banned for reporting on misconduct in the mining sector, radio stations closed for broadcasting “seditious” material, and online platforms like Jamii Forums targeted for investigating government corruption.
All this happens even as Tanzania harbors ambitions of boosting its budding tech sector and competing with neighboring countries including Kenya. “The registration requirements and the fees are likely to be a heavy burden for most bloggers and small-sized outlets streaming content in Tanzania, thereby reducing diversity in the media space in the process,” Angela Quintal, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa program director, told Quartz.
Millions of women around the world use contraceptive pills as birth control but there are still unwanted pregnancies out there. To salvage the situation, men would also now have an option to take a drug that prevents pregnancy, thanks to a male contraceptive pill that is being developed towards that regard.
The drug, yet to be named will block sperms from leaving the penis during ejaculation, researchers at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have said. The Melbourne scientists said the drug which increases libido is about to enter what could be the final stage of development. It would work by blocking two proteins that cause sperms to be released, according to the lead researcher Dr Sab Ventura.
“It just stops the contraction of the muscle which would normally be moving sperms along. So the sperms are fine, they haven’t been touched, they’re still completely normal, they just haven’t been moving at the right time,” he was quoted by news.com.au. He said if the final stage of development is successful, trials would then commence and the pill could be on the market within five years.
The development of a male contraceptive pill has over the years been affected by side-effects on fertility, birth defects and libido. But the Melbourne researchers say that early laboratory tests show the drug has no impact on libido and other concerns raised. According to Dr Ventura, he and his colleagues were “moving closer to developing a convenient, safe and effective, non-hormonal oral male contraceptive that can be readily reversed”.
“We aim to do this by developing a combination of two drugs that simultaneously block sperm transport rather than disrupt sperm development or maturation.”
“It’s pretty different. Most of the other ones that have been tried have been affecting hormones or genetics.”
For now, even though the Male Contraceptive Initiative has provided a $US150,000 grant for the scientists to move into the next phase of developing the drug, Dr Ventura said how quick the pill is developed and released would depend on more funding.
“The faster the money comes in, the faster it will happen,” he said.Read More
People in Chad are agitated over a shutdown of social media and messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber and even news site the BBC.
Advocacy groups, including the organization Internet Without Borders (IWB), said as at March 28, users started reporting about a shutdown of those services amidst political tension in the Central African country.
The blackout comes after a two-week national conference recommended some constitutional reforms that could enable the president Idriss Deby to stay in power until 2033 when he will be 81.
The forum, made up of about 800 politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs, was boycotted by the opposition.
Deby, the former rebel leader took power in a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990. He has since survived various rebellions against his rule and has won elections in 1996 and 2001. He removed presidential term limits and won 2006, 2011, and 2016 elections.
The government is yet to give specific reasons for blocking the social media platforms but advocacy groups say it could have been due to the sharing of videos of clashes within the president’s own clan on WhatsApp.
This is not the first time Chad has shut down the internet. It blocked internet use in January when civil society organisations protested against the government and in 2016 following contentious elections.Read More
PORT, a London-based biannual is known as the ‘magazine for men’ but the editors thought to shake things up a bit, so they decided to feature a woman.
And the first woman to be on its cover is Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!
The 22nd issue, which has Chimamanda as its cover star talks about her extraordinary books, the complexity of recent gender movements and her next big project.
Talking about putting a woman on the cover for the first time ever, PORT editor, Dan Crowe said,
We launched as ‘the magazine for men’, and, while we’ve dropped that tagline (as it started to seem quite militant), we initially ran with accomplished men on the cover who we felt were under-considered by our youth-obsessed media. After we had established our brand and made this point, we chose to exercise more freedom.
We had wanted to feature the novelist Chimamanda Adichie for a while, but it took a long time to arrange. We’ll be featuring more woman and a younger guy (now that we’ve bucked the trend) from time to time in the future. But we will always have time for the iconic men associated with classic Port covers.Read More
Publiseer, a Nigerian digital publisher has become the first African publishing company to join the International Publishing Distribution Association (IPDA), an international umbrella organization for companies in the field of publishing distribution.
Some notable companies part of IPDA are Bookwire (Germany), BookRepublic (Italy), Vearsa (Ireland), DeMarque (Canada), Overdrive (USA), Numilog (France), Cyberlibris (France), Hipertexto (Colombia), Netizen (México), PocketBook (Switzerland),Tolino Media (Germany), Books on Demand (Germany), Trajectory (USA), StreetLib (Italy), Libreka (Germany), ArtaTech (Poland), Ingram (USA), Publit (Sweden), Viz Media (Japan), GiantChair (USA), Nextory (Sweden), CB (The Netherlands), and Izneo (France).
As part of its membership, the founders of Publiseer, Chidi and Chika Nwaogu, will be attending the 5th International Digital Distributors Meeting organized by IPDA, that will be held on 6th and 7th June 2018 in Madrid, Spain.
The meeting will focus on issues like, “new business models in the publishing distribution sector”, “worldwide growth of self-publishing”, and “publishing and distribution of hypermedia content”.
Publiseer is a digital publishing company in Nigeria, focused on distributing the books and songs of independent Nigerian writers and musicians, at no charge. The mission of the company is to promote the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world.
As of writing, Publiseer has distributed 350+ books and songs of 200+ Nigerian writers and musicians, to 400+ stores in 100 countries, including Amazon, Google Play store, and Apple store.
Photo Caption: The 3rd International Digital Distributors Meeting Held in Madrid, Spain.Read More
OLX has confirmed its exit from the Nigerian market after Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa broke the news.
CEO of OLX AMEA, Sjoerd Nikkelen says the decision was a difficult but necessary one.
“We made a difficult but important decision in Nigeria to consolidate our operations between some of our offices internationally.”
The buying and selling website moved into Kenya and Nigeria in 2012 but has now decided to shut down operations in the two countries.
Mr. Nikkelen, however, revealed that the company would maintain its marketplace.
“Our marketplace will continue to operate here – uninterrupted – as it has since 2010, and we remain committed to the many people here who use our platform to buy and sell every month. We continue to be focused on constantly innovating to make sure that OLX remains the top classified platform in the country.”
Hundreds of jobs will be affected by the decision with a complete pullout of staff expected to be completed by April.
“Of course, we are committed to helping our affected colleagues during this transition and have already offered them meaningful financial and other support. As we’ve expressed to them directly, we are extremely grateful for their many significant contributions to OLX’s success.Read More
Fela Durotoye, a consulting guru, leadership coach, and public speaker, says he will be running for president, come 2019.
The 46-year-old declared his intentions on Thursday, adding that he has researched all the national parties for a few months and has settled for the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN).
“In line with our Values one of which is to ‘be a role model worthy of emulation’, I had to decide to get involved in the political arena rather than staying on the sidelines and only challenging others to go in,” he said.
“It is my hope that as I step unto the political scene, many more of our brightest and best will arise to heed our nation’s clarion call to contest for elective offices, win the elections, and most importantly collectively deliver good governance to our nation.
He said the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot deliver a new Nigeria.
“Therefore, to be clear, I am aspiring to contest as a Presidential Candidate in the 2019 General Elections. A lot of people have asked me ‘FD, what party will you be running on? Is it APC or PDP?’
“Whilst it is true that these parties may have formidable grassroots structures, I strongly doubt that these old parties with their old ideology (of god-fatherism also known as Selectocracy, Rulership, Money Politricks etc) would be able to deliver to us a New Nigeria.
And so, over the last few months, I have researched into several political parties to determine if their ideologies, vision, and values resonate with those we share together on this Network.
“I am glad to announce that one party has resonated more with me than any other; sharing common ideology, principles, and a truly democratic internal process, that is open for all to aspire.
“The party that provides a level playing field for the best candidate to emerge at all levels of the legislature and executive office. That party, ladies, and gentleman is the alliance for new Nigeria.
“Today 22nd of February, 2018, I formalise my membership with the Alliance for New Nigeria and become a member of this great party. I believe it is safe to have found my political home, and I truly believe this will be the home for all nation builders.”
WHO IS FELA DUROTOYE?
Fela Durotoye is a graduate of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he obtained his bachelor of science degree in computer science with economics, as well as a masters degree in business administration.
He is also an Alumnus of Kennedy School of Government Executive Education program of the prestigious Harvard University, Boston (Massachusetts) as well as attended High impact Leadership for a better society Program at the prestigious Yale University, New Haven (Connecticut) and The Leadership Institute, Arlington (Virginia) all in the United States of America. He is also a certified leadership coach of the John Maxwell Team.
In 2015, Fela completed the Executive Seminar program on Strategy, Innovation, and Governance with specific focus on Sustainability for NGOs and Corporate Organizations at the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS).
Also in 2015, Fela concluded the supernumerary police training program at the Nigerian Police Training School Ikeja and received the Distinguished Student Award at his graduation and passing out parade.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to file a fresh charge against Chimaronke Nnamani, a former governor of Enugu State, who is facing trial over an alleged N5.3 billion fraud.
Nnamani, his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six companies were first arraigned in 2007 for allegedly conspiring to divert about N5.3 billion from the coffers of Enugu dtate.
At least three judges handled the case, which in December 2017 was transferred to Chuka Obiozor, a judge, who fixed December 4, 2017, for the re-arraignment of the defendants.
Following the failure of Nnamani and Anyaogu to appear in court for arraignment on the said date, Obiozor issued a bench warrant of arrest against them.
Consequently, counsel to Nnamani, Rickey Tarfa, SAN, prayed the court to vacate an order discharging the bench warrant issued against his client.
In his ruling on February 19, 2018, the court held that “the request for an order to discharge the bench warrant against the first defendant before me, for now, is hereby refused. This is without prejudice to the renewal of the application at the next adjourned date”.
The court also struck out an application filed by Tarfa, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the EFCC from arresting his client, after he (Tarfa) had asked to withdraw same.
However, at the proceedings on Tuesday, Tarfa informed the court that he had filed a motion disclosing the facts that the case had been put to rest by Yunusa, a judge, in his judgment in suit no FHC/L/09C/07 delivered on July 7, 2015.
Tarfa said there was no valid pending charge before the court in view of the plea bargain entered into by parties before Yunusa, adding that “the court cannot sit on an appeal of his learned brother, Yunusa”.
However, in his response, the prosecution counsel, Kelvin Uzozie, said that he had looked at the affidavits filed by the defendant in the case, adding that “in view of all the averment therein, I am applying that the entire proceedings in this court be expunged to enable us file a fresh charge with a different suit number”.
Consequently, in his ruling, Obiozor held that “there is no valid charge before me. I hereby expunge the entire proceedings before me”.
In a statement on Wednesday, the commission said it would soon file another charge against Nnamai.