Nollywood-Streaming Startup iROKOtv Raises $19M In Funding

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Nigerian-based video-on-demand and internet TV startup iROKOtv says it has raised $19 million in multiple deals from French media giant CANAL+, together with existing investor Kinnevik AB,  for content development and capital funding.

iROKO said in a statement emailed to AFKInsider on Monday that it will use the money “to scale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent”.

“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,” Jason Njoku, CEO and co-founder of iROKO said.

“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.”

According to Tech Cabal, the fast growing Nigerian startup has raised $40 million in funding since it was founded in 2010.

Njoku said the bulk of the new investment will be used for the financing of local content and production, as well as some product and engineering teams in Lagos and New York.

iROKOtv aims to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016 and  double that in the next two years boosted by the new funds.

Africa video-on-demand (VOD) market has been growing fast in recent years as mobile phone subscriptions boom. This lucrative market has attracted international companies including US-based Netflix that entered the continent this year in a global expansion strategy.

Several startups have sprung up in recent year to stream movies from a growing local film industry in countries like South Africa and Nigeria.

From niche startups offering hyper-local content to deep-pocketed tech giants with pan-African aspirations, the continent’s VOD race is heating up as new players look to tap into a potential audience of 1 billion African consumers.

According to consultancy firm Balancing Act, more than 100 VOD platforms are now staking their claim to the African marketplace, though most so far have focused on single-territory or regional markets.