Having conquered the African VOD market and grown into the world’s largest online distrib of African content, iRoko announces its latest venture Nov. 5 with the launch of its global content distribution and licensing division, iRoko Global.
The London-based iRoko Global team will partner with media outlets across the world to license the company’s extensive library of films and TV series from Nigeria’s popular Nollywood industry, offering 1,500 titles and 3,000 hours of programming.
The move follows on the heels of iRoko’s successful move into linear TV, with the debut of two channels on Africa’s StarTimes pay-TV platform earlier this year.
Founder and CEO Jason Njoku said in a statement, “Since 2011, we’ve connected with hundreds of thousands of Nollywood fans through our consumer platform, iRokotv.com, but now is the time to extend our reach and showcase our content to millions more.”
Already iRoko Global has inked deals with a host of partners across pay-TV, online, and in-flight platforms, including StarTimes, Canal, the Africa Channel, British Airways, Emirates, South African Airways.
The move marks the latest effort by iRoko to expand beyond its online roots since launching as a dedicated YouTube channel, Nollywood Love, in 2010. After securing $3 million in Series A funding from investment firm Tiger Global, an early investor in Facebook, iRokotv went live in 2011, and today its online VOD service boasts a library of 5,000 titles and 10,000 hours of content.
Senior vice president Justine Powell, who will be leading iRoko Global’s worldwide licensing division, said the launch of the company’s new distribution and licensing arm underscores the popularity of Nigeria’s homegrown, $5 billion-a-year industry.
“Nollywood has always been very well known in Nigeria, and more broadly across Africa … [where] people have a real appetite for those films and TV series,” she said. “I think [iRoko Global] is a real indication of the growth of Nollywood, the interest in Nollywood, and the fact that Nollywood is becoming more and more professional as a film industry.”
Powell also noted that in a country where piracy and shoddy distribution networks make monetizing content a challenge, iRoko “works closely with producers to ensure that the rights are cleared for the right platforms, for the right territories, and for the right length of time.
“For rights holders there’s a comfort in knowing that if they work for iRoko, they will get paid.”