PARIS– Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group has joined forces with iROKO to launch a mobile-first SVOD service in French-speaking Africa to bank on the boom of mobile Internet across the continent.

Sub Saharan Africa counts 250 million French-speakers across 23 countries. As many as 165 million smartphones are estimated to be in circulation before 2020, according to Canal Plus Group.

Set to roll out in the coming months, the on-demand service will be a mobile-first Android App with download functionality, aimed to build a mobile-only subscriber base and will showcase popular French-language TV content on mobiles. The app will be entirely translated into French and all content will be in French.

“Now that Canal Plus is close to having two million pay TV households in Africa, our ambition is to widen our audience to those whose mobile is the main entertainment device. iROKO’s original approach integrating popular content production and mobile SVOD perfectly matches our group’s entertainment vision in French- Speaking Africa,” said Jacques du Puy, president of Canal Plus Overseas. “This will also allow us to make more accessible the contents that we specifically produce and design for the African market.”

The deal fits into Canal Plus Group’ new focus on expanding its footprint globally. The company’s international-driven strategy was outlined by Vivendi boss Vincent Bollore over summer.

iROKO CEO Jason Njoku added that “iROKO has been committed to leading viewers to content they will love and Canal Plus Overseas shares our vision, translated into French. Canal Plus has over 20 years’ experience of delivering content to Francophone Africa, we have an unrivalled Nollywood content catalogue and have pioneered VOD in Africa.”

Canal Plus Group now owns and broadcast the largest catalogue of African content, including Nollywood films and TV series, African-homemade series and shows and South-American TV Novelas, for French-speaking Africa.

The amount of the deal was not disclosed but Canal Plus Group stated the pact was worth millions of Euros.

Canal Plus Group and iROKO previously inked content distribution deals for linear TV channels including Nollywood TV.

Earlier this year, Orange, the second-biggest paybox group in France, inked a deal with Afrostream, an SVOD platform showcasing African, African-American and African-Caribbean films and TV series.