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Vivendi’s CanalPlus continues its expansion into Africa with the acquisition of Nigerian production studio ROK. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The move comes as CanalPlus seeks to shore up its foreign business in the wake of declines in France. It will give the company a production foothold from the continent to feed into its Nollywood TV and Nollywood Epic channels.
Founded by actress Mary Njoku, ROK is Nigeria’s largest production house and with over 500 movies and 25 TV series since its founding in 2013 and under the umbrella of Jason Njoku’s SVOD IROKOtv.
In the deal, CanalPlus will also acquire their library of over 2,000 hours of content. ROK will continue to create content for IROKOtv and ROK’s four existing channels, one of which is aired on Sky in the U.K., as well as CanalPlus’ African and global channels.
The group will also continue to invest in the growth of IROKOtv, the leading streamer Africa, which CanalPlus invested in back in 2016 when it launched its French-language service.
“Through this acquisition CANAL+ Group is very happy to develop and enhance the catalogue of Nollywood contents and expand the ROK brand inside and outside the African continent,” said CanaPlus International head Jacques du Puy. ROK studio is known for its high-quality productions on shoestring budgets, with some productions coming in at just $20,000.
“ROK has captured the imagination of millions of movie fans, and they have truly supported us as we’ve grown the company to celebrate and enjoy our African culture. I’m excited to be taking our platform on the next stage of its journey with CANAL+ Group, who share our passion for creating original content, supporting new talent and together, we have ambitious plans for the future,” said Njoku, who will stay on as director of the company.
CanalPlus move into Africa comes as it leans more heavily on international markets to combat losses in its home territory, which have led to the elimination of nearly 500 jobs. But while it has seen a steady decline of subscribers in France, it gained over 650,000 customers last year — all of them overseas. Earlier this year, CanalPlus acquired pan-European pay-TV group M7 for $1.1 billion.
Netflix is also heavily investing in the continent, with its first original Nollywood film, Lionheart, as well as animated series Mama K’s Team 4 and two original series, Queen Sono and Blood and Water, currently in production in South Africa.