VOD Plaform for Nollywood Output Secures $8 Million in Funding

U.S. investment banner Rise Capital is one of the firms backing the expansion plans of iROKOtv, the Africa-based movie platform for Nigerian movies.

LONDON – VOD platform iROKOtv, the Africa-based movie platform for Nigerian movies, known colloquially as "Nollywood," said Dec. 17 it has finalized a funding round of $8 million, led by existing investor Tiger Global.

The cash raised includes further participation from Sweden-based investment group Kinnevik and the arrival of a fresh investor to this round, U.S.-based Rise Capital, which specializes in emerging markets.

It brings the total raised to $21 million, arguably making iROKOtv one of the most well-funded internet banners in Africa.

iROKOtv said the additional $8 million investment will be pumped into growing traffic, content curation and building "a platform-agnostic distribution system" for its one million existing monthly users.

So far, the capital raised by iROKOtv has been used to acquire content, expand the London-based tech team, develop mobile websites and applications and open offices in London, New York and Johannesburg, alongside the company’s Lagos headquarters. iROKOtv now holds the world’s largest online catalog of African content, with over 5,000 movies.

The new capital will be channeled at building and transitioning the company’s audience from a primarily Nigerian diaspora base to an African base, as well as migrating from a largely ad supported model to more subscription service.

Currently 50 per cent of iROKOtv’s audience is located in the U.K. and U.S. alone, but with the African continent coming online, demand for homegrown multi-platform video content is rising fast. iROKOtv CEO and co-founder Jason Njoku said the cash injection will "further fuel our expansion and help us to realize our long term goal of becoming one of Africa’s preeminent media companies."

Njoku's company started life three years ago as a Nollywood content aggregator on a YouTube channel. It is now a VOD platform watched in 178 countries around the world with one million unique visitors a month.

"These metrics were achieved with hard work from a great international team and today’s news allows us to continue in the same vein and accelerate our growth," Njoku noted.

Bastian Gotter, COO and co-founder added: "This additional capital allows us to consolidate our position as VOD market leaders for Africa, invest in tech, content and infrastructure and, importantly, we are now in a position to become profitable by 2015, which is an extraordinary feat for any startup, let alone an African VOD one like ours."

Nazar Yasin, managing partner of Rise Capital said his firm was looking forward to continuing "to help them scale their content acquisition and distribution channels and secure their positioning as Sub-Saharan Africa's largest and most impactful media company."

At the beginning of July 2012, iROKOtv introduced a subscription service (SVOD) to its site, iROKOtv PLUS, where for $5 a month, subscribers are the first to access the 12 brand new movies uploaded onto the site every month.

iROKOtv, coined "the Netflix of Africa" by the media, has aggregated the world’s largest online Nollywood catalogue, now standing at 5,000 plus movies and has been credited by for pioneering VOD for Africa and African continent.