Nigerian video on demand (VOD) service iROKOtv has raised a further US$8 million in funding, fuelling plans to move from a largely diaspora audience to dominating the pan-African market.
The new round of funding – led by existing investor Tiger Global, with Swedish company Kinnevik and United States (US) based Rise Capital also contributing – brings total investment in the company since its inception in 2011 to US$21 million, with the company saying it is “arguably … one of the most well funded internet companies in Africa today”.
“The US$8 million raised by Tiger Global, Kinnevik and Rise Capital will further fuel our expansion and help us to realise our long term goal of becoming one of Africa’s preeminent media companies,” said Jason Njoku, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of iROKOtv.
“We started life three years ago as a Nollywood content aggregator on a YouTube channel and today we find ourselves with a VC-backed dedicated 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.”
With 50 per cent of iROKOtv’s audience currently based in the US and the United Kingdom (UK), the company says it intends to use the new funding to target African-based audiences, noting that as more of the continent becomes connected to the internet, demand for home-grown content is increasing.
“We have forged a niche in African movie programming and captured people’s imagination in terms of bringing previously unobtainable yet popular content, loved by millions, to a global audience on an awesome platform. This additional capital allows us to consolidate our position as VOD market leaders for Africa, invest in tech, content and infrastructure,” said Bastien Gotter, chief operating officer (COO) and co-founder.
iROKOtv also intends to move away from an advertising revenue structure to a subscription based service, as well as renewing focus on monetising its catalogue through its subscription service – iROKOtv PLUS – and through distribution partnerships with airlines and TV channels.
“Importantly, we are now in a position to become profitable by 2015, which is an extraordinary feat for any start-up, let alone an African VOD one like ours,” said Gotter.
HumanIPO reported at the start of December Njoku had been appointed CEO of iROKING – sister company of iROKOtv, which he has been concentrating on recently – following the firing of Michael Ugwu for gross misconduct.
Njoku will take up the position of CEO of digital music distribution platform iROKING – which he originally founded – as of 2014.
In June, iROKO Partners added an offline option for its Nollywood movie sales by beginning to sell hard copies in South African stores, while just a month earlier it launched a business incubator and raised US$2 million for it within just three months.