iRoko TV seals $19m mutiple deals to increase operations in Francophone countries

Nigeria’s Nollywood platform, iROKOtv, announced yesterday that it has signed multiple deals of about $19m for expansion across Africa. This announcement comes few weeks after Netflix’s expansion into Africa was perceived as a threat to the business. The first deal sees the largest PayTV operator in France and French speaking Africa, CANAL+ provide capital funding and content development for iRoko TV while the other sees the Swedish-based media company Kinnevik AB provide capital funding. As a result of the deal, Jacques du Puy, President of Canal+ Overseas, will join the iROKO board.

“… We are proud to partner for the scale-up in French-speaking Africa, with clear ambitions and the means to reach them,” said Fabrice Faux, CFO of Canal+ Overseas.

This announcement is good news for iROKOtv after it laid off 130 staff last year, which the CEO of iRoko TV, Jason Njoku, claimed is part of a larger restructuring for the company.

However, the biggest challenge of the industry remains access to internet. Internet penetration in the continent is very low at 9.8 percent with the rest of the world accounting for the remaining 90.2 percent. Africans cannot boast of receiving quality internet access from their internet service providers and this is problematic for companies like iROKO. Another challenge is its audience since 55 percent of its subscribers come from outside the continent and in 2015, only about six percent of the viewers across iROKO’s YouTube channel were in Nigeria. Though, Jason Njoku does not see these issues as threats to the growth of his company.

“The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content,” he said.

This deal, which is its first mega deal in 2016, will bring the total funding on iROKO from international investors to about $44 million. The investors for the company include Tiger Global, Kinnevik and RISE Capital.

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