Tag Archives: Jason Njoku

Canal+, iRoko launch SVoD in Africa

Vivendi-owned Canal+ Group has partnered with Nigerian video-on-demand company iRoko to launch a mobile-first SVoD service for French-speaking Africa.

Jacques du Puy

Set to roll out in the coming months, the service is part of Canal+’s new strategy of expanding its footprint globally. According to the company, sub-Saharan Africa counts 250 million French speakers across 23 countries and as many as 165 million smartphones were thought to be in circulation up to 2020.

Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ Overseas, said: “Now that Canal+ 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. This will also allow us to make more accessible the content that we specifically produce and design for the African market.”

Jason Njoku

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

The on-demand service will be accessed via an Android App with download functionality, aimed at building a mobile-only subscriber base and will showcase popular French-language TV content. The app will be entirely translated into French and all content will be in French.

Canal+ and iRoko previously signed content distribution deals for linear TV channels including Nollywood TV. Last year Canal+ acquired Nollywood broadcaster and production studio ROK from iRoko for an undisclosed sum as part of a move to boost its local production in Africa.

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Lagos gov’t suspends LSFVCB director

The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has suspended the executive secretary of the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB) for imposing a 5% tax on producers and digital platforms including Netflix and Iroko TV.

Adedayo Thomas

Gbenga Omotosho, spokesman for the state government and commissioner for information and strategy, said Bamidele Balogun acted without authorisation and was therefore suspended.

In a statement, the goverment said: “There is no levy on audio and visual contents of all physical and digital platforms in Lagos State. The executive secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, Mr Bamidele Balogun, is said to have announced a 5% levy.

“The government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media. The executive secretary, who was not authorised to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative enquiry.”

He added that the Sanwo-Olu administration was aware of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry and other sectors of the economy and a Federal High Court had barred the LSFVCB from levying film and video producers.

In June, Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court ruled that the LSFVCB cannot collect taxes at the same time as the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), as it would amount to double taxation. Despite this, Balogun wrote letters to several digital platforms, including Netflix and Iroko TV, demanding the 5% levy.

A letter addressed to Jason Njoku, MD of Iroko TV, dated August 31 reads: “We hereby request for immediate payment of the 5% levy on all audio and visual content produced, sold, distributed, marketed, exhibited, streamed, downloaded and shared across all physical and digital platform situate, lying and being within Lagos State.”

Balogun, who had earlier said that producers who failed to register would face severe sanctions by the board, declined to speak about the matter when contacted.

Adedayo Thomas, executive secretary of the NFVCB, said the new levy by the state government was wrong and would obstruct the growth of the sector.

“There is an existing court judgment on that matter. The move is wrong and I will be meeting with representatives of the state soon to look into the issue,” he said.

The Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria and the president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Pretty Okafor, questioned the Lagos State government for going ahead with the levy despite a court judgment and claimed that the new levy would be challenged again in court.

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iRoko turns to North America, Europe

Nigerian video-on-demand company iRoko is planning to target markets in North America and Europe rather than focusing on African growth.

Jason Njoku

The move is part of efforts to reduce ‘cash burn’ and curb losses caused by, among other things, Covid-19, which have led to the axing of around 150 jobs.

Jason Njoku, iRoko’s CEO, said that even though international subscriptions grew by 200% in April, consumer confidence ebbed and collapsed as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.

The pandemic came at a time when the company’s revenues were being further squeezed by the latest rounds of naira devaluations and an amendment to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission code regarding payments to artists.

“All of the macro and individual issues plaguing West Africa were essentially not major issues in the West. Yes, jobs were being lost. Yes, economies were contracting, but with all the stimuli leaders were injecting, it made the impact on the average person marginal,” said Njoku.

“Our annual ARPU [average revenue per user] internationally is US$25 to US$30. When people talk to me about Netflix and its impact globally, and then in Africa, I always smile. My response is the same. Globally, streaming media is booming. In Africa, it is regressing.

“iRoko is now ‘pausing the burn’ and plans to hunker down and see what the next 18 months brings. Even after pushing incredibly hard in Africa for the last five years, our international business represents 80% of our revenue today. So by taking out Africa growth-related costs, we cut our US$300,000-per-month burn to less than US$50,000 a month. Still high, but once things normalise we should have a clear path to free cash flow and profits in 2021.

“We still believe in Nigeria, we still believe in Ghana, we still believe in Africa. It’s a strange thing to realise that even after almost nine years with iRokoTV, five exclusively focused in Africa, we still may be too early for Africa.”

Last year, iRoko sold its African film studio and international TV network ROK to French audiovisual firm Canal+ Group, which bought the company to strengthen its content production reach across Africa.

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France’s Canal+ acquires ROK

France-based Canal+ Group has acquired Nollywood broadcaster and production studio ROK for an undisclosed sum as part of a move to boost its local production in Africa.

Mary Njoku

The deal was struck with ROK’s Nigeria-based parent company Iroko, which has exited the production and broadcast subsidiary while retaining full ownership of Francophone African SVoD platform Iroko+, which was previously a joint venture with Canal+.

ROK claims to reach some 15 million pay TV subscribers across the DSTV and GOTV platforms in Africa with its ROK channels and has so far produced over 540 movies and 25 original TV series, making it one of the most prolific production houses in Nollywood.

Under Canal+’s ownership, ROK will produce “thousands more hours of Nollywood content to deliver movies and original TV series” for Canal+’s audiences in French-speaking Africa, according to the French firm. The acquisition also includes ROK’s linear pay channels.

Iroko, which also owns and operates the Iroko SVoD app across Anglophone Africa and around the world, launched ROK in 2013 to produce content for its various platforms. Canal+ Group will continue to collaborate with Iroko, with non-exclusive content distribution of ROK content via Iroko’s SVoD app.

As part of the deal with Canal+, ROK founder Mary Njoku – who is married to Iroko founder and CEO Jason Njoku – will continue as director general of ROK Productions SAS, and retain a shareholding in the company.

“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,” she said.

“I’m excited to be taking our platform on the next stage of its journey with Canal+ Group, which shares our passion for creating original content and supporting new talent, and together we have ambitious plans for the future.”

Jacques du Puy, CEO of Canal+ International, added: “Through this acquisition, Canal+ Group is very happy to develop and enhance the catalogue of Nollywood content and expand the ROK brand inside and outside the African continent.”

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First Creative Nigeria speakers named

Lagos-based media agency Think Tank Media & Advertising has announced the first speakers for July’s Creative Nigeria Summit.

The two-day event will see speakers address the issue of digitisation in Nigeria with the theme, Content: The Future of Nigerian Television in a Digital Era. UPDATE: The event will now be held in Lagos on July 16 and 17.

The speakers will include top media executives and broadcast journalists with decades of experience in television and film, many of whom have impacted the industry through innovation.

They include:

• Bada Akintunde Johnson, country manager, Viacom International Media, parent company of MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central

 

 

• John Giwa-Amu, co-founder of Red & Black Films

 

 

 

• Sanjay Salil, founder of Media Guru and one of India’s top media entrepreneurs
 

 

• Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife, a television and film production company

 

 

 

• Avi Armoza, founder of Armoza Formats and one of Israel’s top television producer/distributors
 

 

• Anahita Kheder, senior VP, Middle East, Africa and South Eastern Europe, FremantleMedia International
 

 

• Jason Njoku, CEO and co-founder of iROKOtv, one of Nigeria’s leading VoD platforms
 

 

• Emma Smithwick, film and TV producer and scriptwriter

 

 

 

• Jeff Kalligheri, CEO of Waterstone Entertainment, a production and financing company
 

 

The speakers will address more than 2,000 media professionals in various sessions at the Summit, which will include masterclasses, panel discussions and workshops.

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, is expected to deliver the welcoming address at the conference.

For more information and to register for the event, click here.

Think Tank Media & Advertising is an independent media planning, media buying and creative agency working for both local and international clients.

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Iroko TV teams with Cream

Video-on-demand (VoD) service Iroko TV is partnering with new talent platform Cream to showcase up-and-coming movie makers nationwide from this week.

Dapo Oyebanjo

In a panel discussion at the recently concluded Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive), Iroko TV CEO Jason Njoku and Cream CEO Dapo Oyebanjo (aka Nigerian musician D’banj) disclosed that both platforms have formed a partnership that will help young filmmakers launch their work to the public.

According to Oyebanjo, mobile platform Cream already has more than 3.5 million subscribers for music and the company is now ready to work with the film industry to build up an audience and help fund movies.

“Cream is all about building talents and forging partnerships between brands. This is what we aim to do by partnering with Iroko TV for filmmakers on our platforms,” said Oyebanjo at NECLive.

”Every month, beginning from the month of May, we will be picking 10 scripts that we believe will interest viewers. We will take each script to the professionals and a video will be shot and produced by us.”

Launched in 2016, Cream (referring to creative, reality, entertainment, arts and music) is a platform that provides creative minds with the opportunity and space to showcase their talents and build their brand.

Iroko TV is an online TV platform. Often described as the ‘Netflix of Africa,’ it is one of Africa’s biggest mainstream online movie websites, giving subscribers instant access to more than 5,000 movies and TV series.

Iroko is already available in Nigeria and South Africa, while a French-language version launched in Senegal, Cameroon, both Congos and the Ivory Coast last year. The service recently launched in Ghana.

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iRoko VoD goes live in Ghana

African VoD service iRoko has launched in Ghana with a host of Ghanaian and Nigerian movies and TV series.

Jason Njoku

The company, which launched in 2010 as a YouTube channel, claims to be the world’s largest online distributor of African content.

iRoko is already available in Nigeria and South Africa, while a French-language version launched in Senegal, Cameroon, both Congos and the Ivory Coast earlier this year.

The Ghanaian service includes recent movies and TV series such as Stalemate, Ghana Must Go and Black & White. Other English-speaking territories such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are being eyed for 2018.

The service costs GHC25 (US$5.67) for a 12-month subscription and allows users to download movies and series directly onto their phones via kiosks without using up their data.

Jason Njoku, CEO of Nigeria-based iRoko, said: “We know that our Ghanaian neighbours cannot get enough great content, but that data costs have all too often been prohibitive to them watching content online.”

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