Eighteen years it was, that video streaming giant Netflix snubbed the rising economy that is Africa, leaving a market of millions longing for its services - at least to checkmate the monopolist whims of the continent's cable services. (continues below... )
Now that indigenous risk-takers have well tested the path, and the whole world is looking towards Africa, Netflix – it appears – is finally stepping into the Africa race according to the company's surprise announcement yesterday at the on-going Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2016) holding at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. The company announced its expansion to 130 more countries, bringing it's total reach to 190 countries. The service is thus now available in nearly all African countries.
Since the announcement, Twitterverse has been awash with doomsday predictions for local video on demand services, led by Africa's iROKO TV. This morning, however, iROKO TV's Founder Jason Njoku published a blog post showing why the company had nothing to worry about.
While recognizing and commending the achievements of Netflix, Jason Njoku is quick to point out that: "Netflix irokotv isn’t. irokotv is irokotv".
The iROKO boss goes further to clarify that iROKOTV is the "home of Nollywood, home and abroad", and "one of the biggest actual producers of Nollywood movies". Hinting to the fact that Netflix caters more to a wider, global taste.
Even that global taste – it seems – has been rapidly buying into iROKOTV -- even from Netflix' home domains, as 55% of iROKO's subscribers come from the UK and USA.
Many questions remain about whether Netflix will make it in Africa, with the our costly, slow and limited Internet bandwidth per subscriber, and also about the local impact of their entry: Competition? Doomsday? Better local content?.
Clearly, Netflix has the infinite know-how, war-chest and reputation to excel in Africa – but especially - we opine - if they are armed with solutions to leapfrog our lagging Internet infrastructure (GOTV style). Any plan to engage local talent and content on the long run, would also be a plus.
Born 1980, Jason Njoku is a British-born Nigerian entrepreneur, film magnate and African start-up investor. He co-founded iROKOtv in 2010, after TEN FAILED ATTEMPTS at starting a business. iROKO was at first the popular YouTube channel "NollywoodLove", which became profitable within two months of launch, and caught the attention of US-based Venture Capital fund Tiger Global (early investors in Facebook).
iROKO has remained heavily in the news for being one of the best funded internet startups in Africa, having raised a total of approximately $25 million in various rounds since inception. In 2013, alongside his business partners Bastian Gotter and Mary Remmy Njoku, Njoku launched a $2m Internet start-up support company called Spark, which is already replicating the success.
In 2015 the iROKO platform logged over 300 million views across its YouTube channels with a current monthly traffic of 1.9 million visits per month to its website.
Jason Njoku has been cited as Forbes Africa's "one of the Ten Young African Millionaires to Watch" (2012), CNBC Africa's "Young Leader of the Year" for West Africa, and one of Fast Company’s "Top 1000 Most Creative People in Business".
Get inspired by his TEDx video below "Failing all the way to success". Enjoy!