Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Casting the Net – How To Build a Multi-billion Media Company in Africa

Perseverance, tenacity, self-belief, great vision and sheer bloody-mindedness are the key ingredients for any successful entrepreneur.  But, when setting up a new business on the African continent with a seriously innovative business idea that would disrupt the broadcast sector, you need all this and more. These attributes can all be seen in the form of Jason Njoku, CEO and one of the founding partners of iROKOtv  Recently crowned CNBC All Africa Business Leaders Entrepreneur of the year – West Africa, Jason will be sharing his knowledge about how to grow a multi-million dollar media company in Africa with delegates at AfricaCast in November 2013. 

iROKOtv, so named after an African hard-wood tree whose prolific growth is unending once its roots are firmly established, is pioneering monetised digital streaming content.  Beginning with a YouTube channel entitled ‘Nollywood Love’, iROKO’s digital Nigerian movie offering very quickly grew to owning and operating its own online platform; streaming movies, music and a host of entertainment services to the African diaspora. 

The US and UK make up a significant portion of iROKO’s traffic – those who have a desire to stay in touch with their roots.  However, as Africa’s broadband penetration develops and matures, allowing for faster and cheaper access to internet based content, this will probably change.  In fact, the company is noting an increase in its mobile uptake across Africa as it makes every effort to keep the size of its files reasonable and accessible. When he first started the business – only three years ago – Jason had to fly back to the UK to be able to upload the first movie content he had bought.  How things have changed.

Speaking of his involvement at this year’s AfricaCast event at AfricaCom 2013 and what delegates can look forward to learning, Jason is keen to point out that “while working in Africa is a challenge, it is not insurmountable”.  One of those challenges is the online payment structure in Africa which iROKO is slowly tackling.   “Africa is raw and often brutal, but it presents huge and exciting opportunities for those willing and brave enough to want to make a difference as well as achieve commercial success. For me, AfricaCast will be about celebrating the emergence of a new generation of incumbents in the tech and internet world, as well as meeting those who are willing to go that extra mile in disrupting the norm”.

Prior to iROKO streaming its first Nollywood movie, there had been no established value in online content for the movie producers.  Now it is an entirely different picture.  Jason equates the success of the business in no small part to the creation of a win-win situation for the movie producers and for the audiences who devour each successive “slice of home”.  Considering that Nigeria has 300+ movie producers (include anyone who has a mobile phone and an idea in this equation), churns out some 2000 movies per annum with 85% of those going straight to VCD, you can see that there is a wealth of stock to feed this growing appetite. 

The AfricaCast event will provide plenty of debate, discussion and insight into understanding how digital innovation is changing the African broadcast landscape and how to overcome the challenges facing this dynamic market.  To register: www.comworldseries.com/africa

iROKOtv is the world’s largest distributor of Nigerian entertainment. Since December 2010, the company has built a global audience of over six million unique users from 178 different countries across its movie and music platforms.

Between iROKOtv, an on-demand film streaming service for Nollywood movies, and iROKING, a music streaming service, iROKO has the largest legally assembled library on planet earth, giving viewers access to thousands of movies, tunes and music videos at the click of a mouse. The company works with Nigerian movie and music producers & artists to bring this content into the digital arena, showcasing the very best of the country’s incredible creative content to the African Diaspora on beautifully designed, easy-to-use websites, mobile apps and DVDs.

AfricaCom is Africa’s largest communications conference & exhibition.  Now in its 16th year, the conference features 300+ exhibitors and an astounding 8,000 senior decision-makers representing the entire communications ecosystem across Africa and beyond. The conference programme covers the most strategic issues affecting companies in Africa’s digital market - services, efficiency, profitability, customer experience, partnerships, policy and more – and features 6 co-located events: LTE, Digital Music, Mobile Money, AfricaCast, AfricApps, Cloud/Big Data. To register: www.comworldseries.com/africa

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