Jason Chukwuma Njoku, Founder, iROKOtv, says the online TV service has recorded over billion views on YouTube alone in what he describes as a “straight up amazing” milestone for the multi-platform service that promotes the Nigerian entertainment industry on the Internet.
Commenting on the alleged release of Nollywood blockbuster, “30 Days in Atlanta” by video pirates, Njoku also sounded the death knell for the syndicates believed to be at the popular Alaba Market in Lagos saying that the online delivery platform will eventually made the “fade” out of business.
“Back in 2010, iROKO pioneered the Multi Channel Networks in Africa. In its lifetime we have generated 1,006,935,177 video views and 3,247,975,023 estimated minutes watched. Thats 1 billion video views. Just on YouTube. For me, that is straight up amazing”, he wrote in a blog posting on his website underscoring the chequered growth of the company.
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlIxyXvPJdA” width=”700″ height=”500″]
“Even though we migrated to our own operated platform, iROKOtv, in Dec 2011, we still have been massively present on YouTube. Across almost 200 channels we still generate 22-25m video views per month. This comfortably makes us one of the largest (if not the #1) local content partner in Africa for YouTube. In 2011 we essentially had 100% of the market. Since then things have changed. The entire Nigerian entertainment has come online via YouTube as a platform and tens of competitors have sprung up. But they are all still small compared to us”, Njoku writes.
Njoku says that though the company abandoned the platform in the period between 2012 and 2014, it was still able to remain number one because of early works done on search engine optimization (SEO) and tagging.
“The more video views you generate, the more you are positioned by the YouTube algorithms to continue being watched and generating video views”, he adds.
This has paid off as iROKOtv has not only attracted venture capital funding but today generates revenue from its curated collection of Nollywood titles.
[su_quote cite=”Jason Chukwuma Njoku, Founder, iROKOtv”]But the Alaba way will fade. The digital migration has begun. They have chosen to not live in the new world so will be forced to die in their old one. It will take time. But whereas iROKO was raised on Alaba Nollywood, my fate has been divorced from them. Our exposure is minimal and we typically deal with more sophisticated and forward thinking production houses. They have chosen to destroy all the value online with their YouTube strategy of taking their entire libraries and making it available for free. In an effort to cripple iROKO, they have inadvertently set themselves up for future pain.[/su_quote]
According to him, “iROKO MCN has generated millions of dollars in revenue. We would have been better off in cash terms today if we hadn’t had raised venture capital and had just continued as was. But we rolled the equity dice. Focused on the long term. Getting to a few million was never the plan. Gunning for the $100m was the dream. Either way, we’re good.”
On YouTube, which he calls the online equivalent of the Free To Air (FTA) TV service, he believes that the company has positively impacted Nollywood amid the growing competition. Competition has not only come from companies replicated the IROKOtv distribution model, but also from film pirates whose activities continue to create loss of revenue to the entertainment industry.
“The thing I am most proud about is our impact on structuring and enforcing the windowing of Nollywood online. As new Nollywood emerged from the Alaba-fuelled madness of Old Nollywood, we are happy to be pioneers with our subscription service in ensuring the best quality content has added the additional value it deserved. Beyond any doubt, we have demonstrated that people were willing to pay for great quality. We now have tens of thousands of subscribers who trust us with their hard earned money for access to arguably the best curated selection of Nollywood titles ever assembled. But we still have a long way to go.”
According to Njoku, “Alaba still has the ability to cause all kinds of harm to the fledgling window system and Nollywood at large. 30 Days in Atlanta is a perfect example. The pinnacle of success in terms of box office in Nigeria with, I believe, over N200m generated in its relatively short cinema run. The Alaba pirates struck. Reeking havoc on carefully planned release windows and removing tens of millions of Naira from the hands of the content owners. Revenue which would have been reinvested to raise the New Nollywood bar and the industry at large.”
The IROKOtv Founder believes that the film pirates’ days are numbered as digital migration gets underway and innovators continue to explore creative and disruptive channels to expand the frontiers of promoting Nollywood in a borderless market. One of such is the company’s planned premiere of Thy Will be Done at the iconic BFI IMAX in Waterloo, London come February 26, 2015.
“But the Alaba way will fade. The digital migration has begun. They have chosen to not live in the new world so will be forced to die in their old one. It will take time. But whereas iROKO was raised on Alaba Nollywood, my fate has been divorced from them. Our exposure is minimal and we typically deal with more sophisticated and forward thinking production houses. They have chosen to destroy all the value online with their YouTube strategy of taking their entire libraries and making it available for free. In an effort to cripple iROKO, they have inadvertently set themselves up for future pain. You cannot reserve the perception of value after making it available for free for so many years. You devalue the content. That’s fine for them I guess. But for New Nollywood the game keeps moving. The craft improves”, Njoku says.