How IROKOtv Can Become The ‘Netflix of Africa’ [OPINION]

Nollywood movie lovers all over the world will soon have a new destination for watching movies as IROKOtv launches on December 1, 2011.

Iroko Partners, the company that acquired the exclusive rights to distribute all of Nollywood movies online, currently has the largest collection of movies available anywhere, organized in one place.

Although IROKOtv will allow you to watch all of these movies for free, it may eventually charge users a subscription fee after June 2012, thus adopting the Netflix business model. [More on this below]

Netflix, founded in 1997, is the world’s leading internet subscription service that revolutionised the watching of movies and TV shows online. With about 25 million members as at June 2011, the service lets you watch as many movies as you want for a monthly subscription fee of $7.99.

Netflix recorded $822 million in revenues for Q3 2011 and forecasted earnings of $841 million to $875 million for the fourth quarter although the service lost more than 800,000 U.S subscribers in third quarter.

In my opinion, IROKOtv could just become Africa’s own Netflix providing unlimited access to African movies and TV shows to the world, growing its membership base and generating huge revenues in a few years.

Currently, the NollywoodLove channel on Youtube sees over 1.2 million viewers monthly and has generated about $1 million in revenues mainly from adverts on the movies.

But, Iroko Partners have realised that putting Nollowood movies only on Youtube could be restrictive and limited as it doesn’t allow them to build a membership base and explore other revenue streams such as the subscription model available on Netflix.

With the subscription model, IROKOtv would be able to charge its members a small fee for watching movies (without ads)  and for free (with ads) on its own platform.

The platform could also bring full length episodes of your favourite and popular TV shows such as Naija Sings, Big Brother Africa, etc as well as TV soap operas to its platform for members to have access to online.

Besides, internet-connected devices such as the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 consoles as well as the Apple TV or Encipher TV could easily be connected to your TV or HDTV for streaming instantly from IROKOtv.

Of course, an IROKOtv application can also enable you to watch all of these video content on your iPad, iPhone, Galaxy Tab and other Android-powered devices.

However, for IROKOtv to really become the ‘Netflix of Africa’, broadband connection speed will have to be optimal, as no ISP or Telco currently offers ‘real’ broadband in Nigeria, due to the lack of a national fibre backbone infrastructure.

Although watching video content instantly may work with different levels of broadband, a minimum speed of 500kbps (0.5MB) is highly recommended.

At the moment, NollywoodLove sees more than 90% of site traffic coming from regions like the EU, North America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, where broadband services are more readily available and where there’s a huge number of Diasporan Nigerians.

Hopefully, when broadband becomes readily available and easily accessible in Africa, more and more Africa-based viewers will begin to form IROKOtv’s primary audience.

I think that if IROKOtv could attract a critical mass Africa-based audience as well as a huge global audience; expand their video content offering to include African movies and TV shows and episodes; and generate revenues in the excess of $1 billion annually, it could really become the ‘Netflix of Africa’.

What are your thoughts?

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