Nigeria’s iROKO signs “multi-million euro deal” with Canal+

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Nigerian video on demand (VoD) startup iROKO has announced it is partnering the Canal+ Group in a “multi-million euro deal”  to create and launch the first Francophone SVOD service aimed at bringing affordable, popular mobile TV content to French-speaking Africa.

The mobile-first Android app with download functionality is set to launch in the coming months, with the application designed to optimise data consumption and aimed at building a new mobile-only subscriber base across Francophone Africa.

Canal + group now owns and broadcasts the largest catalogue of African content, including Nollywood films and TV series, African homemade series and shows, and South-American TV Novelas, for French-speaking Africa.  

It has been a busy but testing year for the iROKO, with partnered StarTimes, Vodafone Ghana and Tigo Rwanda, while also moving into content distribution and licensing by launching distribution network iROKO Global.

The company also shut down its desktop service for African users, focusing on a mobile-only experience, as well as downsizing its Nigerian operations by laying off 130 of its staff in Lagos.

Yet it has ended on a high, with the new deal with Canal+ continuing a partnership that saw the two companies previously work together on content distribution deals for linear TV channels such as Nollywood TV.

“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,” said Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ Overseas.

“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 contents that we specifically produce and design for the African market.”

Jason Njoku, chief executive officer (CEO) of iROKO, said his company had been committed to leading viewers to content they will love, and that Canal+ shared this vision.

“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,” he said.

“Together, we will be giving the many millions of French-speaking Nollywood and Telenovela fans unprecedented access to content that has previously been inaccessible. We believe truly amazing, yet affordable content is the right balance to strike in Sub-Saharan Africa and this deal is testament to that.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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