The business of content distribution: the battle for the African market

Intersection with technology

With the close to 1 billion mobile phone subscriptions in Africa, content aggregators such as Iflix and iROKO are poised to mine a serious goldfield. I find it heartwarming that an African player has risen to the challenge being presented by the global players. Nollywood is the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output. It reportedly employs one million people and constitutes 1.04% of the Nigeria’s GDP. Nigerian has been enjoying considerable success interms of its creative sector. The Nigeria’s film industry is prolifically producing close to 50 films a week or more than 1,200 films a year. It surpasses Hollywood in volume terms and is set to match or better Bollywood in India, which overtook the USA as the largest film producer in the 1970s. Other African countries can only learn and piggy back on what others are doing. Personal communication gadgets present a new business frontier.

Take for example iFlix, a subscription video on demand service which last year  announced the launch of iFlix Africa to bring its world class service to sub-Saharan Africa.  It has since partnered with Kwese to deliver a pan African service to millions across the continent who can purchase the Kweseplay gadget for IPTV.

iFlix Africa is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa and trades commercially as ‘iflix’. According to Kethryn Meichie in charge of corporate communications at the time “launches are planned in Nigeria, Ghana Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, iflix Africa will increase iFlix’s global footprint to 23 territories worldwide, with additional regional markets to be added over the coming months.”iFlix has since been moving fast across the continent to spread its wings with the launch of its SVoD service across Sub Saharan Africa making its vast catalogue of thousands of TV shows, movies and more, including many first run exclusives and award winning programs available to hundreds of millions of consumers across the region.In addition to having the ‘best’ of Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and other regional and local programming, the service will additionally offer an extensive collection of highly acclaimed African shows and movies with iFlix Africa planning to introduce exclusive African content series.

Let there be competition

IFlix’s entrance on the market implies serious competition for the various pay TV and VOD services that have been invading the African market.  Zimbabwean players set to feel the heat because of iFlix include Netflix and DStv. Kwesé Television from Econet Wireless and ipidi TV from Liquid Telecom are yet to access the Zimbabwean market. iFlix is offering its services at $4,99 monthly.

Consumers can only benefit from the bone fight that is yet to ensue. Monopolies breed complacency inadvertently. Zimbabwe television has been in the doldrums for a long time is because of the lethargy that is concomitant with monopolies. Competition is good for keeping businesses on their toes. In fact, it is the bigger malady of the African socio-political environment.

An African player

Last year Nigerian based Entertainment and internet TV platform iROKO announced the signing of multiple deals totaling $19m for content development and capital funding from Kinnevik AB, its existing investor and French media giant CANAL+. The funding is intended to upscale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent.

In a statement released at the time, Jason Njoku, a thirty something Chemistry graduate- CEO and Co-founder of iROKO said: “The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.”


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