Earlier this week, IROKOtv boss, Jason Njoku, as has become a custom, published a blog post that gave a bit more insight into and about the company’s activities and plans for the future. Already notorious for how much information and data he puts out there (in a culture where secrecy is the order of the day), the tech entrepreneur, made the big revelation that the Nigerian IROKOtv Market had overtaken that of the UK in terms of subscriptions. While this was big—and good— news, it wasn’t even the biggest announcement he made.
In no particular order, here are the key things we took away from the post.
The Nigerian Market is BIGGER
If nothing else, Mr. Njoku made it clear the Nigerian market is going to be a major focus for IROKOtv over the next few years. He started off by revealing that the number of active subscribers in Nigeria had just overtaken that of the UK, trailing only that of the US, having grown by about 515%. This, considering the company hasn’t started moving Nigeria’s acquisition, means Nigeria is likely to be number one by the end of 2017.
“Last week, @irokotv Nigeria overtook the UK to become our #2 market in terms of active subscribers (in terms of revenue is a whole other matter),” he wrote. “The US remains #1 by a pretty wide margin, but at year end, we expect that will change. Nigeria is q-o-q growing twice the rate as the US. And we haven’t really started moving Nigeria’s acquisition.”
If there was still any doubt, this clearly is another reason why there is almost a general consensus that 2016 was the greatest year for Nigerian cinema so far.
Finally, word on exactly what purpose those kioks are supposed to serve.
Late in 2016, we started seeing IROKOtv branded kiosks all over Lagos. At first, we weren’t sure what to expect from them, since the company kept mostly quiet about their intentions. Eventually we found out they were subscription centres, where users could reload their accounts. Thanks to the blog post, we now know they do much more than just that.
“The core purpose of the kiosks are pretty simple: Customer Education, Product Evangelism, Product Customer Support, Transactions (collecting cash/facilitating mobile wallet etc), Data Free Downloads (DRM protected),” Njoku said.
Apart from planning to expand the number of kioks (65) by another 35, the company also introduced the “Kiosk Finder,” a feature that allows the company use your mobile GPS in suggesting the nearest IROKOtv kiosk to you.
If you already have the mobile app and would like to use this feature, it’s at the top right corner of the page, close to the “Search” bar.
Beyond Data 1.0
This was perhaps the biggest announcement.
Imagine you could use apps like “Xender”, “File Share” and “Flash Share” to send and receive movies you or your friends download from IROKOtv.
What if we told you this would be possible in the coming months? According to Njoku, the company is rolling out a beta version of the technology this week, and expects that it will be launched fully over the next few weeks and months.
“We are utilising the Wifi Direct technology widely available in any and all file sharing services (xender/fileshare/flashshare et al) to firstly move files from agents to customers,” Njoku said of the project. “Once it’s battle tested, we open up and allow person-to-person movie file sharing under the .iroko drm file storage framework,” he concluded.
“Wouldn’t this be abused by the customers?” you might ask. Well, to use the service, you will have to have to have the IROKOtv app installed on your mobile device, and must also have an active subscription. Once both these things are in check, you can send, receive and watch content, even without internet connection.
“This is Nollywood. They are our folks, the folks who sit in the base of the pyramid. Who aren’t necessarily tech savvy. But they are our people. It will take decades to bring them into the fold. Yet we look to the future and we see 100% of them one day having an Android device.,” Njoku said of what inspired the move.
What will all these mean for the future of the company and Nollywood? We can only wait to find out.