What Impact Does Netflix in Africa Have on iROKO?


Does Netflix being in Africa have any impact on iROKO? Jason Njoku says no.

This morning on his blog, Jason Njoku explained why Netflix and iROKO are different sides of the VOD coin. He wrote that iROKO is not Netflix. “Irokotv is irokotv.”

What does that mean?

iROKO has always been known for what it is: “the home of Nollywood.” That is its value proposition in Nigeria and abroad. Also, most of iROKO’s subscribers are in the US and UK – “Netflix’s backyard.” Those two markets constitute about 55% of the subscription base. That iROKO has so many customers from those markets could be explained by the fact that both iROKO and Netflix offer different types of content.

“As I have mentioned before, there is only one Netflix of Africa. And that is Netflix. Why? People fail to remember that Netflix is an 18 year old company. 18 years they have been refining their skills at getting people to subscribe for content. They are just awesome at it. But Africa is a little different,” says Jason.

According to him, Netflix being in Nigeria has “zero impact on iROKO” and “our vision for the future. If it’s Nollywood fanatics, you know those guys can watch 3-5 hours per day, so Irokotv is still the only place they can find most of what they are looking for. Considering we are one of the biggest actual producers of Nollywood, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. In time, we will be able to produce 200 movies a year ourselves, no shaking. And with the evident collapse of the DVD market, this only makes us stronger.”

What iROKO has been able to do, which will constitute a challenge for Netflix, is to thrive in spite of the internet troubles in Nigeria. Data plans are expensive and internet connection isn’t the fastest around here.

Jason’s 2014 post about defining competition better explains his rationale. For iROKO, competitors are those who “Competitively outbid us for content we wanted to acquire” and those who “Take away paying customers.” So if iROKO has thrived in markets where Netflix is ‘king’, why won’t it continue to thrive with Netflix’s entry into Nigeria?

Unless Netflix plans to focus on streaming Nollywood content – which is unlikely, and not just that but on mobile devices as iROKO is doing, then iROKO doesn’t have much to worry about.