There’ll be no more free passes to the movies in iROKO land. Via a post on his blog, iROKOtv founder and CEO Jason Njoku announced that effective from today, the service would be discontinuing the free access to Nollywood movies on their platform and migrate all it’s users to iROKOtv Plus, it’s premium tier for a monthly subscription.
The premium iROKOtv tier, iROKOtv plus was first introduced in 2011, and cost $8 a month. 5 percent of iROKOtv’s user base are paying subscribers. The other 95 percent use the free, ad-supported version of the Nollywood streaming platform.
Why axe the free version? According to Jason, going the 100 percent paid/subscription route is a radical but necessary move away from advertising. Up till now, advertising has constituted the lion’s share of iROKOtv revenues, but is a dying business model. Going forward, the platform will concentrate on increasing the number of paying subscribers whom according to Jason are worth $6/month as opposed to the free users who are worth a mere $0.15 realised from advertising revenue.
The new iROKOtv will be offering a 14 day trial in a bid to onboard new users and try to convert them to paying subscribers. It is not clear at this time what the pricing structure will be.
It will take a while for the paywall to be complete. The new subscription-only regime will roll out to 140 of the 170 countries that iROKOtv serves over the course of the year. As of now the changes do not affect English speaking Africa, the US or UK.
In December 2013, iROKOtv raised another $8 million dollars in series D funding. The startup is going up against other new and significantly well funded video on demand competitors like MTN Dobox and Africa Magic Go that are also taking local African content online for both local and diasporan audiences.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the new iROKOtv subscriptions will cost $6 a month. This is not accurate. We apologise for the error.