Jason Njoku, Founder of Iroko TV, a platform that pioneered online streaming of Nollywood films and contents, has denied claims that the platform has ceased operations.
Founded in 2010, Iroko TV quickly gained global fame and subscribers as the first major platform providing global access to African entertainment content.
It formally launched operations in 2011 with the bold vision of revolutionising African entertainment by making Nollywood accessible globally through video on demand. It expanded across Africa, launching in Kenya via StarTimes in 2015 and South Africa through DVDs in 2013.
The platform’s growth attracted sizable investments totalling US$42 million from local and international backers, underscoring the platform’s immense potential to impact entertainment worldwide with the last funding round coming in 2016, marking the height of Iroko TV’s rise.
While Industry-wide, streaming services have faced revenue and subscriber declines, the reason behind Iroko TV’s shaky future is a bit unclear.
As a startup, Iroko TV laid off 150 staff in 2020, citing COVID-19 pandemic, currency devaluation, and a hostile regulatory climate.
The company cited overspending relative to income at the time.
Responding to grumblings about the sudden disruption of the streaming service, however, Iroko TV’s CEO, Jason Njoku, said that the company is on the verge of a platform migration but denied a reported shutdown.
He further explained that the company is shifting focus after 10 years of running on a software stack designed for an African audience with specific broadband configuration needs.
“We had to hard pivot away from Africa, which rendered our existing product and platform obsolete. It was harder than expected to untangle everything after 10+ years of building for Nigeria first,” he told TechCabal in an interview.
Njoku claimed that the migration is near completion, explaining that the engineering pivot was necessary to ensure IROKOtv becomes accessible on smart TVs.
Meanwhile, the Naira’s devaluation since 2016 reportedly slashed the platform’s subscriptions from N3,000 ($18) to N3,000 ($8.33), straining finances.
According to reports, Iroko TV started 2022 with 192,174 active users but the figure had fell to around 46,000 by the end of the same year – a 76% decline.
After selling its ROK studios in 2019, Iroko TV sought to grow subscribers as the key priority but streaming giants like Netflix entered Africa, heightening competition.