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A couple of days ago, February 19, 2016, the CEO of iROKOtv, Jason Njoku, announced on his blog that the long awaited subscription on demand video (SVOD) app for Francophone Africa is already here. He stated that his team and Canal+ had worked tirelessly to make the project a reality. “So after a few crazy weeks of cranking the iROKO and Canal+ teams, we have given birth to something delightful. Something we hope is valuable to the 250 million residents of French Speaking Africa (FSA),” he said.

The app, iROKO+ will provide Nollywood, Telenovela and African series content to Francophone Africa. The best part is everything is free for subscribers until June 1, 2016. “We are going to make it free until 1st June 2016, so viewers across FSA can enjoy all this content at their leisure whilst we gather data on their content preferences and viewing habits, ” said Njoku.

In December 2015, Ventures Africa reported that French premium cable Pay-TV company, Canal+, and entertainment technology company, iROKO, were set to launch the first subscription video on demand (SVoD) Android app specifically designed for French-speaking countries in Africa. It was designed to optimize data consumption, the service will be aimed at building a new mobile-only subscriber base in the countries it will operate in.

The deal between both companies are part of a Euro deal and the proposed Android app is set to promote growth in a significant market, with 165 million smartphones estimated to be in circulation before 2020. The focus, however, is on language, which is the first step in bringing content closer to viewers and as a result of this, all content on the app will be fully translated into French. There are about 250 million French speakers across 23 countries in Africa, and this will allow both companies to cater to the needs of these specialized users.

Canal+ Overseas President, Jacques du Puy, said Canal+’s ambition is to widen their audience to include mobile entertainment subscribers. “iROKO’s original approach, integrating popular content production and mobile SVoD perfectly matches our group’s entertainment vision in French-speaking Africa. This will also allow us to make more accessible the contents that we specifically produce and design for the African market.”

iROKO CEO, Jason Njoku, said Canal+’s experience in delivering video on demand content to Francophone Africa is crucial to what the collaboration is trying to achieve. “Together, we will be giving the many millions of French-speaking Nollywood and Telenovela fans unprecedented access to content that has previously been inaccessible. We believe truly amazing, yet affordable content is the right balance to strike in Sub Saharan Africa and this deal is testament to that”, he said.

Although companies like Amazon and Netflix have been offering subscription video on demand (SVoD) services long before now, since 2013, video on demand services has become a worldwide trend. While claiming that Netflix has become the largest SVoD service with plans to dominate the industry through an impressive original content lineup and aggressive expansion plans, Business Insider (BI) conducted a survey of the rise of demand for video on demand services in the United States from 2013 to 2015.

Credit - Business Insider
Credit – Business Insider

The BI report also says that the rate at which SVoD services are growing, to the detriment of Pay-TV, has made the latter respond by offering subscribers “skinny bundles” and their own streaming services. According to Markets and Markets, the video on demand (VOD) market is expected to grow from $25.30 billion in 2014 to $61.40 billion in 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.4 percent during the forecast period. In a 2014 projection of video on demand service on the continent, accounting firm, Deloitte, observed that the lack of excellent broadband infrastructure will be a major impediment to the flourishing of video on demand services in several regions in Africa. However, the same report anticipated that from 2014, video on demand users on the continent would grow by about one million despite the lack of broadband infrastructure.

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