South Africa’s digital entertainment space is about to get rocked. The recent arrival of leading distributor of Nigerian movies and music, iROKO Partners, in the country and opening of its offices in the Maboneng precinct, Johannesburg, represents a new chapter in the development of the local industry.
iROKO Partners launched in 2010 and, according to its website, has built a global audience of six million unique users from 178 countries.
Statistics available on the website describe ‘Nollywood’ as “the world’s second largest movie industry in terms of output, making roughly 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40 000 per project.”
Its core business involves the purchasing of online licences of movies and music directly from producers and recording artists. This material is then streamed online to a global audience.
The company wants to direct the attention of the local market towards the strength of its platforms, including iROKOtv and iROKING.
Music site iROKING recently entered into a partnership with mobile social network, Eskimi, to enhance the delivery of content to mobile phones.
The new mobi site, music.eskimi.com, offers registered Eskimi users access to iROKING’s music catalogue, which can then be downloaded directly onto the mobile phone.
Genevieve Dumorne, Director at iROKO Partners, heads up the Johannesburg operations.
According to Dumorne the main objective with coming to South Africa was to establish a firm footing in the market and do so by engaging directly with consumers through representatives.
“It really is for the same reasons any business wants to establish operations in South Africa. We want to be on the ground here and, through our representatives, make people aware of the platform,” she said.
The key objective for iROKO is to address issues with delivery using its knowledge and technology. The company has established a strong following in Nigeria and other key regions in Africa, as well as the West, with offices in New York and London.
Dumorne describes the digital entertainment market and distribution as generally fragmented, and iROKO plans to add immediate value by offering consumers an alternative.
Another of the company’s ambitions is to demonstrate the power and relevance of the brand and the strength of its platform, differentiating these within Africa’s electronic entertainment market – one they describe as being generally fragmented.
Dumorne says given the rapid growth of mobility on the continent and South Africa’s high ICT profile, the timing of this launch makes sense.
Although she acknowledges that there are numerous operators that currently disseminate music and movies online, the credibility of these platforms and quality of footage is often dubious.
Asked about the possibility of accepting and using South African content, Dumorne said the company may consider this as a possibility further down the line, but for now will “stick to its bread and butter” and core strength.
”We want to establish the brand before diversifying,” she added.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor