African Netflix iROKO Targets Thrifty Consumers With Daily Plans

  • Film-streaming platform to roll out service within weeks
  • iROKO not worried about Netflix's expansion across Africa

Nigerian film-streaming platform iROKO Partners Ltd. will give users the option of buying access for as briefly as one day, as the world’s biggest online distributor of African content seeks to tailor its offering to thrifty consumers.

iROKO has spent time looking at purchasing habits in Nigeria and other African countries where it operates and there’s a clear pattern of people preferring to pay in smaller installments, according to founder and Chief Executive Officer Jason Njoku.

“In Nigeria, someone wouldn’t fill up their tank, they’d literally buy enough to physically get through their journey,” he said in an interview in Cape Town. “There is a mind-frame of having accessible cash.”

iROKO will probably add daily and weekly plans to its monthly option in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania in the next few weeks. It will also have about 20 different options for consumers to pay for its service by the end of March. The fact that the overwhelming majority of payments, including for pay-TV, are made in cash is one of the reasons why he’s not worried about Netflix Inc.’s expansion in Africa.

“There are peculiarities which you have to embrace, otherwise you can’t win in the local market here,” he said. “We’re going to go that extra mile because we are here and we know what it’s about.”

Six-year-old iROKO has reduced its monthly losses by about 70 percent over the last year and will probably be cash-flow positive by the third quarter, Njoku said. The company wants to produce at least 300 hours of original African content this year and double that by 2018.

Netflix began selling its streaming service in 130 new countries including Nigeria and South Africa on Jan. 7, while video-on-demand providers including Naspers Ltd.-owned ShowMax, Ericsson AB’s NuVu and PCCW Ltd.’s OnTAPTV have announced plans to expand in Africa in the past year. iROKO in January raised $19 million from Canal+ France SA and Investment AB Kinnevik.

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