IROKOtv at 6
Man. This is a little strange. Very little drama in 2017. We’re IROKO. There is always a little drama lurking somewhere. Alas none this year. To be honest, I ended up spending 5 months of 2017 in London so that pretty much took the wind out of any dramatic things outside of introducing Nnenna, my daughter, into the world. Being a parent is special. When I wasn’t one I used to move around the world fucking fearless. Now, everyday, I’m just scared. Scared that they may fall ill (kids at nursery are always ill), scared that I may let them down (apparently no one told me there is no rule book to raising kids, you just hack it as you go along) and scared that you can’t pay school fees (Holy ghost fire this will never happen in Jesus’ name).
To be honest the most dramatic thing that happened to IROKOtv over the last 12 months has actually been the launch of ROK channels on DStv and SKY. On Tuesday, I was in Johannesburg, and two young Nigerian men blocked me at the fuel station (I drive myself). One of them recognised me and was trying to explain to the other who I was. You know.
You know. The husband of the woman, you know, Nollywood actress, Mrs Mary, who runs ROKTV.
See my life. Post wedding. It was a concerted multi-year campaign to migrate people calling her Mary Remmy, to simply Mrs Njoku. Now I am the husband of the woman who runs ROK. I guess I am just resigned to being the queen in this relationship. In her shadow forever. It’s okay.
Africa is almost ready.
Above are the kiosks located across Nairobi Kenya. Over the next few weeks we will increasingly go live. The big strategy for IROKOtv has been the shift from focusing on the international business (which is close to joining our profitable business units in a matter of months) and finally the big development spend on the Africa business. Today in subscriber terms, I am very confident that business has grown beyond 50% share (last month it was 47%). To say that is remarkable, at least to me, is an understatement. We are still very early but over the next five years we expect Africa to represent 99% of our subscriber base and the vast majority of our revenues. Thus we keep on investing (read losing money, but at least less than 2016 sha) developing these markets.
Because I wasn’t in Lagos for a big slug of time, and thus not overwhelmed by her petty demands, I was actually able to think, based on our success across French Speaking Africa with IROKO+, I caught the geographical expansion bug. Were we ready to enter new markets? The organisation is still pretty immature. So, absolutely not. Would it be a big distraction for the executive team, sure, but I could mitigate that. Could we really afford it? Nope. Would it be fun? Most definitely. IROKO’s #1 value is to Be Bold. So we adjusted to improve affordability (try matching ~$6/year — N2000/GHC25/Ksh600) and started expanding. Below was our plan…
This was super ambitious. Perhaps a little too ambitious. Well. It does say be bold… anyway we created a bunch of corporate subsidiaries across English Speaking Africa . Even though we haven’t officially launched in Uganda or Zambia yet, we have already kicked off payment integration and some greenfield market development exercises. Why didn’t we expand throughout Nigeria, you know Ibadan, Abuja, PH et al before attempting new markets, I hear some say. Is this more Njoku hubris. Yes and obviously No
I have always believed in city states. The concept that great economic wealth is concentrated in tier 1 cities, it’s evident globally. Across Africa, that distinction is increasingly more extreme. Pay TV markets have shown the prevalence for this, so using PayTV as the benchmark, we launched where we believed improved the odds of success. Where consumers had:
- demonstrated a propensity to pay for content (excl. SA~80% of GOtv’s 2.981m subscribers sit in the above 5 countries)
- had a very strong affinity for Nollywood content (we have the app downloads and channels AR — audience reach data which clearly shows this)
- Strong IROKO branded channel reach and ratings among DStv and StarTimes audiences in each market
- High use of mobile money as payment option (Nigeria is a laggard in this regard. Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and obviously Kenya are way out in front)
- and obviously High Android adoption, High Density of consumer disposable income, High Smartphone penetration and High Telco ARPU
Thus IROKOtv became the most affordable PayTV offering in Africa. As we focus on building an educated consumer base and extending our data-free download mantra, 2018 looks like it’s going to be plenty o’drama all the way.
So that’s what 2018 is all about. Continued market development, improving the unit economics across Africa, supported by our increasingly awesome product, engineering, retail and customer support teams.
We have had a singular focus over the years. Survive. As we continue to reduce losses whilst growing revenue, we move more and more closer into cash positivity territory. And even though IROKOtv is <30% of IROKO’s revenues, she remains the growth driver for the future. We 100% expect the growth to be in the future. Below is a slide from an internal document. It’s IROKOtv’s historical growth in revenue and subscribers. In 2018, we begin our journey to proving SVOD in Africa is a real opportunity. But today let’s eat cake jor.
As always. We end with thanking God. We thank Mrs Njoku & Kids. We thank the executive team and employees. We thank our investors. We continue to build this thing called IROKOtv. May her days be long. Because she has somehow managed to survive this long.