17 Apr

iROKOtv Is the African Netflix

Image credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei / Getty Images

$3 a month gets you thousands of hours of Nigerian and Ghanaian films.

Nigeria’s film industry releases something like 1,000 films every year, making it almost twice as prolific as Hollywood and second only to Bollywood, size-wise. Films like Last Flight To Abuja and The Return of Jenifa can be relatively low-budget, running more on pure drama and soap opera-like narratives than fancy cinematography. But as Nollywood’s audience and repute has grown, alongside smaller but increasingly potent African film industries like Ghana’s Ghallywood and South Africa’s booming market, so too has the infrastructure that supports it.

While the primary way to watch Nigerian and Ghanaian films is through a network of bootleg DVDs sales or rogue YouTube accounts that post ripped versions online, a streaming service called iROKOtv lets users watch thousands of hours of films and TV shows online for a subscription fee as low as $2.99 a month. That’s what makes the service often referred to as the “African Netflix” so awesome. By licensing content directly and running on an ads and subscriptions, iROKOtv has adapted to shifts in both economics and technology, giving filmmakers a payout that they otherwise wouldn’t receive—according to some estimates, as much as 90 percent of all Nollywood DVDs are bootlegs—and encouraging members of various diasporas to watch from abroad, too. The site has also begun licensing movies and TV shows from India, Korea, and Latin America, all of which are popular in some African markets. So, yeah, you can watch thousands of movies from around the world for the price of a bagel. Seems like a no-brainer.


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