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Iroko Partners, an online distributor of African movies and music, has raised another $2 million in its latest round of funding from a Swedish venture capital group as it seeks to take the service to cable and satellite TV partners in the U.S. and Europe.
The Lagos, Nigeria-based company raised the funds from Sweden's Kinnevik, an early investor in Groupon Inc. Iroko previously raised $8 million from U.S.-based hedge fund Tiger Global in April as investors in emerging markets seek to tap into one of the fastest growing movie businesses in the world.
Kinnevik investments head, Henrik Persson, said his firm, which has invested in African telecoms, sees tremendous opportunity in African media and online services. "It has very low penetration and we see a really strong growth trend. He added: "A part of our investment philosophy is that we think that the perceived risk is higher than the real risk in this market..what people see as a lack of opportunity is a lack of supply."
Iroko has focused on forming partnerships with most of Nigeria's leading filmmakers for distribution on its own platform as well as with major partners like Google Inc's YouTube.
Though the majority of Iroko's operations are based in Lagos, it also has set up offices in London and New York.
Founder Jason Njoku said the majority of the company's revenues come from users across the African Diaspora in the United States, Britain and Canada and other countries outside the continent.
The Nigerian movie industry is now widely acknowledged as the third largest after Hollywood and India's Bollywood in terms of the number of movies produced. While so-called Nollywood movies are typically distributed within Nigeria and around the world on DVD or Video-CD discs, Njoku spotted a gap in the market to digitize the movies for online distribution. Most of the Web viewers have been in developed countries with fast-enough Internet traffic speeds to enable video streaming.
The company's revenues are predominantly generated through advertising around the movies. But in July it launched a monthly subscription with the promise of earlier windows for fans to catch new films without advertising.
Since launching two weeks ago the subscription service Iroko TV has signed up just under 5,000 paying subscribers according to Njoku. It already had 560,000 registered users since the Iroko TV service launched in January.
"Our users have such an intense relationship with the content, they spend hours watching."
Njoku said the new funding will focus primarily on helping expand operations outside Nigeria. He said the next stage for the company is to find ways of licensing its partners' content to cable, satellite TV companies and international airlines.
"The Internet is one of the most poorly monetized platforms for content," said Njoku. "Since we're platform-agnostic it would be mad for us not to try and form relationships with TV."
Iroko sees itself as a global business with pan-African roots so it is also looking to license more movies and other content from around Africa from countries like Ghana and Kenya among others.
It's early October in New York which means that Advertising Week, which kicked off on Monday, is officially in full churn. This year, the organizers of the conference that attracts all stripes from publishing outfits to retailers to ad agencies may as well have slugged the event Ladies Week given the number of companies pitching to women.
Specifically that would be AOL, Yahoo and Demand Media all of which launched in the past couple of days "premium" video channels catering to the women, and, by extension, consumer packaged goods companies looking for a means to place their online advertising dollars.
That’s the view of L.A.-based entrepreneur and media attorney Sam Rogoway, who is launching Near Networks, a national video service to improve those efforts, while keeping production within the budgets of many local companies.
BTIG's Rich Greenfield is an analyst who seems to have never met a contrarian debate on the media business he didn't like. This morning, he turned his attention towards online video site Hulu, arguing in a research note that its owners should think twice about selling the business (subscription needed). First round bid for Hulu, which is owned by News Corp., Disney, Comcast, and Providence Equity Partners, are due Wednesday and are expected to reach as high as $2 billion.
In his note, Greenfield, known for his embrace of hyperbole, says selling Hulu is "a mistake of epic proportions." He says Hulu is the perfect weapon for combating cable TV's excessive ad load, supercharging on-demand TV, and for integrating social media's impact on how consumers watch TV.
If you want to be at the forefront of video social networking, Seattle is the place to be, not Silicon Valley.
As the number of TV networks and programs has exploded in the last decade, a major concern for cable companies has become how will viewers find their favorite shows among 1,000 channels. The problem has gotten even worse with the availability of more and more TV shows online, where some of the helpful network silos have disappeared altogether.
So where do you go if you want to see last night's episode of Modern Family, then follow it with episode 6 of Season 3's Mad Men, before checking out if your favorite Indiana Jones movie is online?
Everybody loves free. But free has a price. And that price might just be $9.95 a month, according to The Los Angeles Times, which writes that Hulu, the second most popular video site in the U.S, will soon start charging for a premium version of its site called Hulu Plus. We haven't been able to confirm the details yet (Hulu's staffers are sticking to the ol' decline to comment). But rumors of premium version of Hulu have been doing the rounds for the last year. Back in October an NBC executive said the company was experimenting with various business models, including subscription content.
Let's also not forget Hulu is soon to be a third owned by Comcast (through its ongoing acquisition of NBC) -- which is not known for giving video programming away for free. Its other parents, News Corp and Disney, also aren't known for their charity in the video programming business.
YouTube, the world's most popular video site, has just revealed that a whole day's worth of online video is uploaded to its servers every single minute. That's a mind-boggling statistic when you bear in mind this site is just five years old.
Last May YouTube, which is owned by search giant Google, revealed up to 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Clearly more and more people are using online video and this graphic from the YouTube blog shows the trajectory.
YouTube, the video site, is celebrating the third anniversary since it was bought by Google with news that it now serves more than a billion views a day to users around the world.
In a blog by YouTube CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley, he reminisces about how he and co-founder/former CTO Steve Chen made a fun video declaring themselves the "burger kings of media". How sweet.