As part of its plan to strengthen its position in Africa’s movie market, French media giant, Canal+ Group, has acquired Nigerian production studio, ROK film studios from VOD company IROKO TV.
Canal+ Group has been quietly making moves in Nollywood, one of the world’s largest film industries, and is now looking to create more African original content.
According to a statement released by ROK on Monday, the studio, launched in 2013 by actor and producer, Mary Njoku, is Nigeria’s largest production house with more than 500 movies and 25 TV shows.
The organization currently produce Ghanaian and Nigerian movies, reaching 15 million subscribers across DSTV and GOTV platforms, the statement said.
Njoku says that Canal+ is working with ROK because the studio has the ability to create Nollywood content at scale.
“They (Canal+) wanted an organization that could supply their studio with Nollywood content. They have some channels in Francophone Africa and wanted a supply of African content for those channels,” she told CNN.
Canal+ currently offers Nollywood TV, a fiction channel dedicated to Nigerian movies to its subscribers in French-speaking Africa.
The French media company has turned its sights on African viewers as growth has declined in its home terrain due to competition from Amazon, Apple and Netflix.
“This acquisition represents a key stage in Canal + group’s international expansion. It allows the group to be present across the entire Nollywood value chain, and acquire unique expertise in the mass production of African fiction — films, series, and entertainment,” Canal+ said in a media release.
Acquiring ROK will create more hours of Nollywood content for Canal+ Group’s audience in France and represents a battle for African eyeballs between media powerhouses such as Netflix and China’s StarTimes.
Njoku says the acquisition is a sign that Nigeria’s movie industry is doing well in producing quality content for the continent.
“When a company as big as Canal+ acknowledges and is ready to work with us to export Nollywood, it sends out a positive signal to the movie industry. Filmmakers are assured that they are doing something right,” she said.
Netflix, in particular, has taken a keen interest in the African market, appointing award-winning Kenyan film producer Dorothy Ghettuba as the Manager for International Originals, and making several high profile Nollywood acquisitions, such as Lionheart and Chief Daddy.
The US media streaming company first captured the heart of the African audience in 2015 when it paid $12million for the worldwide distribution rights of ‘Beasts of no Nation’, starring award-winning actor, Idris Elba.
In the same year, Netflix started the distribution of Nigerian movies buying blockbusters like ‘October 1’ and ‘Fifty.’
In 2017, PAY TV operator, StarTimes announced the listing of Nollywood movies as part of its export to the Chinese market, signalling an interest in Nigeria’s movie market.