Vivendi’s Canal+ acquired Nigeria’s largest film production house ROK, expanding into Africa’s growing “Nollywood” film industry while it fights rising competition at home. The deal by France’s pay-TV giant Canal+, according to Reuters, is the first international acquisition in Nollywood.

Lagos-based ROK, founded by actress and producer Mary Njoku, started as an original content incubator for IROKOtv, a video-on-demand service. The company, creator of more than 500 movies and 25 television series since 2013, plans to continue Njoku’s method of low-budget, on-location film production, which it says creates local jobs. 

Canal+ plans to expand production throughout other African regions. The French-language Canal+ presents a potentially powerful partner for ROK, as almost half of the continent’s residents speak French and the number is rising. 

  • Canal+ is looking for new customers as streaming services including Netflix and Amazon siphon off users. 
  • Netflix is also eyeing Nollywood; it recently slated its first Nollywood film, Lionheart, as well as its first African animated series, Mama K’s Team 4
  • Nollywood is the second-largest film industry in the world in terms of production output behind India’s Bollywood. It is also the No. 2 employer in Nigeria behind the agricultural sector, according to the International Monetary Fund.
  • Nollywood typically produces about  50 films per week with an average budget between $25,000 and $70,000. By comparison, the average cost of a top Hollywood film in the U.S. is $250 million.
  • Karma Take: As streaming wars go global and push once-leading TV providers to seek opportunities overseas, Nigeria may rise as a leading production hub for high volumes of affordable content.