Riverflix: Movie Streaming Comes to East Africa

Riverflix has cut itself a niche in movie streaming in recent years, in East Africa. Riverwood (Kenya’s film industry) has seen a rise in movie production and quality, but has not fully exploited its opportunities. The launch of Riverflix gives the movie industry a boost.

Movie streaming is becoming one interesting fad even in countries where the structures aren’t defined yet. Iroko TV has shook the Africa film industry especially in Nigeria where they have gained over 1 million hours of streaming in 2011. Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) is quite huge and this success was a matter of time.
“The aim of starting Riverflix was basically to make African films (TV shows, movies, documentaries) available to Africans in the diaspora and at the same time use it to promote and showcase African talent,” Colo Shivere, the founder of Riverflix told HumanIPO, in a recent interview. Riverflix is a movie streaming site that showcases mostly Kenyan films.

The site also helps film producers market themselves and get a return on investments. “Another main important factor was also to use Riverflix as a marketing tool so that the African producers could get a return on their investments once sales picked up. Most movies produced in Africa don’t see a return on the investment used during the production process. This is why we have explored other affordable ways to sell the movies,” Shivere told HumanIPO.

The site has over 25,000 users and growing. Shivere tells us that they have over 750,000 hours of streaming. This is quite an achievement, noting the size of the Kenyan film industry. But is it sustainable? “The Kenyan movie industry alone is not big enough compared to like let’s say Nigeria or India to sustain Riverflix. This is why we have movies from all over Africa,” he said.

Riverflix is also creating an Android app and also testing the platform on mobile gadgets. This will see streaming on the go, which will increase its customer base. Colo Shivere is based in the US where the technology on streaming is advanced.

In terms of revenue generation, Riverflix either buys the rights from producers or engages them in a revenue sharing model. Shivere tells us that soon they will be introducing a monthly subscription model, similar to the Netflix model. Currently users pay for what they watch (view on demand) but with the monthly subscriptions they will have unlimited gateway to movies.

“Streaming the movies to me seemed like one of the most cost effective avenue to use due to the fact that the producers didn’t have to incur the cost of DVD production, shipping, and the worst of all piracy. Besides streaming is the future,” Shivere said. The notable increase in bandwidth in Africa may just be the answer to the film industry distribution issues.

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