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SVOD Service iflix Eyes Expansion with $90 Million Investment

CEO plans to put funds to use in the Middle East, Africa

March 9, 2017 | Video

Competition in Southeast Asia’s subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) sector keeps heating up. This week, Malaysia-based service iflix closed a new round of funding that added $90 million to its coffers. iflix currently operates in nine countries in Asia-Pacific and has a total subscriber base of 5 million, according to TechCrunch.

Iflix plans to use the funds to make the leap from a regional player to a global one. “We are incredibly excited with the demand we are seeing for iflix in the Middle East and Africa, as well as other new markets in Asia and worldwide,” said company CEO Mark Britt in a statement. “The new funds will enable us to seize this immense opportunity.”

The SVOD service faces competition from fellow regional player Hooq, a Singapore-based company that raised $25 million from its investors in January 2017, along with US behemoths Netflix and Amazon Prime. iflix has appealed to users in emerging economies by bundling its service with telecoms, thereby streamlining its billing practices for consumers who might not have access to a credit or debit card. In addition, iflix provides its subscribers with a mix of regionally and internationally produced content, something that foreign players like Netflix are just now investing in.

However, there are signs that Amazon Prime and Netflix are major challenges for upstarts like iflix, which launched in May 2015. According to a February 2017 survey of internet users in the Philippines by AIP Corporation, 39% of SVOD subscribers had signed up for iflix, while 60% had a Netflix account.

Internet Users in the Philippines Who Subscribe to Select Subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD) Services, Feb 2017 (% of respondents)

Netflix also appears to be taking a page from iflix by partnering with telecoms in at least a few of the roughly 130 markets it expanded into in January 2016. Earlier this week, Netflix announced that it had forged alliances with India-based mobile service providers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone. The agreements bundle Netflix’s app with Bharti Airtel’s own services, and allow Vodafone customers to pay for Netflix via their monthly wireless bill.

While iflix does not operate in India, it does have one significant advantage over Netflix in the markets where the two services go head-to-head: price. In Thailand and Indonesia, for example, iflix’s service is offered at less than half the price of Netflix.

Rahul Chadha

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