Malaysian-based online video service, iflix raised USD 90 million in the latest funding round from a group of investors, including Liberty Group, Zain, Sky, Evolution Media Capital and Catcha Group. This is iflix’s largest funding round to date; the company disclosed that the funding is aimed to facilitate global expansion.
Launched in May 2015, iflix currently operates in ten countries including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brunei, the Maldives, Pakistan, Vietnam and Myanmar. The company positions itself as the leading video on demand service in emerging markets.
The company has been very active in international expansion. The most recent launches are Vietnam and Myanmar in the first quarter of 2017. iflix also entered into the joint venture with Zain, a Kuwait-based mobile and data services operator in the Middle East and Africa to launch “iflix Arabia” in February 2017. Iflix Arabia will be headquartered in Dubai and this is expanding iflix's footprint to Zain’s territories of operation, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. According to Zain, the launch of iflix across Middle East and North Africa region is planned for the second quarter of 2017. Zain is one of the investors participating in this round of funding.
Global expansion means more strategic partnerships with local companies
It has always been challenging for online video players to succeed in the current Southeast Asian market, where pirated content is usually widely available and consumers' propensity for paying for content remains low. As paid-for online video service is still at an early stage, it is right for iflix to attract users through localised content at a reasonable price, besides bundled service through partnership with local broadband and mobile network operators.
To offer iflix as a bundled service, the company has partnered with Indonesia’s Ooredoo, Philippine’s PLDT and Malaysia’s Digi and Telekom Malaysia. Partnership with local broadband and mobile network operators will provide iflix with access to a large number of existing user base as potential subscribers. By having partnership with iflix, operators are able to increase data revenue, as well as retain and attract new customers by offering over-the-top (OTT) content on top of mobile or broadband connection. With wider adoption of 4G networks and household broadband connections, service providers will be able to monetise via video consumption on their network. IHS Markit believes that operators will receive a fee for new customers signing up via their platform.
Iflix continues to attract investors’ attention
By investing in iflix, investors are able to strengthen their position from gaining insights about the online video market in Asia region. European-based company, Sky and Liberty Global are investing in iflix in this round of funding to diversify their companies’ portfolio. In March 2016, Sky first invested USD 45 million in iflix in March 2016. Liberty Global is an international TV and broadband company with 29 million customers. In September 2016, Liberty Global had a deal with Netflix to offer all its customers directly via cable set-top boxes.