Malaysia's iflix raises over $90m for video-streaming expansion

March 8, 2017 2:15 am JST

Malaysia's iflix raises over $90m for video-streaming expansion

Southeast Asian rival to Netflix sets sights on Africa, Mideast

WATARU SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer

JAKARTA — Malaysia-based video-streaming company iflix said Tuesday that it has raised more than $90 million in a funding round to accelerate its expansion beyond its core Southeast Asian markets.

Participants included international cable company Liberty Global, Kuwait-based telecommunications operator Zain, and such existing shareholders as U.K. media company Sky.

Launched in May 2015, iflix runs an on-demand streaming service similar to Netflix but with content and payment options tailored for emerging markets, many of which have strict censorship rules and low credit card penetration compared with developed countries. It partners with local telecom operators to bundle subscription fees with their mobile data plans, for example.

The fresh funding will be deployed to expand the service, now available in nine Southeast Asian countries and Pakistan, into the Middle East and Africa. The company aims to tap the “more than 2.5 billion people with smartphones in emerging markets who have a passion for cultural influences from around the globe and want access to the best entertainment content available easily and reliably,” co-founder and CEO Mark Britt said in a news release. The company does not disclose its subscriber count.

The rapid growth of smartphone penetration has led to a flood of foreign and local online content providers entering such emerging markets as Southeast Asia. Netflix rolled out services to more than new 130 countries last year, and the Spotify music-streaming service has been entering such Asian countries as Indonesia.

At the same time, a lack of internet infrastructure and lower income levels are a challenge for subscription-based services in many emerging markets. In Indonesia, iflix’s monthly subscription fee is less than half of Netflix’s.