iFlix is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to the industry of Video on demand. However, it has the potential to completely revolutionize the way that you watch television and movies and should be watched closely. In essence, it is a subscription based service that has exclusive rights over a number of new, exciting and innovative channels, shows, films and programs and provides a range of innovative ways for you to choose what it is that you are going to watch. It is located in south east Asia and has, up until this point in time, mostly been trying to spread across the region. However, it is now spreading outside into other areas of the continent and almost certainly has the potential to spread across the globe.
The company was started in 2015 by Patrick Grove, Mark Britt and Evolution Media Capital, a merchant bank which specializes in sport, media and entertainment. They have struck an interesting model whereby they sign deals with companies that make content and gain exclusive rights to shows, meaning that only subscribers can ever view the shows. The companies that they have signed deals with to date include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, NBC Universal, Fox, CBS, BBC and Media Prima although these barely touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to companies that are eager and ready to sign up.
The status of the merchant bank, EMC, as a founder of the company was crucial to it getting off the ground. Before anything could happen at all, over $30 million of funding had to be sought. This was finally declared in April 2015, not long after Grove and the team began requesting funds from investors. The funding round was led by the Catcha Group and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), which is the largest integrated telecommunications company in the Philippines.
Not in the U.S. yet
iflix is currently available in Malaysia, as well as Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brunei and Indonesia, and has plans to move into other countries in 2016. In November, for example, it will be kick starting its services in Pakistan. It started its trade however just in Malaysia and the Philippines, not long after the announcement that funding had been achieved, launching in these two countries in May 2015. Within just three months, in July 2015, the company announced that it had achieved over 100,000 subscribers and seemed to be going from strength to strength. Indeed, it had become the fastest growing internet based service in the whole of South East Asia.
Given the number of companies that are based in the region, this is a very impressive feat. In November 2015 iflix began a trial phase in Thailand and within weeks they had garnered 200,000 followers. It seemed that they had struck on a very successful model that subscribers loved. In march 2016 the European giant Sky Plc invested $45 million in the company, another sure sign of its success. By June 2016 the company had spread to Indonesia and in August 2016, to Sri Lanka. The company has already hired staff in the positions of ‘Head of Africa’ and ‘Head of Middle East and North Africa’ (Nader Sobhan).
The company has an advisory board, made up of a whole host of top executive directors and creative and business leaders from Hollywood. It certainly helps being well connected and the connections that the company has brought in will surely make it too important to let it fail. The exposure it is already getting is phenomenal and this looks like it is only going to get better.
The company works by striking deals with selected companies across the world. For example, it has partnered with PLDT Group for commercial distribution and several Hollywood studios for content, including Warner Bros, Disney, Fox and Paramount Pictures. In Malaysia, they work with the country’s leading telecommunications provider, Smart Communications (Smart). By working with partners it means that the company can keep its costs down whilst still spreading to new markets.
So, how does iflix work if you are an end user?
Well, there are various special features that have the potential to revolutionize the way we choose what to watch. Firstly, they offer the playlist feature, which has been proven popular on several other streaming sites, such as Spotify in the music industry. The feature specifically includes playlists from various celebrities, adding to the appeal for many, and there are also collections so that you pick a film or TV show based on your mood. If you are looking for a particular genre or topical theme, that is also possible.
You are able to download items as a subscriber and watch them when you are offline. This is a particularly good feature for subscribers and many will make the most of it and download as many films as possible during their subscription period. It is the first and only SVOD service to provide offline viewing to its subscribers. This is a neat point of difference to have. You can even choose whether you want to have the file in low, medium or high quality.
Through its collaborations with SMART and TM, iflix have managed to make it so that their subscribers can have instant access to shows.This is only available via the cutting edge technologies that their partner organizations are able to provide.
As of July 2016, iflix had over 4 million subscribers and this continues to grow. You should bear in mind when thinking about the company that it was at 100,000 subscribers just one year before, in July 2015.
So, the big question ism can they fundamentally change tv watching for good? Is this the future? Will companies be partnering with studios and fund it through subscription services. In all likelihood, based on the internet generation and the way things are going, this is the likely future for telecommunications. It provides a degree of certainty for all the companies involved and it also gives end users a lot of variety and exclusivity. If they don’t go down this line then they risk being overtaken by free viewing opportunities via the internet.