iflix raises $133m funding led by Hearst to take on Netflix in emerging markets

iflix, a Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets has raised $133 million led by Hearst and new investors Singapore-based EDBI and clients of DBS private bank and existing shareholders Evolution Media, Sky PLC, Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT Inc. to bring the world’s best entertainment to its audiences.

iflix says it will use the new funds to further execute on its local content strategy and expand its technology and development teams to meet the unique challenges of emerging markets. These new funding follows a $90m raise in March this year led by Liberty Global and Zain Group to expand operations in South East Asia and launch in Middle East and Africa targeting the growing smartphone users.

According to iflix Co-founder and Group CEO Mark Britt: “We are thrilled to welcome Hearst President and CEO Steven Swartz and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication President Neeraj Khemlani to the iflix family. As iflix continues to grow and pioneer new ways for consumers to enjoy entertainment on their terms, we were looking for a partner who could bring additional expertise and knowledge to our business.”

Hearst is a plus for iflix because of its many innovative and iconic video brands, including ESPN, A+E Networks, Vice, AwesomenessTV, Complex and more.  The new round brings total funding raised by iflix this calendar year to an excess of $220 million and iflix aims to use it to invest in exclusive content production in its markets and sign up new content partners. Recently, the firm partnered with TVOne to launch live premiere football streaming in Indonesia. Last week, iflix Philippines announced its collaboration with the Philippines’ Queen of All Media, Kris Aquino, to commission an original drama series.

Since going live in May 2015, iflix says it has seen extraordinary growth across expanding from four markets to 19 across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The company has additionally built deep integrated distribution partnerships with 27 leading telecommunications operators to bundle the iflix service with customers’ mobile and data subscriptions, all sponsored by the telecommunications provider.

The company has increased its commitment to localization, producing 26,000 hours of subtitles in nine languages, with locally-curated content in every market. iflix’s full content library showcases thousands of award-winning and iconic first run programs and library content from over 230 studio partners from 30 countries. Founding shareholders Evolution Media and Catcha Group have participated in all preceding capital raisings and further increased their support this round.

President of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication Neeraj Khemlani said: “iflix is riding the wave of exponential growth of the middle class in emerging markets that want more access to premium regional, local and Western content. We look forward to working with our new partners Sky, Liberty Global, Evolution Media and Catcha Group, as well as emerging market telcos, to support iflix’s innovative founders and management team in their rapid expansion plans.”

Apart from Netflix, some of the iflix competitors include Amazon Prime Video, Showmax, BritBox and NuVu among others.

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