Netflix competitor iflix is calling it a day in the Middle East just days after the firm raised $50 million in funding for expansion in Asia and several months after exiting in Africa to Kwese.
iflix, Southeast Asia’s subscription video streaming service last week raised over $50m in a new round of investment to drive growth ahead of a prospective IPO.
The round of funding was led by Fidelity International with participation from Indonesia’s MNC, Japan’s Yoshimoto Kogyo, and South Korea’s JTBC in addition to iflix founders Catcha Group, and strategic shareholders Hearst, Sky and EMC.
The funding round was to provide iflix with significant firepower to aggressively pursue growth strategies and further increase the active userbase which surpassed 17 million in May 2019, up from 9 million six months earlier.
However, things are not going well with the subscription-video streaming company which is calling it a day in the Middle East.
According to a statement from the company, “Iflix and its partner, Zain, are working together to complete the wind-down of the operations in the Middle East to allow iflix to focus on its core markets in Southeast Asia.” iflix had partnered with Zain to launch Iflix Arabia but the JV has reportedly failed to pay content distributors in time and the with calls and emails going unanswered.
In February 2018, iflix sold its pan-African operations to Econet Media’s Kwesé to deliver seamless mobile experiences to millions of viewers in Africa. In Africa, iflix had operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, and was offering a collection of both local African and international series and movies, including first-to-market exclusive programming.
At the time of the acquisition, Econet Group Founder and Executive Chairman, Strive Masiyiwa said: “We are thrilled to deepen our operating partnership with iflix to lead the transformation of media in Africa. Our companies share a mutual passion for innovation, along with a deep understanding of the culture and evolution of digital businesses. Mobility in content consumption has grown exponentially in Africa and by partnering with iflix Africa we are ensuring that we are not only taking part in the evolution, but are leading the movement.”
Iflix, which launched in Arabia in 2017, two years after it set up in Malaysia and the Philippines, was operating in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan from its Dubai offices and was working on getting users Arabic original content from local producers as well as international producers but the growing frustration with the local content distributors has led the service to lack fresh content for its subscribers and therefore being uncompetitive.
iflix also faced stiff competition from Starz Play, Netflix, Shahid Plus, Amazon, beIN, Wavo and Vuclip. The firm was also not doing well financially and had to let go of its staff and shut its offices. Finances were the major reason the firm exited the market as it could not pay its content distributors who had high hopes in it as the market’s number 3 content buyer.
With the exit of iflix Arabia, iflix is said to narrowing its focus on its core markets in Southeast Asia. The exit will also allow the firm to focus on its content partnerships with more than 150 studios and distributors.
Last week iflix, raised $50 million for its Southeast Asia’s subscription video streaming service to drive growth ahead of a prospective IPO.