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.

Netflix killer iflix is finally launching in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania & Zimbabwe

iflix co-founder and group CEO Mark Britt

Less than two months after launching in MENA, iflix, a Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service has announced its launching iflix Africa to bring its world class content to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) targeting South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe then expand into other markets gradually over the coming months.

iflix Africa will be headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa where it has had an office since late last year. iflix Africa also has been operational in Nairobi, Kenya for a while but the SVoD service platform is planned to go live across Africa in the second and third quarter of 2017, to carry its thousands of TV shows, movies and more, including many first run exclusives and award winning programs available to hundreds of millions of consumers across the region.

Netflix and Naspers-owned ShowMax are already in these markets but out of South Africa, iflix will majorly see competition from Netflix as ShowMax has suffered poor uptake due to South Africa’s xenophobic acts against other Africans and due to its foundations in apartheid founded Naspers which has shifted focus to US, Europe, India and LatAm and other emerging markets .

According to Mark Britt, iflix Co-founder and CEO: “The establishment of iflix Africa represents an incredibly exciting step in iflix’s growth story. As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, there is a unique, ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to fundamentally shift the way a billion people consume and enjoy content. By 2020, Africa will have 720 million smartphone users. We aim to meet the entertainment needs of those growingly connected viewers.”

“As the fastest-growing mobile market on earth, Africa is without question one of the world’s most dynamic regions. We are thrilled to introduce our first-of-its-kind SVoD service here. We are passionately focused on providing the broadest selection of premium content at a price everyone can afford. We can’t wait to tackle both the enormous opportunities and challenges ahead, in serving this incredibly diverse and exciting region,” added Andre de Wet, iflix Head of Africa.

Currently available to over one billion consumers in 18 markets across Asia and MENA, iflix will soon roll-out its world class service across sub-Saharan Africa with initial launches in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Each subscription will allow users to access the service on up to five devices, including phones, laptops, tablets, and television sets, for viewing wherever, whenever. On devices, iflix beats both Netflix and Showmax.

With a global footprint to 23 territories worldwide, iflix is promising the best of Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and other regional and local programming, the service and an extensive collection of highly acclaimed African shows and movies with iflix Africa planning to introduce exclusive African content series.

Launched in May 2015 in Asia, iflix has rolled out its world class service to 18 markets across Asia and MENA and has over 5 million members. In March 2017, iflix announced the completion of a US$90+ million round of funding to support its international expansion. The round added new investors Liberty Global Group and Zain Group to the company’s formidable shareholder registry which also includes global heavyweights Sky plc, Catcha Group and Evolution Media.