Arts & Leisure

After year 1, iflix ready to expand

Posted on June 21, 2016

SOUTHEAST ASIAN Internet TV service, iflix, celebrates its first year by baring expansion plans and increasing the user base of the service.

“We launched in Indonesia today [and] we’ll launch [in] Sri Lanka in the next few weeks. [We’ll also be in] Middle East and Africa [but] luckily that’s beyond my area of responsibility,” David Goldstein, iflix head of Asia, told BusinessWorld during the launch on June 15, at Shangri-La at the Fort, Taguig.

Mr. Goldstein declined to say when the service will be launching in the Middle East and Africa but confirmed that in Asia “there’s several more [countries] to come.”

iflix is currently available in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

“Were not stopping just in Southeast Asia,” he said, before adding that while they will be expanding to much of the world, they will not be doing the same kind of expansion that global player, Netflix, did in January where it simultaneously launched in more than 100 countries.

“We can’t [expand like Netflix] because our strategy requires a local presence. We have to build up a local team. If we launch in a country, we will launch either as an extension of an existing country that’s very similar -- so extend perhaps from Malaysia to Brunei -- or we’ll have a local presence,” he said.

Aside from expansion, the Asian head also hinted at “a very big development in the user experience” sans details, as well as the possibility of getting into creating original series -- a move recently taken by another regional player, HOOQ.

HOOQ, which also celebrated its first anniversary, announced that it is producing a six-part mini-series based on Erik Matti’s film On the Job, about convicts getting hired as assassins. The series will have much of the original production team working on it, with Mr. Matti at the helm as director. The series is expected to air by the fourth quarter of the year.

“We look to do original productions in each of our countries, [but] I think we have to find the right show that can appeal to our partner because we’re most likely doing it with a partner as well as what will appeal to our users. We’re in discussions now with various parties. I see it happening in the next year,” Mr. Goldstein said.

It was also revealed that by last May, iflix had 3.5 million subscribers in all its existing markets, 1.5 million of which are in the Philippines.

The country, according to iflix data shown during the launch, also watches the most content as the average viewing time per day is 195.96 minutes compared to Malaysia’s 115.11 minutes and Thailand’s 114.89 minutes.

Mr. Goldstein said that the Philippines is iflix’s strongest market, with Sherwin dela Cruz, Philippine country manager, remarking that they are looking to more than double the Philippine user base in 2016.

“If I target [doubling the users] there’s no challenge in that,” he said.

iflix will also be introducing new content, including Tagalized versions of Japanese cartoon series such as Voltes V and Daimos “over the coming weeks and months,” alongside series such as Downton Abbey and The Originals among others. -- Zsarlene B. Chua