iflix. 365 days ago, nobody knew what it was and what it meant. What began as a crazy idea, came into fruition and today, iflix is Southeast Asia’s leading internet TV service. With tens of thousands of hours of TV shows, movies and more; it serves over 1 million active subscribers across the region. It’s in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia; and soon will expand its foothold to Indonesia, Vietnam and more.
One year ago, today
From a scratch team of a few hires, iflix grew to a humble team of 25, housed in its Mid Valley office. It appointed an advisory board consisting of Hollywood’s most influential business and creative leaders, including the Chairman and CEO of MGM, President and CEO of Fox Networks, just to name a few. Malaysia’s superstar celebrity Maya Karin also joined the startup as an ambassador and shareholder early on.
If you didn’t know already, iflix is backed by Catcha Group, and investment firm founded by Patrick Grove and Luke Elliott. It also has the distinction of being Southeast Asia’s best funded startup, with a pre-launch funding of US$30 million (MYR120 million).
Originally set to go live on 1 April, things didn’t quite go as planned. After getting its act together though, the service eventually launched a month later (26 May to be exact). And the rest of course, is history.
For iflix in its infancy, the goal was to roll-out a minimum viable product, as quickly as it could, reaching as many people as it could. This meant a limited but still sizeable library of content, basic features and video in standard definition.
Check out the Facebook Live video of iflix’s first anniversary media briefing:
I first sat down with the iflix team circa June 2015 – with CEO Azran Osman-Rani, CTO Ash Crick and its communications team. Back then, iflix had a catalog of about 10,000 hours of mobile-optimised content and limited features.
It swiftly moved into Thailand in November 2015, acquiring over 200,000 subscribers in its initial 12-week trial phase.
Along the way, it scored a couple of important, landmark collaborations – first with Digi, followed by Telekom Malaysia (“TM”). The partnerships meant iflix could tap into telcos’ subscriber base, as well make use of telco billing systems. Its telco partnerships now also cover Celcom, Maxis and U Mobile in Malaysia; PLDT Smart in the Philippines and TrueMove in Thailand. In Indonesia, it has inked partnerships with Telkom and Indosat Ooreedoo, all set for the imminent Indonesian launch.
In March this year, it received a huge second round of funding – from industry heavyweights Sky Plc and Entek Group, a testament that it’s here to stay and it’s here to grow. Fast.
iflix now has a catalog of top TV shows and movies, offering tens of thousands of hours of entertainment. It has agreements with over 60 of the world’s leading studios and content distributors namely Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, NBC Universal, Fox, CBS, BBC and Media Prima.
It introduced the cutting-edge “Download and Watch Offline” feature, not available on any other streaming platform. It earlier added Google Chromecast support, alongside a growing list of unique features including personalized recommendations, HD content, subtitles and more.
The secret sauce behind iflix’s success is its accessible low monthly price, great library of content and unique features. Behind the scenes, the platform is incredibly data-driven. Analytics play a crucial role in understanding the audience, and this is what powers its recommendations engine.
As its catalog grows, data analytics play an even more crucial role in recommending the right content.
Azran mentioned that iflix works with local telcos to host iflix content locally (to complement its Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure), which improves network latency and performance. And because content is hosted locally, telcos and iflix save cost on data traffic, which otherwise will be more expensive being routed from overseas.
Talking about data, in totality, over 12,000TB of bandwidth is consumed by iflix users. That’s a lot of data. To put that into perspective, that’s the total of storage in all iPhones sold in Malaysia in 2015.
Malaysians love iflix
Here’s a quick snapshot of what the typical Malaysian iflix user is like.
Malaysians watch an average of 115.11 minutes each day, about 50% less than the Philippines. But, it looks like things are hotting up fast. 60% of iflix users prefer to watch content on their mobile phones. In terms of breakdown of demographics: millennials and Gen Y’s make up 68% of the Malaysian audience, with almost an equal mix of male and female audience.
Peak watching hours are between 9PM to 12AM, although users still linger on till about 2AM. Malaysian users’ favourite genre is drama, followed by comedy and unsurprisingly Korean content.
So what’s next?
In terms of features, expect to see enhanced recommendations, as well as support for AirPlay and Apple TV; as well as more high definition content thrown in the mix.
With over 90 studio and distributor partnerships globally already, iflix continues to bring more exclusive, high quality entertainment into its library. In planning is also producing its own titles and content for both Malaysian and regional/global consumption.
Some awesome new titles coming to iflix in the coming weeks and months include:
- Flash (Season 2)
- Arrow (Season 4)
- Mr Robot (Season 2 – EXCLUSIVE to iflix)
- Hunters (Season 1 – EXCLUSIVE to iflix)
- Bosch (Season 1 – EXCLUSIVE to iflix)
- The Magicians (Season 1 – EXCLUSIVE to iflix)
- Downton Abbey (Seasons 1-5)
- The 100 (Seasons 1-2)
- Pretty Little Liars (Seasons 1-6)
- The Originals (Seasons 1-3)
- The Last Ship (Seasons 1-2)
- House (ALL Seasons)
- Keeping Up with The Kardashians (Seasons 1-4)
- 30 Rock (ALL Seasons)
- Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
- Gotham (Season 2)
- X: Men – First Class
- Night at the Museum
- The Office (ALL Seasons)
Free to start, uber cheap to run
An iflix subscription costs just MYR10 per month for unlimited usage on up to five devices including phones, notebooks, tablets, Mac and PCs, as well as TVs. If paid yearly, the subscription works out to only MYR8 per month.
If you haven’t tried already, you can take up a complimentary 30-day trial with full access to its content, without credit card or payment details needed.
Head over to iflix.com, and be a couch potato, why don’t you.
Oh, Happy Birthday iflix!