Liberty Global, Sky, Others Invest $90M in Iflix, Streaming Service for Emerging Markets

iflix CEO Mark Britt - H 2017
Courtesy of iflix

The new financing will support the company's expansion into the Middle East, Africa and new markets throughout Asia.

Iflix, a subscription video-on-demand service targeting emerging markets, has closed a new round of funding in excess of $90 million to support its further international expansion.

The financing round includes new investors in the form of John Malone's international cable operator Liberty Global; Zain, a mobile and data services operator in the Middle East and Africa; and a privately held investment management firm, as well as additional capital from existing investors Sky, Malaysia's Catcha Group, which runs online businesses, and U.S. investment firm Evolution Media Capital.

"We are incredibly excited with the demand we are seeing for iflix in the Middle East and Africa, as well as other new markets in Asia and worldwide," said iflix co-founder and group CEO Mark Britt. "The new funds will enable us to seize this immense opportunity and continue to empower local consumers and provide them with the best content and services available and the freedom to enjoy that offering whenever and wherever they want, wherever they are in the world."

He added: "There are currently more than 2.5 billion people with smartphones in emerging markets who have a passion for cultural influences from around the globe and want access to the best entertainment content available, easily and reliably. It is our aim to make iflix available to each and every one of them."

Said Liberty Global’s chief programming officer Bruce Mann: "Investing in an innovative emerging business like iflix enables us to gain an even greater insight into subscription video-on-demand services as we continue to develop our own evolving video entertainment propositions for millions of our customers throughout Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean."

Added Andrew Griffith, COO of Sky, which last year invested $45 million in the company: "Iflix is a truly innovative partner. In the last year since Sky joined as a shareholder, we have seen the company surpass its milestones, including consolidating its leading market position in South East Asia and expanding its footprint into new regions. We are pleased to continue our support, as iflix moves on to the next stage of growth, making its world-class service available to millions of consumers in MENA and Africa."

The iflix service is currently available in nine markets across Southeast Asia after recently launching in Pakistan and Vietnam. It has also unveiled joint venture iflix Arabia with Zain to make its service available in the MENA region.

Since going live in May 2015, iflix has seen growth in active accounts and more than 5 billion minutes streamed, according to the firm. On Tuesday, it also highlighted "more than 170 content relationships across Hollywood, regional and local studios and distributors." The service offers Hollywood content, as well as Asian regional and local TV shows and movies.

Britt on Tuesday highlighted plans to "expand our footprint in Asia and roll out the service in the Middle East and Africa." Catcha group CEO Patrick Grove outlined the opportunity there, saying: "With an estimated 880 million connected mobile devices in Africa and the Middle East by 2020, the opportunity in the regions is immense." 

He also said: "When we founded iflix, we set out to create an entertainment revolution. In less than two years since launching our service, we have established the leading online entertainment brand in Asia and are seeing exceptional demand for the service throughout MENA and Africa."

Sony and Warner Brothers early this year increased their investment in HOOQ, a Southeast Asian streaming service that competes head-to-head with Netflix, Amazon and iflix.