Fresh from raising $90 million from investors in March, iFlix, a Netflix-like service for emerging markets, has announced its first slate of original content.
The Malaysia-headquartered business claims five million registered users across 10 countries — it recently branched out into Africa and the Middle East — for its service which costs around $3 per month. Beyond cheaper pricing, iFlix has differentiated itself by hosting local content as well as Western programming, but today it announced that it has commissioned its first original drama series, Magic Hour, and a comedy series that will be localized in three countries.
Magic Hour is an eight-part series follow-up to the 2015 Indonesia hit film of the same name, and it will feature the same two lead actors who stared in the big screen production. There’s no timeframe on when it will be released, but iFlix has high hopes given that the film itself was Indonesia’s fifth-highest grossing movie of 2015.
The comedy series is an altogether different production that iFlix said will bring “humour previously only heard in comedy clubs” to the streaming service. Also an eight-part series, it will be localized in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia with each version containing its own hosts and local cultural take.
In addition, iFlix is also working to get quick access to locally produced cinema films in Southeast Asia, its primary market. To that end, it said it has agreed to a deal with Malaysia-based indie firm Skop Productions — and its Viper Studios affiliate — that will see its films brought to iFlix as soon as 20 days after they complete their cinema run. In addition, Skop will produce an undisclosed mini-series that will air exclusively on iFlix.
“We are thrilled to work with local top tier industry players to offer our members so many of the region’s top entertainment franchises, whilst supporting them in broadening their distribution channels out of cinema,” Sean Carey, the former Netflix executive who recently became iFlix chief content officer, said in a statement.
Netflix has gradually increased its focus on emerging markets since it launched its service globally in January 2016. It particular, it has added a download feature, inked distribution deals with mobile operators and commissioned local programming in countries like India. Amazon has also joined the global battle after it expanded its Prime Video service worldwide in December. iFlix hopes to rival the duo using an approach that places emphasis on local programming, distribution deals and lower pricing.
That strategy has won backing from investors like British broadcast Sky, and possible more — iFlix said its recent $90 million round isn’t closed and could be increased. At the end of 2015, we reported that the firm was raising an ambitious $150 million to globalize its business, showing that it harbors intentions to expand into more frontier markets worldwide.
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