Malaysian Netflix rival Iflix raises $90m to expand into emerging markets

Iflix will use the investment from Liberty Global, Zain, Sky, Catcha, and EMC to expand into Africa, the Middle East, and additional Asian markets.

Iflix has raised $90 million from a consortium of investors including John Malone's international cable operator Liberty Global and Zain, a Kuwait-based telco that operates in the Middle East and North Africa.

Existing investors Sky, Catcha Group, and Evolution Media Capital, which previously collectively invested $75 million, also contributed to Iflix's $90 million round.

Launched in May 2015, Iflix provides on-demand video streaming to more than 5 million customers in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The funding will support the Kuala Lumpur-based startup's expansion into Africa, the Middle East, and additional markets in Asia.

"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."

"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."

Since its inception, Iflix has positioned itself as a cheap alternative to piracy, with an initial goal of overcoming the 90 percent piracy rate in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. It was launched in those markets before Netflix became widely available.

Iflix's monthly subscription price varies from market to market, but in Malaysia the service costs RM10 versus RM33-plus for a Netflix membership. While there is some crossover in the content provided by both streaming services, with US films and TV shows also accessible on Iflix, the Malaysian startup looks to differentiate itself by offering a larger range of local content.

In February, Iflix and its investor Zain, which has 47 million customers, announced the establishment of a joint venture called "Iflix Arabia" to bring on-demand video streaming to the Middle Eastern and North African markets including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

Earlier this year, HOOQ, a Southeast Asian streaming service that competes with Iflix, also received investment from Singtel, Sony, and Warner Brothers.