×

‘Lose All Your Assumptions About Asian Streaming,’ Says Iflix CEO Mark Britt

“Almost every assumption about subscription video on demand that is based on Western metaphors has failed in developing markets,” says Mark Britt, co-founder and CEO of Asia-based streaming video group iflix. “If we are beating our competitors it is because we are learning those lessons quicker than others.”

The company was launched two years ago from a base in Malaysia and has recently expanded operations to 24 countries and territories, including many in Africa and the Middle East. It pitches itself as “the world’s leading entertainment service for emerging markets.”

This week iflix went some way to justifying that claim by winning tech consultancy Frost & Sullivan’s accolade as Asia-Pacific Video on Demand Company of the Year for the second year in a row. Frost and Sullivan says it scores the company on metrics including expansion into new country markets, service growth, ARPU, viewership, degree of product and service Innovation and the reduction of customer acquisition cost.

Statistical data to back up that analysis, however, is hard to come by. Operators have generally been reluctant to disclose much publicly. Aside from the usual unwillingness to provide information that may help a competitor, part of the reason for the lack of metrics are the different market landscapes and patterns of consumer behavior. Britt likens SVoD in emerging markets to “a knife fight.”

“Many consumers don’t have bank accounts, access to credit, or IDs. There is often no history of subscription,” he says. That means video films must work closely with mobile telecoms firms. And while cashless payment services are emerging in East Asia, and are booming in China, in Africa, only Kenya has an effective cashless system (M-PESA).

Yet Britt says there is reason to be optimistic. “The core human need to be entertained is universal. And we are finding that people’s propensity to pay is constantly surprising us on the upside.”

Britt says that iflix currently has some 6.5 million active paying subscriptions. Of those the majority are in Asia, roughly 500,000 are in the Middle East, and just last week it signed its first subscriber in Nigeria. Iflix users are binge viewers, with per visit duration typically 105-150 minutes, and peak viewing time (astonishingly) between 10pm and 2am. “We are doing everything to encourage binge watching,” says Britt.

That includes the inevitable move upstream into originl production. The company has recently started airing its first Filipino original series, recently struck a co-production deal in Indonesia with Wicky Olindo’s Screenplay Films, and unveiled its first Arabic original “Tough Luck.”

Britt will be taking part on Tuesday (Nov. 28) at a seminar that pitches him alongside Amazon’s APAC head of content James Farrell, PCCW Media’s CEO Janice Lee, and Hooq CEO Peter Bithos. The session is part of the Singapore Media Festival’s Leaders Summit.

More Digital

  • USA Today Mobile Apps Get Oscars

    USA Today Launches Oscars AR Experience to Highlight Work of Costume Designers (EXCLUSIVE)

    USA Today is getting ready for the Academy Awards with an augmented reality (AR) experience dedicated to the work of the costume designers on some of the Oscar-nominated movies. The experience, which went live in USA Today’s Android and iOS app Monday, presents wardrobe from 6 movies in augmented reality, including costumes worn on “Mary [...]

  • Amazon Prime

    Amazon Prime India Greenlights ‘Bandits’ Music Series

    Amazon Prime Video India has greenlit original series “Bandish Bandits.” The show is a musical created by Still and Still Media Collective. The series will follow an Indian classical musician bound by tradition and a pop star whose performance skills are greater than her talent. A bandish is a term used to describe a musical [...]

  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese

    Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili

    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s [...]

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content