Low and legal
Calling all movie buffs who spend at least RM30 a month on DVDs – iFlix will satisfy most of your movie cravings for RM8.
iFlix does not aim to reinvent the money-making wheel that Netflix got spinning, but simply address pent-up demand for video-on-demand in the Asian market. It plans to do this with low enough pricing that would entice the movie and TV programme viewers, and still be a viable business.
In Malaysia, where iFlix launched less than a month ago, that magic number seems to be RM8, at the moment. A mere week ago, the figure had been RM10.
iFlix has also launched in the Philippines, and before 2015 is over, another 3 countries (in Southeast Asia?) would be experiencing iFlix service.
Asian piracy and the legal option
Asia has seen at least three Internet TV companies with deep pockets trying to woo it.
The first of these is Netflix, which originated the notion of Internet movie delivery service and proved that it can be done as a viable business. The second is Hooq, a Singtel venture with big movie studios Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers as partners. The third, iFlix is founded by Malaysia-based Catcha Group and Evolution Media Capital.
Since the beginning of 2015, these three have made strategic moves and announcements in a bid to outmaneuver each other and sink their hooks in new markets– Netflix sets foot in Asia Pacific via Australia and New Zealand, while Hooq has entered the Philippines and most recently, India.
All this is towards addressing media consumption that is slowly but surely moving from traditional TV and towards Internet TV.
iFlix co-founder and CEO Mark Britt said, “The concept of having a channel is going to be dead for those below the age of 15.”
Content makes or breaks a subscription-based video-on-demand service, especially in Asia which is so diverse in terms of culture, language and dialect.
iFlix Chief Content Officer, James Bridges has also admitted that obtaining content to deliver to its growing base of subscribers, “…is turning out to be not cheap.”
Currently, iFlix boasts 10,000 hours of movies and TV shows from 30 distributors, about half of which are from Hollywood, USA, while the rest are from Asian content providers.
Thanks to big data and analytics (BDA), Britt shared iFlix’s decision to double their hours for horror-themed content in the next three weeks.
He said, “We think that over time, BDA will make the breadth and depth of our content come to the fore, and serve niche segments that look for these shows.”
The idea is to not only serve the well-known movies and shows, but something that would truly cater an Asian audience. With mobile-based Internet expected to be one of, if not the main medium of delivery, rural, non-English speaking parts of emerging Asia that are experiencing the Internet for the first time via mobile, are also a natural fit for iFlix.
Content chief Bridges shared that studios have been curious and even ‘freaked out’ by the Internet, as a new medium of media content delivery. Putting movies on to the Internet is paying off, especially for smaller independent studios that value the wider distribution capabilities that it offers.
But bigger studios are keeping a very close eye on the decline of DVD sales, and ways to offset decreasing revenues.
Bridges said, “They want to see the revenues from DVD sales replicated, but they want to properly monetise (video-on-demand) and are very selective about who they work with.”
Antsy studios and upcoming competitors aside, another big hurdle for video-on-demand services like iFlix to contend with is the avid peer-to-peer file sharer.
As how one avid Bit Torrent-er from Singapore put it, “There is no digital rights management (DRM), no market segmenting, no platform fights, it’s all MKV (video file formats)…. The content is all mine!”
Now, how does one argue with that?