Internet TV service Iflix is going out in full force with its expansion plans. Most recently in September, it launched in Brunei after establishing itself in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
But growing across the region is not without challenges, said Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer of Iflix Malaysia in an interview with A+M. In Malaysia, he added, the company aims to cater to its local audience who are demanding greater flexibility with not only what they watch, but when, how and how frequently they watch content.
While Malaysians enjoy global content, in Malaysia its user base is also showing affinity to content from the region. Aside from Hollywood productions, Malaysians have shown great interest in not only Korean TV shows but also all things Indonesian.
But how does the company differentiate itself and compete from the bigger players like Netflix in Malaysia and regionally?
Well for one, it has kept its pricing low. Currently, Iflix has kept its price low at RM8 per month, compared to its competitor Netflix which is about RM33 per month.
But simply focusing on pricing is not enough. Osman-Rani said Iflix was created specifically to address the demands and challenges faced by consumers in emerging markets. These challenges include inconsistent infrastructure, expensive costs and limited mobile data allowances.
“We are obsessively focused on our local customers, and we love emerging markets along with the unique challenges they present. Whether it is pricing, payments, inconsistent infrastructure, cultural preferences and standards, or local programming and language, at Iflix we work everyday to provide the best possible experience and broadest most relevant selection of content for the local consumers at a price that everyone can afford,” he added.
Osman-Rani, who is also chief operating officer of Iflix Group said the company is definitely expanding into several other emerging markets across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but couldn’t reveal any details on the specific country or launch date due to uncertainties posed by these new markets. However, an Iflix’s spokesperson did confirm with A+M, one of those launch markets will be Pakistan.
The company also said it is actively banking on the rising number of Southeast Asian smartphone users and households with fixed line broadband that is expected to grow in excess of 240 million and 55 million, respectively by 2018. Plus, according to Iflix, between 14% to 38% of these smartphone users are already watching long-form videos on their devices, will likely contribute to its success.
“Iflix ventures into emerging markets where smartphone penetration and video consumption is growing at an incredible speed. We build a product that’s better than piracy and we are hyper focused on the local consumer and the unique challenges they face when it comes to entertainment,” Osman-Rani added.
People also matter. The group has also been trying to beef up the management team lately.
Today, it also announced the appointment of Emmanuel Frenehard as its chief technology officer of Iflix Group, for all of its Walt Disney’s businesses outside of the US, effective from January 2017. Frenehard brings over 20 years of experience leading large-scale global technology organisations, driving Disney International’s global expansion and implementing new business models. In March this year, Cam Walker who came with more than 20 years of experience in media, content and marketing led businesses was hired as its head of Iflix Indonesia.
On his own career move, Osman-Rani, who was CEO of AirAsia X prior to this new role shared with A+M, that despite the two companies are in different industries, there are a lot of similarities. For one, they are dealing with rapid growth, opening up new markets and introducing innovative products and services.
At the heart of it, it comes down to building an organisation and culture that is nimble and agile and willing to try new things, and that is what Iflix is to me.
Behind the Hack by Mr. Robot campaign
Meanwhile, to reach out to its local subscribers and the general public, Iflix recently launched a marketing campaign called Hack by Mr. Robot that was set to invade customers’ day-to-day life in Malaysia. The campaign was launched across its Iflix webpage, app, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, as well as its billboard advertising across Kuala Lumpur.
The “hack” was carried out in three exciting waves with the first wave kicking off a 24-hour “hackathon” that was packed with insightful and invaluable exposure with Iflix’s most talented and renowned tech developers providing guidance and mentorship.
“We thought to ourselves, let’s bring this world out to the public. Hence, we set out on recreating the experience where control is an illusion. We imagined how the public would feel if an invasion similar to the events that transpired in Mr. Robot occurred in real life,” said an Iflix spokesman.
The campaign included the ‘hack’ and takeover of digital billboards across Klang Valley beginning 21st September with a number of Malaysia’s local celebrities and influencers were “hacked” including Sazzy Falak, Jehan Miskin, Vince Chong and Ann Osman.
Hundreds of followers took the opportunity to be part of this campaign and even participated in the social media contest where they had to provide an interesting caption once they’ve made the switch to the ‘hack’ logo.