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iflix Secures Additional $133m Funding, Led by Hearst

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Iflix, the world’s leading subscription video on demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets, has announced it has completed a $133 million funding round as it continues to deliver on its vision of bringing the world’s best entertainment to its audiences.

The funding round, which attracted significant interest from both new investors and existing shareholders, was led by Hearst, one of America’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, and also included additional new investors Singapore-based EDBI and clients of DBS private bank.

Existing shareholders Evolution Media, Sky PLC, Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT Inc. also increased their investments.

Since going live in May 2015, iflix rapidly established a clear leadership position in emerging markets, setting a new standard for delivering a world-class streaming entertainment service, passionately focused on local customer experiences.

Over the last 12 months, the service has seen extraordinary growth across all segments of the business, expanding from four markets to 19 across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The company has additionally built deep integrated distribution partnerships with 27 leading telecommunications operators to bundle the iflix service with customers’ mobile and data subscriptions, all sponsored by the telecommunications provider.

During the period, iflix also achieved tremendous growth across subscriber numbers and engagement by 3x and 2x respectively, and recorded some of the highest average active mobile viewing durations of any service in the world at 2.5-2.75 hours per session.

The company saw 230 percent growth in year on year revenue, and increased its commitment to localization, producing 26,000 hours of subtitles in nine languages, with locally-curated content in every market.

iflix’s full content library showcases thousands of award-winning and iconic first run programs and library content from over 230 studio partners from 30 countries.

The new round brings total funding raised by iflix this calendar year to an excess of $220 million.

Proceeds from the round will be used to invest in its local content strategy. iflix recently unveiled its first exclusive original production, Oi Jaga Mulut, an audacious, uncensored, no holds barred stand-up comedy series, which since debuting in Malaysia last week, has skyrocketed to the leading show on the service.

Partnering with TVOne, iflix also launched live premiere football streaming, available for the first time in Indonesia, which immediately became one of the highest performing shows there with more than 34,000 unique viewers tuning in the first week of airing. Last week, iflix Philippines announced its collaboration with the Philippines’ Queen of All Media, Kris Aquino, to commission an original drama series.

iflix Co-founder and Group CEO Mark Britt said: “We are thrilled to welcome Hearst President and CEO Steven Swartz and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication President Neeraj Khemlani to the iflix family. As iflix continues to grow and pioneer new ways for consumers to enjoy entertainment on their terms, we were looking for a partner who could bring additional expertise and knowledge to our business.

Hearst is a leading investor and has many of the world’s most innovative and iconic video brands, including ESPN, A+E Networks, Vice, AwesomenessTV, Complex and more. This collaboration significantly deepens our bench of experts with our longstanding partners Evolution Media, Sky and Liberty Global to help drive iflix’s continuing growth.”

“From the beginning, our vision for iflix has been to build a word-class service for the local customer, transforming the way everyday consumers enjoy entertainment in emerging markets. These new funds will allow us to further execute on our local content strategy and expand our technology and development teams so we can continue to rapidly evolve the iflix service to meet the unique challenges of emerging markets,” continued Britt.

Neeraj Khemlani, president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, said: “iflix is riding the wave of exponential growth of the middle class in emerging markets that want more access to premium regional, local and Western content. We look forward to working with our new partners Sky, Liberty Global, Evolution Media and Catcha Group, as well as emerging market telcos, to support iflix’s innovative founders and management team in their rapid expansion plans.”

Founding shareholders Evolution Media and Catcha Group have participated in all preceding capital raisings and further increased their support this round.

Rick Hess, evolution media founder and co-managing Partner, said: “As a founding partner of iflix, Evolution Media, along with Catcha Group and Mark, were inspired by the opportunity to reach the ‘next’ 1bn consumers.

“The phenomenal growth of iflix has challenged many of the preconceptions we have in Hollywood about how entertainment is consumed in emerging markets around the world. It’s fascinating to see iflix learn, scale and forge this new path.”

Patrick Grove, Catcha group co-founder and group CEO, commented: “Today marks the next step in our journey in creating a category defining company that revolutionizes the way people in emerging markets consume and enjoy content. Since launching in May 2015, iflix has consistently delivered an exceptionally high-value service with strong, unparalleled focus on customer experience.”

iflix was advised by Moelis & Company LLC, Delta Partners and Herbert Smith Freehills on the transaction.

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Nigerians Ask NBC to Compel TSTV to Come Clean

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Some Nigerians have asked National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to compel the management of new pay-television, TSTV, to come clean on its business plan for the country.

 

Daily Post reported ever since the TSTV announced its arrival and November 1 take-off date, there has been controversies surrounding its operations, despite earlier excitement about the arrival of the company.

 

It could be re-called that TSTV’s launch was grand, raising a lot of expectations.

 

However, the first major controversy came calling as FOX Network Group (FNG), owners of the FOX television channels, was reported to have denied that it has any agreement with the new pay-television service provider, TSTV, to carry its channels in Nigeria.

 

The position of FNG was made known in a statement signed by Jeremy Griesel of Jeremy Griesel Communications on behalf of FOX Network Group Africa, TSTV’s advertisement of FOX channels on its platform is inappropriate.

 

“Despite advertised claims regarding FOX channels, FOX does not have any agreement with TSTV regarding distribution of channels, but remains confident that TSTV will normalise the situation prior to the launch of its service to ensure the consistency between platform content claims and subscriber expectation,” FOX had said.

 

Following these developments, some concerned Nigerians have asked the company to come clean on its plan for the masses.

 

One of the concerned Nigerians stated that: “The new pay-television provider has been forced to move the commencement of its commercial operations to November 1, a whole month after it promised to roll out. Sales of its hardware also appear to have been suspended. This calls for question.

 

“These developments have no doubt left Nigerians in a doubt on whether the TSTV was indeed prepared to provide the needed competition in the Nigerian market.

 

“In a September 25 post on TSTV’s Facebook page, the company, responding to a question said it will broadcast the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and UEFA Champions League. But when asked about the frequency and the percentage of league games to be shown, no response was issued.

 

“A writer on the TStv Facebook page had called the attention of others to the fact redistribution of sport content is jurisdictional. beIN Max, one of the range of channels being offered airs foreign league matches in the Middle East and North Africa to Arabic-speaking audiences. The company pretended not to see it.

 

“As it stands, it appear that TSTV is trying to get in its excuses early in anticipation of failure to meet the stratospheric expectations it has created. It looks like a victim of its own success at failure.

 

Similarly, another Nigerian, Festus Igeniwari, said: “I maintain that the PayTV industry in Nigeria is a level-playing field for everyone serious and capable enough to offer Nigerians the best value for money in world-class content.

 

“First of all, it is important Nigerians realize that – as a rule – you don’t start off a marathon by sprinting; and when a claim sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

 

“So, we are calling on the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, to as a matter of urgency, tell Nigerians what they need to know as far as the TSTV if concerned. Let Nigerians know exactly what they have come to offer.

 

“There is a lot of confusion and we should not wait until things get too late before the right thing is done. “

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Gov. Ikpeazu Dangles Film Makers with N10m to Shot Films in Abia

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As part of the efforts to develop tourism sites and promote tourism potential in Abia, the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has pledged N10 million as grant for any film shot in the state. Ikpeazu made the pledge when he received Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, the Managing Director, Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), in his office in Umuahia.

A statement signed by Mr. Brian Etuk, Head of Public Affairs, NFC, in Jos on Friday, quoted the governor as saying that the production `should be 100 per cent shot in Abia.’

The statement said the governor charged film practitioners to improve on the quality of their production so as to compete with the global market. It stated that Ikpeazu promised that his administration would participate in the capacity building offered by NFC, saying that Abia played a key role in the revolution of the market and sales of Nollywood movies which has had multiplier effects on the nation economy.

“We have a policy to open up our market to genuine investors, private and public agencies amongst others through promoting `Make in Abia` instead of Made in Abia, proliferating more industries in the state,’’ the statement quoted Ikpeazu.

The statement said, Maduekwe had commended the governor for approving office accommodation for the organisation’s South-East Zonal office in the state.

It noted that Maduekwe said the gesture would create more employment opportunities for the youths, saying that corporation was also working toward establishing two more zonal offices in the North-East and South-South.

NFC currently has three zonal offices in Lagos, Kano and Abuja with headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.

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Ikorodu Agog for Glo Mega Music Tour this Weekend

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The ancient city of Ikorodu in Lagos is agog already as the Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour gets set to hit the city today.

It is the 27th edition of the 27 week-long mega concert that has gone round some of Nigeria’s major cities such as Awka in Anambra State, Aba, Calabar, Asaba, Benin, Victoria Island, Ajah, Ikeja, Benin, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ekpoma, Enugu, Kubwa, Abuja, Suleja, Makurdi, Lokoja, Anyigba, Port Harcourt and Ibadan, where the show was held twice each, Akure, Abeokuta and Ijebu Ode.

The Ikorodu edition is billed to hold at the Ikorodu Musical Village at 4.00 p.m., and will feature some of Nigeria’s most interesting musicians such as the new hip-hop sensation, Axterix, Marvin records queen, Di’Ja, scintillating vocalist, Kiss Daniel, the Nabania crooner, Flavour, the Egberi Papa 1 of Bayelsa, Timaya, and the Nigerian king of pop, Tuface.

Globacom said that in addition to the A-List artistes billed to perform at the concert, the show will also be graced by Nollywood greats such as Juliet Ibrahim and Uche Jombo, who will compere the show, Patience Ozokwor, a.k.a. Mama G, Kanayo O. Kanayo (KOK) and Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) who will be there as celebrity guests.

It is the fifth of such shows happening in Lagos in the current tour of the show. Globacom said this underscores the importance it attaches to Lagos.

Subscribers willing to attend the show need to have recharged their phones with a minimum of N2,000 in the last one month either by way of voice calls or data usage. They then need to send a text message “MUSIC IKORODU”  to a short code 207. They will subsequently be sent a message inviting them to attend the show.

Those who do not meet the criterion are requested to visit the venue with N2000 to purchase Glo recharge card that will entitle them to enter the hall.

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