Hearst Leads $133 Million Funding of Asian Streaming Service Iflix

U.S. media group, Hearst has led a $133 million funding round for iFlix . The streaming video platform describes itself as the leading SVoD service for emerging markets.

Other new investors include 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. Including an earlier round, iFlix has raised over $220 million of capital this year.

Iflix began operations in 2015 and is now active in some 19 countries and territories, most in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Operations went live this week in Cambodia, in a partnership with local cell phone operator Smart Axiata, that offers consumers in the country the chance of being billed through their phone bill.

While the company provides few statistical details, it claims subscriber numbers and engagement have grown in the past year by 3x and 2x respectively,. It also claims high average active mobile viewing durations of 2.5-2.75 hours per session. The company claims a 230% growth in year on year revenue.

It said that proceeds from the funding round will be used to invest in its local content strategy, which has to date involved producing 26,000 hours of subtitles in nine languages, with locally-curated content in every market. The company's first exclusive original production, "Oi Jaga Mulut," a stand-up comedy series, from Malaysia is now the leading show on the service. It recently partnered with The Philippines' Queen of All Media, Kris Aquino, to commission an original drama series. In some markets it is also entering sports broadcasting, and recently teamed with TVOne to launch live premiere soccer streaming in Indonesia.

"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," said co-founder and CEO, Mark Britt.

"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," said Neeraj Khemlani, president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.

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