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Iflix pivots towards ad-supported model as CEO admits original business was ‘superficial’

The chief executive officer of Asian video-on-demand service Iflix has admitted the company’s original business plan was “superficial” as the platform introduces a free-to-air service.

Mark Britt has said the Malaysia-based service will introduce a pre-roll advertising network to sit alongside its subscription-based service after saying he had “naively” believed the Western model would succeed in Asia.

The platform co-founder said: “When we began iflix, we naively believed that the Western entertainment model could easily succeed in emerging markets, and that price, would be the primary customer pain point.

‘Challenging traditional industry metaphors’ – Mark Britt on Iflix’s new business model

“Looking back now, we realise how superficial that view was.”

“Fast forward nearly three years. Having now served 30,000 years of content to more than 12 million customers across 30 markets, we have a much deeper understanding of the localisation requirements, and infrastructure, payments and authentication issues within our territories.

“The data and learnings we’ve acquired from solving these challenges, today enables us to build a product exclusively for emerging market customers and challenge many of the traditional metaphors that exist within our industry.”

Announced today, the new free tier will have 5,000 content assets at launch and 10,000 by the end of the year. These will include a selection of premium regional and international TV series, locally-produced short content and Iflix originals.

In addition, the platform will start showing linear free-to-air and pay TV channels across both its free and paid tiers. However, the company has so far not divulged details of which individual broadcasters would provide this in each of its two-dozen markets.

Iflix has also gained rights to airing live coverage from the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics through its joint venture with its African broadcaster Kwese.

A company spokeswoman said the international tournaments were likely to play on the subscription service. However, live coverage of Football Malaysia will be available on the free-to-air platform.

Alongside pre-roll ads, brands will also be offered product placement options within local and regional content, plus in-app ads.

The announcement follows shortly after Iflix’s decision to close down its Singapore digital hub and move the operation to Kuala Lumpur.

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