Asia's Video Streaming Giant Adds Japanese Flavor

The region's leading video streaming platform iflix has joined hands with Japan's largest entertainment conglomerate

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By Pooja Singh

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In the past four years, iflix has established itself as the world's leading entertainment service for emerging markets, with strong presence in over 20 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Now, it is tapping the Japanese audience.

Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd, Japan's largest entertainment conglomerate, has announced an investment in iflix. The value of the transaction hasn't been disclosed nor has the size of the equity stake, though the two companies described it as "strategic" and "significant."

Founded in 2015 by Malaysia-based Catcha group, iflix offers movies and television shows, along with subtitles, at an affordable cost, with content coming from more than 100 studios and distributors, including Disney, Paramount, Sony, the BBC and Media Prima.

It offers users two tiers of usage and is available in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Maldives, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Morocco. The platform has received investment from European satellite broadcaster Sky ($45 million in 2016). Among the other contributors are Kuwait's Zain Group, and Los Angeles-based Evolution Media Capital.

Expansion Ahead

This joint venture marks Osaka-headquartered Yoshimoto Kogyo's first investment in overseas media. The conglomerate has been actively promoting Asian development for the last few years. In 2014, the company established MCIP Holdings in Indonesia as their base of Asian strategy and started the "Living in Asia Comedians" program, which has Yoshimoto comedians living and working in seven Asian countries. In April last year, it announced the establishment of the Okinawa Asia Entertainment Platform, an integrated national platform for distributing various types of content on the Internet.

Yoshimoto Kogyo and iflix's joint venture out of Singapore will showcase the former's most popular content across territories in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the corresponding distribution of iflix's content in Japan. It will also produce localized versions of proven content formats out of Japan, to expand iflix's original content offering.

Mark Britt, iflix co-founder and group CEO, believes the partnership will be "an incredible opportunity to deliver a uniquely localized product for audiences based on proven Japanese comedy formats with mass appeal. Yoshimoto Kogyo has set the standard for popular, culture-defining millennial comedy content. We are thrilled to collaborate with them to experiment, explore and create new content to cater to a mobile-savvy, discerning global iflix audience."

The content to be provided to iflix will be popular Japanese programs that will be localized for Asian countries (think anime, drama, movies, variety, and comedy, etc.), and in the future, it hopes to develop all-Japan original content including programs and films for an Asian market.

Target: Millennials and Gen Z

The deal underscores iflix's growing focus on developing and creating highly-engaging hyper-local programming specifically for millennial and Gen Z generations, the majority of which come from emerging and developing markets in Southeast Asia, and Yoshimoto Kogyo's mandate to promote the export of Japanese content and formats to younger international audiences.

Hideaki Shimizu, vice president of Yoshimoto Kogyo, says investing in significant media in Asia will be a big step for the company's Asian strategy.

Pooja Singh

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

 

A stickler for details, Pooja Singh likes telling people stories. She has previously worked with Mint-Hindustan Times, Down To Earth and Asian News International-Reuters. 

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