Malaysian-bred video streaming platform, iFlix, has been bought over by Tencent. For the uninitiated, Tencent is Chinese technology company that has interests in the gaming industry, along with media and entertainment. According to a Reuters report, the acquisition comes as part of Tencent’s plan to expand the reach of WeTV—a streaming platform launched in Thailand last year—in Southeast Asia.
While we don’t have the exact numbers behind the deal, Tencent reportedly paid “several tens of millions of dollars” to acquire iFlix’s “international, local, and original content”. This estimate is a far cry from the US$1 billion valuation that iFlix hoped for for an IPO in Australia last year.
In a statement provided to Variety, Tencent highlighted their intentions to dominate the Southeast Asian streaming market:
“The purchase comprises a strong local network across emerging markets with a wide and compelling selection of video content such as TV shows, movies and local originals, to stream or download, on any Internet-connected device. Through the purchase, WeTV will further extend our presence in the video streaming industry across Southeast Asia, to reach a broader audience base within the region and to better serve our users with better viewing experience.”
A lot of that will come via iFlix’s 25 million active users across the region, although Tencent will have to navigate through the Malaysian company’s considerable financial issues first. A 30 percent increase in losses—at US$158 million—during 2018 is indicative of a struggling company, despite a reported 2.5 billion minutes viewed every month. For some context, iFlix has raised almost US$350 million thus far via seven funding rounds, with toal losses amounting to US$379 million.
Despite that, Tencent is a giant in the technology scene, and they are one of the world’s ten most valuable companies—which theoretically stands them in good stead to handle iFlix’s financial problems Share valuation is at an all-time high, while the company boasts a userbase of 650 million thanks to its range of services—including PUBG and JOOX.
Regardless, the Chinese company (and iFlix) certainly have a challenge on their hands. The Southest Asian market is dominated by Netflix, while there are also other providers such as iQIYI. It’s still too early to tell how drastic, or what perceptible changes there will be to the iFlix platform.