iflix pulls out of Middle East market following Africa exit

Pan-regional streaming platform iflix is pulling out of the Middle East market where it launched two years ago in partnership with Kuwait-based mobile and data services operator Zain. 

“Iflix and its partner, Zain, are working together to complete the wind down of the operations in the Middle East to allow iflix to focus on its core markets in Southeast Asia,” the company said in a statement. No other reason was given for the withdrawal. 

In December 2018, iflix also pulled out of the sub-Saharan Africa market, selling its African business, Kwese iflix, to its local partner, telecoms and pay-TV operator Econet Group. 

News of the Middle East withdrawal came just a few days after iflix announced the completion of its latest round of funding for more than $50m, with investors including global asset manager Fidelity International, along with existing investors Catcha Group, Hearst, Sky and EMC. As previously announced, the streamer has also attracted funding from Korea’s JTBC, Japan’s Yoshimoto Kogyo and Indonesia’s MNC.

Iflix entered the Middle East market in early 2017, initially rolling out its service in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It also started to invest in Arabic-language content, starting with Cairo-set comedy Tough Luck, co-produced by Dubai-based Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC) and Cairo-based Shadows Communications.

Based in Kuala Lumpur, iflix focuses on emerging markets and has a pricing structure that is much lower than global streaming rivals Netflix and Amazon. The service is currently available in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and Bangladesh.