iflix, Zain form joint venture to launch MENA service

Southeast Asian SVOD platform iflix has formed a joint venture with Kuwait-based mobile operator Zain to launch its services across the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.

Headquartered in Dubai, the joint venture, iflix Arabia, says it will offer an extensive collection of Arabic-language films and TV shows, and also plans to produce original Arabic content. The new service will also stream “the best of Hollywood and Bollywood”, along with more than 2,000 episodes of children’s content.

Subtitled in Arabic and English, the service is launching in the second quarter of 2017 in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, with plans to expand into additional markets in the region.

Kuala Lumpur-based iflix has become an emerging markets specialist since its launch in May 2015, with a focus on local programming, competitive pricing and technology that enables the service to stream smoothly on low internet speeds.

Currently claiming 4 million subscribers, the service launched in Pakistan in January 2017 and was previously rolled out in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brunei and the Maldives. Last year, the company secured $45m in investment from UK pay-TV giant Sky.

Zain, which has 47 million active customers, has a commercial presence in eight countries (Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and South Sudan). In Lebanon, it manages mobile operator touch on behalf of the government and in Morocco has a 15.5% stake in INWI, through a joint venture.

Zain group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said: “What distinguishes iflix is its constant innovation and commitment to offering its customers an exceptional and entertaining digital experience, which is at the heart of what Zain stands for. We look forward to bringing our 47m customers and regional mobile operations into the iflix footprint.”

Iflix Arabia is headed by John-Paul McKerlie, who was previously group consumer marketing director at Zain.