Tencent buys iflix to expand international streaming platform WeTV

Tencent has acquired Southeast Asian streaming service iflix, after media outlets including Nikkei Asian Review reported that the latter witnessed its co-founders Patrick Grove and Luke Elliott resign from the company in April. 

Tencent's spokesperson told A+M that it has indeed purchased iflix’s content, technology and resources and added that "this is in line with its strategy to expand its international streaming platform, WeTV, across Southeast Asia and provide users with international, local and original high-quality content in a wide range of genres and languages."

She added that 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. WeTV, also known as Tencent Video in China, officially made its foray into Thailand last year, adding on to Tencent's other offerings in the country such as music streaming service JOOX. Meanwhile, iflix is currently available in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Brunei, the Maldives, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

"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," the spokesperson said. A+M has reached out to Tencent for additional information about the acquisition value and the impact on iflix's marketing team.

Separately, multiple media outlets including The Star also reported in April that iflix has cut more than 50 individuals. CEO Marc Barnett said that the layoffs come "after careful consideration", along with other cost-cutting measures to ensure the company is able to tide through this period. Barnett also previously said that iflix remains focused on ensuring it breaks even next year. A+M reached out to iflix for comment earlier but has yet to receive a response from iflix.

Last July, it raised more than US$50 million in funding to drive growth ahead of a prospective IPO. While the company did not disclose the final size of the round, it said that the total was “well in excess” of US$50 million. In 2017, it also completed a funding US$133 million funding round led by American media conglomerate Hearst. According to American business platform Crunchbase, iflix has raised about US$348 million to date.

Iflix is not the only company to be impacted during this period. HOOQ Digital, a joint venture company in which Singtel has an indirect 76.5% effective interest in, ceased operations earlier in 2020, five years after its establishment in partnership between Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment. HOOQ's spokesperson told A+M previously that the decision to close HOOQ was driven by structural changes in the OTT video market and its competitive landscape.

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