iflix Thailand spars with pirates




IFLIX THAILAND, has set its goal to at least double the number of subscribers in Thailand next year, thanks to strong local potential for video on demand (VOD), said co-founder and country manager Artima Suraphongchai.

Artima, who is also the first employee of iflix in Thailand, said that her ambition is for iflix Thailand to become the first choice among VOD options with millions of local subscribers.

“We want to be known as the best service with the most extensive content for all types of consumers. Whether consumers want to watch Hollywood, Korean, Thai or Anime [programming], we have something for everyone,” she said.

After just two years since launching, iflix Group can boast tremendous growth with five million registered accounts as of the second quarter this year, with approximately one million accounts in Thailand.

Artima said that iflix’s main mission is to bring the world’s best entertainment to consumers.

“In 3-5 years, I’d like our brand name to be known as the best entertainment service at the best price with millions of subscribers,” she said.

 Artima said that she could see a massive potential in VOD, not only in Thailand but globally.

“I think growth of video-on-demand is driven by many factors. First, by improvement in infrastructure, specifically better and cheaper access to high-speed Internet both on mobile and broadband. The second factor is access to smart devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers. The prices [of internet and smart devices]have come down tremendously in the last few years, enabling consumers to go online anytime they want on their mobile. Finally, there is increased consumer demand for more content on their own terms. Meaning, [they can]watch what they want when they want. These are the factors that fuel the growth of VOD,” she said.

TV watching used to be limited to the living room, Artima said, but the with the public appetite for content on demand, “viewing content has now moved beyond the television and outside the living room [and]we see consumers watching content in coffee shops, and on the Skytrain.”

The key challenge is piracy. It’s difficult to compete with services that don’t charge for content. But they can compete on quality.

“We compete against piracy products by offering fresh content, quality subtitles, quality pictures and the ability of consumers to watch our VOD on any platform – on their mobile, tablet, laptop, and TV.

Speed of access to new content beats that of pirated shows. Members can check out iflix’s exclusive content within 24 hours of its television broadcast in Korea or the US. That includes Korean dramas such as The Bride of Habaek, Strongest Deliveryman, and Revolutionary Love. Or US shows Mr Robot season 3, The Flash, Arrow, or Midnight Texas.

Launches by iflix in emerging markets leveraged several strategies and tools, including: data-driven marketing, a strong focus on local content acquisition, deep telco integration, strategic retail partnerships and celebrity-driven marketing, to name a few.

Artima graduated with a bachelors and masters degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Imperial College of Technology, Science and Medicine, in London, UK. She then went on to a masters in business administration (MBA) from Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University.

“I studied engineering because I enjoyed mathematics and sciences,” she explained. “But after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, many industries including leading electronics companies in Thailand closed down. So I pivoted to apply to consulting firms, where I heard that they did not care which degree you have and only cared that you can solve diverse range of problems in a logical manner.”

That led her to work for The Boston Consulting Group in Bangkok in 1999 for three years before leaving to take an MBA at Sasin in 2002. Upon graduation, Artima joined a boutique consulting company called Claris. In 2009, she left Claris to work in strategy and business development for Novartis, a leading pharmaceutical company, and then a short stint at Big C Supercentre before leaving to start her own business.

“My business Freebie (by Echo 360) was a corporate-sponsored free call service on the cellular network. It was launched in 2012 and gained over 200,000 subscribers. Unfortunately, the economic and political environment was not supportive of such as service so we ended up closing down Freebie at the start of 2015,” she said.

“At the same time, iflix’s recruiter approached me through LinkedIn (yes, serious business opportunities do happen via the platform). As an avid movies and series watcher, I was immediately interested in the service.”

She met with co-founder, Mark Britt and their top management in Malaysia “and immediately thought it was the perfect place for me. It was a great service/product with great people building it.”

Artima joined iflix in February 2015, “and the service went live in September 2015.”


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