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Streaming service iflix debuts in Cambodia

Smart CEO Thomas Hundt (left) shakes hands with global head of content partnerships of iflix James Bridges during the launch event held yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Smart CEO Thomas Hundt (left) shakes hands with global head of content partnerships of iflix James Bridges during the launch event held yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Streaming service iflix debuts in Cambodia

iflix, Southeast Asia’s largest internet television service, officially launched in Cambodia yesterday, announcing an exclusive three-year partnership with local telecom operator Smart Axiata.

With the launch, Cambodians can now use the online entertainment streaming service on tablets, phones, desktops, televisions and other internet-connected devices. The service’s arrival in Cambodia comes nearly 18 months after US-based streaming giant Netflix entered the local market. In addition to Netflix, iflix will also have to compete with the locally developed programme SOYO, a subscription-based video on-demand (VOD) service from Sabay Digital and the video streaming platform JaiKonTV.

“It is our aim to redefine how Cambodians experience entertainment through groundbreaking features and a seamless mobile experience,” said James Bridges, iflix’s global head of content partnerships.

He said the launch in Cambodia was part of the Malaysia-based VOD service’s expansion into emerging markets, adding that the partnership with Smart – which boasts over 8 million subscribers – would deliver it to as many devices as possible.

First launched in May 2015, iflix has rolled out its service in more than 20 countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, racking up over 5 million members.

Bridges said iflix’s growth in Cambodia would rely on working closely with local television producers to promote original Khmer content, and that the collaboration with Smart would help market the service.

“By providing a new platform for local talent and building a product that is better than piracy, we are committed to growing and supporting the Cambodian film and television industry in the coming months,” he said.

Already, iflix offers its most popular content with Khmer subtitles, with plans to have its entire catalogue subtitled by the end of this year. The company is also working on dubbing popular shows, especially dramas, into Khmer.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said there is an increasing trend towards digital lifestyle choices. He said the mobile operator was committed to promoting local content through iflix and hopes to combat illegal copying of movies and television shows through the partnership.

“If people go to buy a pirated DVD, the price is $1.50,” he said. “Piracy is not good for local content at all. If people are not willing to spend some money, then nobody will be able to produce movies.”

Smart subscribers will be offered a three-month free trial of iflix, after which subscriptions will cost $3 per month. General subscribers are eligible for a one-month free trial.

In addition to its streaming service, users can use the “download and watch offline” feature, allowing customers to download shows and movies to their devices to watch when they are not connected to the internet, the company said.

Heng Souny, a fan of Korean drama and television shows, said yesterday that she downloaded iflix immediately after she learned that she could stream shows to her smartphone. For her, paying $3 per month appeared reasonable and affordable.

“The best thing is that I can access my favourite Korean movies with Khmer subtitles or Khmer dubbing,” she said. “The cost for the service is like a cup of brand-name coffee.”

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