‘Mobile first’ strategy drives iflix growth

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2018 03:49 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2019 07:32 PM

Sherwin dela Cruz, iflix country head for the Philippines, speaks during a company event. Handout photo

MANILA - A strategy that makes smartphones and other mobile devices a priority has helped drive the phenomenal growth of subscription video streaming service iflix, its top Philippine official said. 

Sherwin dela Cruz, Philippine country manager of iflix, said that since the service’s launch in 2015, iflix has grown its base of active users to around 800,000 today, and they are looking to boost this to around 3 million in the next few years. 

Dela Cruz said that aside from their strategy of offering locally produced shows, iflix has also taken note of how Filipinos consume content, and this was mostly on mobile devices such as smartphones.

“We believe it’s a ‘mobile first’ if not a ‘mobile only’ country,” Dela Cruz said in an exclusive interview with ANC’s The Boss. 

Dela Cruz said they bet on mobile by partnering with PLDT-Smart during their launch, as well as Samsung. This allowed them to get 200,000 subscribers in just the first two months.

He revealed that the Philippines has one of the most active iflix subscriber bases in the region.

“Filipinos watch on average 210 mins per day, that’s actively watching; so closest would be Indonesia with maybe 140 mins,” he said. 

One reason for this, not surprisingly is the traffic in urban areas like Metro Manila. 

“Filipinos have a lot of time on their hands, probably also because of the traffic, probably because they do spend a lot of alone time watching their own content .”

To compensate for the country’s slow internet speeds, iflix had to come up with technical work-around in streaming video. 

One such work around is tailoring a video’s quality to the device it will be streamed to. Iflix sends the smallest files possible to devices such as the iPhone 4 and its Android equivalents. Medium quality files meanwhile are sent to iPhone 6 or equivalent Android devices, while the highest quality files are sent to TV streaming devices. 

The company also reduces latency by having all local content streamed from servers located in the Philippines itself. 

This ‘mobile first’ strategy along with ‘hyperlocalization’ is expected to propel iflix to faster growth, Dela Cruz said.

All of this requires a lot of investment and Dela Cruz admitted that it would take some time before iflix started breaking even. For now, the company is focusing on growth. From an initial 5 territories when it launched, iflix is now available in 25 territories.