Iflix Ends Bangladesh Operation, and Into the Nuances of Video Streaming Narrative
Online video streaming has taken over our life. The ubiquity of handheld devices, access to the internet, consistent push from platforms like Google, Facebook, and digital media platforms, video consumption has shot up in the last decade. Today’s entertainment can be defined by: endless choices, global, and online. TV has long been transformed – in scope and mindset.
These changes in consumer taste and tendencies have given rise to online video-streaming. Over the past few years, Bangladesh has seen a long list of players entering the space. However, while online subscription video-streaming has seen significant growth in many markets across the world including some markets in Asia, Bangladesh remains a fragmented market for video-streaming.
Don’t get me wrong, Bangladeshis do stream online videos. In fact, video streaming is a hot and fast growing trend in Dhaka. Youtube remains one of the most browsed websites in Bangladesh, with people spending a staggering amount of time on the site. There are a number of local and multinational video streaming services in operation such as Grameenphone’s Bioscope, Bongo, HoiChoi, Addatimes, Netflix among others. However, the number of paid subscribers remains limited in almost all these platforms.
Bongo, the vernacular video streaming platform claims to have a large user base. However, the company has been playing with a freemium model, using advertising as a revenue for its free contents. Apart from offering a premium subscription service, the company is also in advertisements, celebrity management, and content deals.
Netflix has a sizable subscribers-base in Bangladesh, north of a couple of hundreds according to several estimates, without having a dedicated local operation.
Grameenphone’s Bioscope, being a leading player in the space, has a premium offering where the platform offers exclusive member only content. While the platform claims excellent overall user growth, paid subscription continues to be a slow progress.
In fact, all three telecom operators have streaming services in some form. Grameenphone has Bioscope, arguably the largest streaming service by any telecom operator, Banglalink has Banglaflix, and Robi has Robi TV.
For Telcos, streaming is more of a means to improving their data revenue performance than an independent business. Innovator’s dilemma continues to affect the growth of teco led initiatives in streaming and other digital services.
Iflix ends Bangladesh operation
Iflix, the Malaysia-based emerging market focused streaming service, entered the Bangladesh market in November 2017 in partnership with Robi. The platform, in fact, was the first proper multinational subscription video-streaming platform having a local team and operation in Bangladesh.
The company tried various strategies to build a lead in Bangladesh. Apart from adding local original content to its content library, it has worked in advertising deals with local companies in an effort to generate additional revenue. But audience growth has been a challenge for the company.
Last week the company announced that after two years and seven months, it would discontinue the Bangladesh operation. The company laid off its entire local team and shut down the office in Dhaka. However, Bangladeshi users can continue to access Iflix service.
Iflix and the narrative and reality of video streaming in Bangladesh
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Ruhul Kader is a technology business and technology policy analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at [email protected]