Ncell has announced to shut down the iflix service in Nepal under its subscription-based on-demand video service from June 6, 2020. Ncell issued a notice apologizing for the inconvenience caused by the dismissal of the service. Update below with iflix’s clarification.
Iflix is a free subscription video on demand (VOD) service, which has around 25 million active users on its service across 13 countries in Asia. It’s been three years since Ncell launched the iflix service in Nepal. Ncell announced its exclusive partnership with iflix in 2017. Since then, Ncell has been providing various offers and services to its customers based on this service.
iflix quickly gained popularity in the Nepali entertainment market due to its several attractive features. Iflix is a worldwide popular entertainment OTT platform to stream national and international Television shows, series, sports, news, documentaries, movies, and much more. Ncell provided various services for 4G and 3G users and free unlimited streaming with VIP access on the iflix app with access to a vast library of Nepali movies.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that Ncell has launched some app in Nepal and has been abruptly shut down. It has happened before as well.
Before iflix, Ncell introduced the Yonder music app in Nepal. It was a digital music streaming platform that enabled music lovers to have free access to an enormous selection of music both online and offline. Yonder music streaming app was later shut down, not only in Nepal but globally due to some investment and stability crisis.
But, in the case of iflix, they shut down it only in Nepal, for now, with undisclosed reasons.
It is speculated to have been the impact of the coronavirus outbreak that led to this decision. According to a source, Malaysia’s iflix is facing uncertainties due to the spread of coronavirus and has sacked some of its staff members as a cost-cutting measure.
iflix had already closed its middle east operations with similar failure and vowed to focus more on Southeast Asia.
There was a tough competition in the video streaming service for iflix with US-based Netflix and other OTT platforms. If we analyze the active users of these platforms, the increasing popularity of Netflix might be the reason for the downfall of iflix.
Ncell has been promoting local shows to Nepali audiences via iflix but the craze of international shows in other OTT platforms might have backlashed the business model of iflix. Though the pandemic appeared to be boon for some of the streaming platforms, it seems like Ncell had struggled to keep up with the trend for the iflix service. The streaming services have put a huge strain on the ISPs and made the internet very slow.
Ncell expressed their contentment back when they were able to bring such a world-class service in Nepal. But the sudden news of Ncell closing the iflix service in Nepal has puzzled the Nepali iflix users. Ncell hasn’t disclosed the reason behind the decision of shutting down iflix. It seems like the business transition from a free model to the subscription model failed to sustain in Nepal.
It was a platform for Nepali shows and movies to reach its audience conveniently at a reasonable cost. And the free unlimited VIP access had created value for the Ncell users. So this news is neither good for the telecom market nor the Nepali entertainment industry.
As there is still a room for a full-fledged video streaming apps in Nepal (with international and local content), hope they will bring similar services in the future. Everything is becoming tough at the moment, with several layoffs and closure. We can hope for better days ahead.
While the Ncell’s notice makes us believe the iflix platform is shut down in Nepal, but the reality is different. iflix clarifies that the movies, TV series will be still available on their platform. It’s just that the free VIP access to Ncell users has ended. So, for now, you have to buy subscription service for iflix through several digital payments like eSewa, Khalti, Daraz, Prabhu Pay to get access to the videos.