After a long, long wait, the American video streaming site Netflix has finally arrived in Malaysia. Many Malaysians are so happy with this development that they’ve stated that iflix is now on life support.
This brings us to the question: Is Netflix actually better than iflix?
Well, we’re going to compare both streaming services against each other to find out if that really is the case. The factors that we’ll be taking into account includes the pricing, library, quality and presence of censorship in both services. So without further ado, lets begin.
Let’s start with the main barrier of entry : the pricing. As you can see, between iflix and Netflix, iflix has the cheapest subscription price, only requiring RM10 per month to access its service. If you subscribe to iflix for a year, you’ll pay a sum of RM96. When you divide RM96 between 12 months, it comes down to RM8 per month. The best part of iflix is that there is no tiering system, meaning you’ll be able to access everything that iflix has to offer for a flat fee. At any one time, you can stream two seperate shows on one account, effectively allowing you to share your iflix account with another person besides yourself.
For Netflix, a tiering system is present. This means that the price of a subscription is based on which tier you select. The Basic tier costs RM33 per month, the Standard tier costs RM42 per month, and the Premium tier costs RM51 per month. This tiering system affects the amount of content you can stream at any one time as well, with Basic only allowing a single stream, Standard allowing two seperate streams, and Premium allowing four different pieces of content to be streamed at any time.
The most important aspect of a streaming service is the size of their content catalogue. In that regard, iflix and Netflix excels at different areas. On iflix’s side, the service features a respectable amount of Western content. It features quite a number of recent television shows from the United States as well as a reasonable selection of movies from Hollywood. Where iflix truly shines however, is in its Asian content. The service provides a rather hefty amount of Chinese, Malay, Filipino, Tamil and Korean content on it, which is great for those who enjoy it.
On Netflix’s side, the service trumps iflix in the Western content department. Netflix features more Hollywood movies and TV shows when compared to iflix, which is a given since Netflix is an American service. On top of that, Netflix Malaysia does get access to some, but not all, of the Netflix original shows and movies. Movies like the Ridiculous 6 and Beasts of No Nation are availble to Malaysians, but unfortunately, House of Cards is nowhere to be found on the service. This brings us to the fact that Netflix does impose region locking on its library because content licensing is much more complicated than the 1MDB money trail. Also worth mentioning is the fact that you could actually access another country’s Netflix library with your Malaysian subscription. If you have a VPN at hand, you can actually set it to access another country’s Netflix content. Let’s get back to the Malaysian Netflix for now. Where Malaysia’s Netflix falls, is in the regional content. When compared to iflix, Netflix doesn’t really have many, if any, local content. Sure there’s the odd Bollywood show here and there, but the local Netflix service lacks Korean, Chinese and Malay content.
In summary, iflix has better local content and Netflix has better Western content. Neither have any sports content so Astro remains relevant.
Next up is the video quality available in the services. For iflix, the content available peaks at 720p. The company has mentioned that they intend to add HD support sometime in the future, but until then, they don’t have 1080p content at this point in time. Subtitles are available on iflix, but it is not present on all content.
Netflix’s content quality is a bit more complicated due to its tiers. If you want access to HD content, you’re going to need a Standard subscription at minimum. If you have a Premium subscription, you’ll be able to gain access to Ultra HD content. As for subtitles, all content that we have gone through thus far have, at the very minimum, English subtitles. Some of the more recent additions to the service includes Chinese, Korean and even Arabic subtitles.
I’m not sure how important censorship is for others, but for me personally, censorship is a factor I take into account when I decide to subscribe to content streaming services. In this area, I am certain that iflix does censor their content, as they did remove the “Hallelujah” scene from the Watchmen movie.
For Netflix, censorship isn’t a factor. I know this because I’m pretty sure our government would not allow movies like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange to be viewable without being heavily edited. Now that I mentioned that, you CAN watch A Clockwork Orange in all its full “Singing in the Rain” glory. The company has since confirmed that no censorship of any kind will be applied to the service, which would probably make this service “haram” to certain groups of people.
Many have been quick to say that iflix is now no longer relevant as Netflix is the better service. I don’t exactly agree with that sentiment. While there is no denying the fact that Netflix does have a stronger Western catalogue, iflix does have a better regional catalogue. There is also the fact that iflix is a MUCH cheaper service than Netflix.
In my opinion, iflix isn’t as irrelevant as some people may like to think. If nothing else, iflix is a good starting place to introduce the concept of online video and movie streaming to other people. If you prefer your Korean dramas instead of Hollywood movies, iflix offers a better catalogue for that as well.
Simply put, iflix isn’t quite on suicide watch just yet, but they really need to ramp up their library of content as well as implement HD content if they want to remain relevant.