The Ultimate Streaming Showdown Pt 3: iFlix

Welcome to part 3 of Pop Philtre’s Ultimate Streaming Showdown. In part 1, I explained the parameters and the point system that I will use in evaluating each SVOD. Part 2 focused on an individual evaluation of Netflix Philippines. Part 3 will focus on iFlix.  Just to be clear: the score and evaluation that I will be detailing are based on my experience of iFLIX PHILIPPINES. Catalog and Pricing may be different in other territories.

iFLIX CUPVAL TOTALS

CATALOG

iFlix’s catalog strength lies in the presence of a sizeable Filipino catalog. It has a mix of old and current films and shows from ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5; a treat for any Filipino entertainment buff. In the film side, iFlix offers a mix of mainstream (One More Chance, Dekada ’70, Jologs) and independent (On The Job, Mariquina, Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa) films from the 2000s to the present. I like that it has a selection of Filipino independent films as it gives these films a chance to reach a wider audience. It also has a solid Filipino TV catalog, full series of hit teleseryes like Encantadia, Tayong Dalawa. Even TV5’s Wattpad Series is available. iFlix also offers same-day updates of GMA shows namely Encantadia and Alyas Robinhood.

Being an Asian SVOD service, iFlix also offers a sizeable selection of Asian content from other territories like Thailand, Malaysia, and India.

iFlix also offers a selection of big-name Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows such as Avatar, Adventure Time, Mr. Bean, and Dora The Explorer. Parents don’t need to worry their kids are accessing mature content as iFllix also has a Kids filter.

iFlix may not have top notch Hollywood content but it offers an impressive selection of films and shows. Thanks to its exclusive partnerships with big-name companies like ABC, Fox and Sony, most of the latest popular dramas and comedies are available on iFlix. Think of a US network show, iFlix probably has it. It may not have original content like Netflix, but its pack of exclusive Hollywood content may be enough for some people (current exclusives include Mr. Robot, Fargo, Aquarius). Their complete selection of comedies personally impressed me.

Notable shows include: Friends, Parks & Recreation, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, House

Notable films include: Captain America: The First Avenger, Avatar, Braveheart, Titanic, 27 Dresses
 

New content roughly arrives every month. iFlix is active in sending out email alerts. I often get 5 – 8 email alerts every month either to promote new content or to invite me to watch. You can always unsubscribe from their mailing list if you feel it’s too spammy.

USABILITY

iFlix is above average when it comes to usability. It is viewable on small screens (PC, smartphone or tablet) and just as well in big screens (via PLDT TVolution stick or Chromecast). Its mobile app looks and works the same like its web browser version.

iFlix also has a unique playlist feature wherein you can follow iFlix-created playlists by genre or mood ala Spotify playlists. They also stepped it up by having celebrity-curated playlists that you can follow in case you want to know what’s in the watch list of your favorite celebrities.

Video Playback, although, is mixed. The app lets you choose the video quality of the content you want to download for offline playback. It's also helpful that it includes the download size of the content so you know how much data it will consume. However, online playback can be a jarring experience. Video quality is automatically determined by the app. Which means, depending on your signal strength, the quality of the video you’re watching may fluctuate from HD quality to early 2000s pixelated mobile video quality.

It also doesn’t have a robust recommendations system in place. Recommendations are based on what other iFlix users are watching and not on what iFlix thinks you would like.

But what damages iFlix’s usability is its messy category organization and basic search engine. iFlix categorizes films and shows by genre (action, comedy, drama, etc.) and country of origin (Filipino, Thai, Malay, etc.). That is good. However, instead of separating categorization into those two, iFlix lumped all these subcategories into one menu as if both are mutually exclusive. Searching by category thus becomes confusing rather than helpful. I don’t think “Should I watch action or Thai?” is a decision point. Moreover, it lacks extra filters to narrow down your searches. Good luck trying to find Filipino Comedy movie or a Malay drama show. If that’s not enough, iFlix also lacks a “Hollywood” or “American” subcategory if you just want to check out all the Hollywood film or TV show content.

Its search function is able to track by title, artist, director and genre. But, tagging content is inconsistent. Searching for “batman”, for example, will give you 0 relevant searches even though it has Gotham and The Dark Knight Rises in its catalog. Another example, searching for “Wenn” for, Filipino director Wenn Deramas, will give you the sequels to his Tanging Ina franchise but not the original Tanging Ina. Even though it is in their catalog. The search function also doesn’t give search recommendations to help you find what you’re looking for.

Overall, its service and app work perfectly as long as you know the title of film or show you want to watch. As it stands, its sorting and searching doesn’t prove to be helpful at all.

PRICING

iFlix offers a fixed monthly subscription fee of PhP 129. It is significantly lower compared to a basic cable subscription from SkyCable (Postpaid HD 299) or Cignal (FOX Plan 390). iFlix also gives a discount if you opt for an annual subscription. It also accepts payment either by credit or debit card.

The service also gives more flexibility with pricing and payment if you’re a PLDT or Smart postpaid subscriber. Subscribers pay at a discounted price of PhP 99 a month. They also have the option to include iFlix on top of their monthly PLDT or Smart bill instead of paying directly. This is especially useful for those who do not have or refrain from using their credit cards.

However, its affordable subscription does come with a few caveats. For example, an account is restricted to one profile. Another, is that the service only lets you stream from two screens simultaneously. Lastly, you can only associate 5 devices per account. Which means you can only use iFlix and all of its other features on five specific devices. You need to unregister an existing device if you want to use the app on a new device. Overall, sharing an iFlix account seems to need a little planning for a user.

iFlix offers affordable subscription and different modes of payment. You just have to take note of the restrictions that comes with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

iFlix Philippines is the way to go if you want to dip your feet into SVOD services. It has an affordable buy-in, and has a good variety of Hollywood, Asian and Filipino content. However, its lack of quality films and TV shows, frustrating navigation and search features can be unsatisfying for more experienced SVOD users.