Southeast Asian digital entertainment firm Pops Worldwide plans to close a US$50m series D round of funding by the third quarter of this year, its founder and CEO Esther Nguyen said.
The company has raised US$37 million to date, including its 2019 US$30 million series C led by Eastbridge Partners and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, a joint initiative between Mirae Asset Financial Group and Naver Corporation.
Nguyen says that the company wants to accelerate its growth especially in Indonesia, following its launch in the country in September 2020, and to strengthen its direct-to-consumer content. The new fund is expected to allow Pops to open an office in Japan and potentially expand to the Philippines by 2022.
Founded in 2007, Pops Worldwide has a presence in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. According to a press statement, the company records 52 billion views annually and has over 407 million fans to date.
According to Nguyen, the company has three sources of revenue: managing content for third-party platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Apple Music; working directly with brands and agencies; and offering direct-to-consumer content on its streaming platforms.
In 2019, Pops launched Pops App, where users can stream free content such as original series and shows, as well as other videos for music, entertainment, and kids.
The company’s CEO says that Pops does not follow the subscription model but instead focuses on offering free content to users and monetizing content by advertisements.
“If you look at the mass audience in Southeast Asia, they’re not used to paying for content, especially our key demographics: Gen Z-ers and young millennials,” Nguyen adds. “Advertisers look to Pops because we have the scale.”
However, Pops plans to launch POPS Kids Club membership in the coming months, giving members access to exclusive content and educational programs for parents and children.
Southeast Asia’s over-the-top landscape has recently recorded some casualties. In March 2020, Hooq, a video-streaming service backed by Singapore telco major Singtel, filed for liquidation after failing to sufficiently grow and provide sustainable returns. In June of the same year, struggling Malaysian platform Iflix was sold to Tencent.
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