News OTT/Video Streaming

MBC to pump more investment into digital, announces new appointment to helm VOD platforms

From left: Johannes Larcher and Sam Barnett.

MBC Group has confirmed plans to prioritise its digital services with a robust investment strategy for the next five years under Johannes Larcher, who has recently joined MBC Group as Managing Director of its Digital & VOD (video-on-demand) websites. At the core of MBC’s digital strategy is a comprehensive growth plan focused on the Group’s VOD platforms, Shahid and Shahid Plus, with plans to launch a series of new offerings and initiatives that include “Shahid Original” productions, global content acquisitions, product and technology investments as well as partnerships with leading participants.

Larcher will be responsible for enhancing MBC Group’s entire digital offering, including its Shahid and Shahid Plus services, with the aim of creating an improved Shahid service for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Speaking about MBC Group’s digital plan, MBC Group CEO, Sam Barnett stated: “We reach 140m  viewers every day across the Middle East, both through our satellite television channels and online through our video on demand service, Shahid. And as audience habits evolve, we are evolving with them. What remains fundamental to our business is the ability to produce, package and deliver content of the highest quality to people all the way from Morocco in the West across North Africa, to Egypt and then to the Levant, Iraq and then the Gulf. Shahid combines the very best of our pan-Arab television premium content and the local content that delights audiences in all of the 23 countries in the region.”

Barnett further added: “Johannes joins us to lead the next stage in our development plan for Shahid. We are already a destination for the best Arabic content. Now our challenge is to boost the volume of premium video content both from MBC Studios and further afield, to upgrade our technology and to extend our distribution. Johannes brings a wealth of experience to our venture and we’re very excited to welcome him to the Group.”

Larcher added: “The MENA region’s increasingly digital consumers represent tremendous opportunities for innovation and growth in online video. Shahid’s goal is to become the most beloved premium digital video service in MENA. With MBC Group’s support and based on our deep and decades-long understanding of the modern Arab viewer, Shahid will be making its first investments into originally produced, exclusive and cutting-edge content in 2019, which will stream alongside our compelling line-up of regional and global licensed movies, dramas, comedies and family content. In addition, we are embarking on a programme to upgrade the quality of our product and technology to best-in-class levels so that viewers can enjoy an intuitive and friction-free experience whenever, wherever and however they watch Shahid. We are also committed to making Shahid accessible and more attractive to more viewers by partnering with distribution, content and other media ecosystem partners from the region and across the globe.”