MBC Group’s video-on-demand (VOD) platform, Shahid, has witnessed a surge in viewers and subscribers in recent months, in line with the Group’s robust growth strategy for the next five years for Shahid.
As of the end of Ramadan 2019, Shahid had 27m unique monthly users, an increase in audience of more than 23% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, the content on Shahid’s platforms has accumulated more than 248m views, an increase of 46% compared to last year on Shahid, and an increase of 62% of Shahid PLUS paid subscribers.
During the month of Ramadan, Shahid added a total of 50 premium programmes and shows to its offering, 28 of which are exclusive to the platform, including popular programmes, such as Al Hayba 3, Zelzal, Dof’at Al Qahera, Weld Al Ghalaba, Khamsa Wa Nos, Al-Asouf 2, Zay Al Shams, and Kalabsh 3 – some of the most talked-about and most popular current TV productions in the region.
Since the beginning of Ramadan, Shahid PLUS subscribers have also been able to take advantage of a big collection of premium content for young viewers, such as Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Kung Fu Panda and more, with catch-up of MBC3 programmes right after airing available for all users even without subscription.
During the first weeks of the holy month, the number of downloads of the Shahid mobile app was up by four times in comparison to regular monthly volumes, despite the fact that for years Shahid has enjoyed the highest mobile app penetration rate in the region, with the Shahid iOS and Android apps installed on more devices than any competitor by a considerable margin, according to the mobile analytics and market data platform, App Annie.
Johannes Larcher, Managing Director, MBC Digital commented: “We announced major changes to our strategy and level of investment in Shahid early in 2019, and our solid performance during the first five months of 2019, including Ramadan, proves that audiences across MENA love where we are taking our service.
“Besides being the undisputed home of the most compelling content for Arabic-language TV lovers, the upgraded technology behind our services has been a key factor of Shahid’s success.”
Since January, Shahid has made significant progress in improving its offerings’ ease of use, viewing quality, speed and reliability of streaming, and discoverability of relevant content for its users. Viewers were particularly pleased with the introduction of ‘Full HD’ streaming and the ability to play Shahid content from their mobile phones on large-screen TVs using newly introduced Chromecast and AirPlay functionality.
“We serve Arabic audiences worldwide, and to better achieve this mission we have recently provided Shahid users outside MENA with the opportunity to access the most popular regular MBC programes, with the first episode of every series available on the service for free, including recently added series and shows for Ramadan 2019,” Larcher said. “As a result, we’ve seen growth of 42% in unique users outside the MENA region by Arab diaspora audiences.’
Larcher also credits a comprehensive marketing strategy as part of the growth of Shahid, stating: “This year, we announced our Ramadan programming grid well before the beginning of the holy month through exclusive promotion on the special portal ramadan.Shahid.net. This was run in parallel with daily interaction with viewers across MBC’s various social media platforms. We also connected viewers with some of the region’s most prominent social media influencers.
Looking towards the second half of 2019, Larcher added: “We aim to further develop and expand our viewership in the coming period, with locally-produced original content created exclusively for Shahid, plus continued efforts to make Shahid more accessible and easier to use for our viewers.”
Based on its performance during Ramadan, MBC claimed that Shahid is the largest premium VOD service in the world outside of China, the USA, and India, and in terms of a pure OTT player, Shahid has a market share of about 85% on premium VOD viewership across MENA.