News OTT/Video Streaming

Starz Play to release 50 new shows for MENA in 2019

Maaz Sheikh, CEO of Starz Play and Khaled Benchouche, SVP Programming and Acquisitions at the premiere of Vikings Season 5B at Vox Cinemas, Dubai.

Streaming service Starz Play is upping its game in the Middle East and North Africa with the launch of 50 new shows in 2019, Maaz Sheikh, Co-founder and CEO of STARZ PLAY said in a press statement.

Most of the new shows will be exclusive to the Starz Play platform and will air on the same day and time as they debut in the US, Sheikh said.

He also added that blockbuster movies and popular Arabic series will also be added to the portfolio as part of the strategy.

“There is a strong global shift towards OTT subscription services such as Starz Play and this region is no different,” commented Sheikh.

“Independent reports show that Starz Play is the number one OTT provider in the MENA region, with a 26% share of the overall regional market – including Egypt and the Maghreb region of Arab and French-speaking North Africa.

“By 2022, our data and predictions suggest Starz Play will further increase its regional market share to around six million paying subscribers – positioning the brand as the stand-out leader in the OTT streaming segment,” added Sheikh.

The internet-streaming and mobile-based OTT service provider, which already holds the number one spot among regional subscribers, plans to enhance its lofty regional position by releasing up to

Starz Play ended 2018 on a very high note with the addition of the entire catalogue of The Big Bang Theory and the launch of season 5B of cult action-drama series Vikings. The first episode of Vikings season 5B premiered exclusively in Dubai, 24 hours before airing in the US.

Starz Play enjoys strong partnerships with Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Company and other regional mobile providers, offering simple payment options via smart phones and digital devices, making the platform more easily accessible to subscrbers.

Sharing some statistics, Sheikh added that Arabic speakers constitute the majority of Starz Play’s 700,000 users, and 50% of all UAE subscribers are Emirati. Starz Play’s subscribers are 100% Arabic-speaking in Egypt and the Mahgreb, while 85% of its viewers in Saudi Arabia are nationals.

“We have the most on-demand shows offered in the region and provide content we know our subscribers want. The joy of digital is that we can see within half an hour of releasing a new show how popular it is. We listen to our customer needs and our audience want on-demand shows,” said Sheikh.

Starz Play recently signed an exclusive five-year content delivery deal with E-Vision, Etisalat’s IPTV and mobile streaming service; partnered with LG to embed its state-of-the-art video streaming application directly onto LG Smart TVs, and renewed its multi-faceted contract with Disney, extending the partnership to provide viewers with unlimited access to Episodes I-VII of the Star Wars movie franchise.

It also entered into a joint venture with Cinepax , Pakistan’s premier movie exhibition company, in 2018 to launch ‘STARZ PLAY by Cinepax’ – a new service granting subscribers access to thousands of hours of blockbuster hits and Pakistani favourites.