Starz VOD service launches in MENA

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 02 April 2015

Starz Play Arabia, a new premium content subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, is launching in 17 territories across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on 2 April.

stzplay bk rgbThe multi-platform service marks the first international foray by the US pay-TV company and will carry original content from Starz such as Black Sails, Power and Spartacus, as well as TV series and movies from partners including Disney, CBS, Warner Bros and Shine.

The digital platform has been developed in conjunction with Peter Ekelund's Parsifal Entertainment, the Swedish media group that helped launch HBO's online service in Scandinavia.

"Starz Play Arabia is a compelling business opportunity to sell a high quality Starz Play service direct to consumers and, potentially, through incumbent video and telecommunications infrastructure providers as a must-have premium add-on," said John Penney, chief strategy officer, Starz. "Starz will continue to be aggressive and innovative in leveraging its original programming portfolio to identify and establish new, global revenue growth opportunities for the company."

The MENA SVOD service will initially offer subscribers more than 3,000 films and a wide selection of TV series for US$13.99 per month, following a 30-day free trial. Content can be streamed on PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

Maaz Sheikh, former chief sales and operations officer of pay-TV network OSN, has been appointed president and chief operating officer of the nascent regional streaming service.

"Starz Play Arabia has a unique opportunity to fill a market need and offer the growing Internet-savvy population of the region the best in TV and movie content, at an affordable price point, and with high value convenience and control," he said.

"Our content will be presented in a culturally sensitive way and will be a showcase technologically, with a strong consumer value proposition," added Sheikh.

Although it will face competition from local streaming services such as icflix and OSN, international SVOD video giant Netflix is yet to debut in the region, which boasts an estimated population of 370 million.

Starz Play Arabia will be available in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE, as well as Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.