StarzPlay to introduce seven Arabic shows during Ramadan

CEO Maaz Sheikh said the shows will feature big name Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese producers and actors such as Haifa Wehbe, who will star in Karma’s Curse.
Maaz Sheikh
Maaz Sheikh

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Dubai-based online subscription video platform StarzPlay will introduce seven new Arabic shows during Ramadan.

Speaking to Arabian Business, founder and CEO Maaz Sheikh said the shows will feature a mix of Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese producers and actors, including some of the biggest names in the regional film industry such as Haifa Wehbe, who will star in Karma’s Curse.

“There will be brand new shows and episodes every day of Ramadan, and we will have nine shows available on the service,” said Sheikh, adding that whole box sets will be on offer following the end of the series.

Genres for the Arabic TV shows, which will boast Egyptian, Levantine and Gulf dialect, will vary between crime, comedy and drama.

The online subscription video market (OTT) in MENA is expected to increase over 50% by 2020, according to a study by global research firm IHS Markit, which shows it currently stands at around 25% of the Pay TV market in the region.

StarzPlay holds 26% of the OTT market share compared to Netflix’s 16% share and IFLIX’s 11%, giving them the leadership position in the region in terms of revenue, with 28% market share compared to Netflix’s 21%.

Sheikh credited regional partnerships and flexible payment options to their success over competitors.

“For example, credit card penetration is extremely low in Egypt, so we give our customers the option to pay through their credit cards or Orange or Vodaphone mobile bill. In the UAE, customers can pay through Etisalat or Du. Giving customers this payment flexibility is a major differentiator,” he said.

“Netflix doesn’t have a single partnership in the region. Not a single one. We offer customers methods of payments in all markets through every mobile operator whereas Netflix isn’t integrated with a single one. So there are reasons why we are ahead and hopefully we will maintain them and stay ahead of competition,” Sheikh added.

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