Fox regional chief reveals plans for OTT play

Fox Network Group Middle East head Sanjay Raina says the successful experience in South East Asia, leave it optimistic about a similar OTT streaming video service in the Middle East
Sanjay Raina, general manager and vice president of Fox Networks Group Middle East.
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Sanjay Raina, general manager and vice president of Fox Networks Group Middle East.

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Fox Network Group will soon bring content to Middle East viewers directly to their smartphones and other devices, the broadcaster’s chief told Arabian Business in an interview.

“We are in the process of working out the details on our own OTT product,” said regional General Manager and Senior Vice-President at Fox Network Group and National Geographic, Sanjay Raina. “We will have our own differentiation and will be able to come out with sometime very soon.”

Over-the-top (OTT) services that deliver content over the internet in a direct to consumer model, are changing the media & entertainment landscape across the globe. In less than half a decade the phenomenon has resulted in a seismic shift in the Middle East’s TV industry with global and regional giants such as Netflix, Starz Play, and Iflix, emerging to pull at least some audiences away from TV channels and cable services.

In August last year, pay-TV operator OSN responded by introduced its own digital service called Wavo, in an attempt to generate revenue from users that weren’t subscribed to its cable services. Fox’s impending entry into the arena is a sign that the industry has more room to grow and is about to become even more competitive.

Fox Networks Group Middle East established in 2008, produces and distributes 15 pay channels and 2 free to air channels across the MENA region.

“The Middle East has more than 300 million people, 60 million TV households, a majority of the population under 40, and an expat audience speaking a variety of languages in a number of countries. So I can’t see how it is saturated,” Raina said when asked where he saw room for a new entrant in the market.

Tests on a similar online streaming product in May last year is providing it room for optimism. Fox+ launched in the Philippines with content in a variety of languages and over 20,000 hours of programming. “We signed up 10,000 subscribers in less than two weeks, which was a great success,” he said.

“There is an opportunity very soon to introduce something similar in the region,” added Raina.

Declining to provide a launch date, he said the service could be out as early as this year.

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