OTT service provider StarzPlay is aiming to consolidate its dominant regional market share over the next four years, following a record-breaking year of subscriber uptake and new, or renewed, multi-region partnerships in 2018.
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 50 new shows in 2019, according to Maaz Sheikh, Co-founder and CEO of STARZ PLAY.
Vitally, most of the new shows catalogue will be unique to the StarzPlay platform and will air on the same day and time as they debut in the US, said Sheikh, adding further blockbuster movies and popular Arabic series are also a focus for StarzPlay next year.
“There is a strong global shift towards OTT subscription services such as StarzPlay and this region is no different,” said Sheikh. “Independent reports show that STARZPLAY is the number one OTT provider in the MENA region, with a 26 per cent 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 StarzPlay 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,” says Sheikh.
With breadth and quality of content remaining the primary conversion factors in regional consumer preferences, StarzPlay continued to expand its first-to-market reputation for exclusive series in 2018. The platform added the entire catalogue of The Big Bang Theory, including the hit comedy’s final season, to its listings in September, before launching season 5B of cult action-drama series Vikings, a leading TV Series. The first episode of Vikings season 5B premiered exclusively in Dubai, 24 hours before airing in the US.
STARZ PLAY attributes the rapid rise of its customer base to a combination of factors. Firstly, the overall experience – the quality of the service – is extremely high, available in 4D with no delay or buffering; while ease of use, convenience of the user interface and ease of payment have all been instrumental in the service’s meteoric regional rise.
“Thanks to our strong partnerships with Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Company and other regional mobile providers, we offer simple payment options via smart phones and digital devices,” added Sheikh.
At 80 per cent of all STARZ PLAY subscribers, Arabic speakers constitute the majority of its 700,000 users, while 50 per cent of all UAE subscribers are Emirati. STARZ PLAY subscribers are 100 per cent Arabic in Egypt and the Mahgreb, while 85 per cent of its Saudi audience 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.
This year, the OTT provider 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.
STARZ PLAY 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.