Startup Telly Inks Sony, Miramax Deals for Video-Streaming Service in Middle East and Africa

Telly, a web-video discovery startup, is launching a Netflix-like subscription service in 23 countries in Middle East and Africa, and announced distribution deals with Sony Pictures Television and Miramax to provide content for the service in those territories.

With the Sony and Miramax deal, Telly will offer premium content to subscribers such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Tudors,” “Justified” and “Community,” as well as feature films such as “Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2,” “The Social Network,” “There Will Be Blood” and “The Karate Kid (2010).”

The Telly Plus premium service will start at $12.99 per month, available on the web and via Android and Apple iOS apps (with an updated iOS app to be available by the end of March).

Telly was founded in 2009 as Twitvid, a service that let users post videos to Twitter, and the startup repositioned itself as a video-destination site in 2012. In December 2013, Telly acquired Sha-Sha Entertainment, which had built an SVOD service aimed at the Arab world.

Telly Plus will be available in 23 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

“We’re excited about these markets because the infrastructure is phenomenal when it comes to mobile delivery,” Telly co-founder and CEO Mo Al Adham said. In addition, “the competitive landscape was very favorable — there’s not much SVOD there. We have a lot of users and growth in those regions.”

In addition to the titles from Sony and Miramax, Telly has local content in Arabic and films from Lionsgate, Weinstein Co. and Focus Features licensed through third-party distributors for the Middle East and Africa. For Telly Plus, the company is subtitling films in Arabic, as well.

Telly’s marketing plan is to pitch the SVOD service to the users of its free video service, which curates clips from YouTube and other services. “The big advantage we have is launching in front of a big user base,” Al Adham said.

San Francisco-based Telly has raised about $21 million from investors including Azure Capital Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Felicis Ventures, Cinemagic and Lumia Capital. The company has 16 employees.

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