Starz will launch its previously announced Starz Play Arabia OTT subscription service across 17 territories in the Middle East and North Africa on April 2, beating Netflix to the punch in an area with a population estimated at 370 million and a young, highly wired demographic.
Starz Play Arabia service marks the first Starz-branded service outside of the U.S.
Developed and launched in partnership with Swedish media group Parsifal Entertainment, it will comprise flagship Starz shows like “Spartacus,” “Black Sails,” “Power,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” and “The White Queen,” and also a wide selection of Hollywood movie content, including new releases, kids and family-oriented content and programming from local partners. Starz will offer some of its shows to the Arab world day-and-date with their U.S. outings.
Parsifal Entertainment also worked with HBO to launch its online service in Scandinavia.
The SVOD service will be available on PCs and Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices at launch.
“Taking the Starz brand to these markets with the latest video distribution technology represents an innovative opportunity to grow the Starz business,” enthused Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in a statement.
Starz Play Arabia will debut in 17 countries and territories throughout the region with a particular early marketing emphasis on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries where the service is available include Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories and Tunisia.
It will be interesting to watch how Starz Play Arabia fares in the MENA region, which has hundreds of free-to-air channels, some of which air pirated U.S. premium content, and where pay-TV is still struggling. Topper of the operation is Maaz Sheikh, a former exec with MENA pay-TV service OSN.
Sheikh in the statement noted that the service “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.”
“We have aggregated a compelling collection of great original programming including Starz original series and movie content from around the world. Our content will be presented in a culturally sensitive way and will be a showcase technologically, with a strong consumer value proposition,” Sheikh added.