×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Iflix Makes Splash in Middle East With First Arabic Original ‘Tough Luck’

Egyptian sitcom features more than 40 Arab A-listers

Six months after launching into the Middle East expanding streaming service iflix is making a splash with its first Arabic online original, a Cairo-set comedy of errors titled “Tough Luck” packed with local stars.

After launching on iflix during Ramadan this past May, “Tough Luck,” which is set in a run-down Cairo tenement where residents are struggling with a crumbling wall, scooped the nod for the year’s best OTT production during Dubai’s annual Arab States Broadcasting Union BroadcastPro ME Selevision Summit this weekend.

The nods celebrate broadcasting industry excellence in the Middle East and North Africa.

Co-produced by iflix with Dubai-based Front Row Filmed Entertainment, the Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC) and Cairo-based Shadows Communications, the sit-com features dozens of Arab A-listers such as Egyptian stars Sharif Ramzi, Ahmed Helmy, Mona Zaki, Fify Abdo and Jordan’s Mai Selim.

The show is being touted as a game-changer for several reasons. It signals a shift in the Arab scripted content landscape which has been dominated by free TV and pay-TV, especially during the peak Ramadan period; it brought a new OTT player, iflix, together with a prominent indie film distributor, Front Row; and it marks the first time an Egyptian series comprises more than 40 of the Arab world’s biggest stars.

Popular on Variety

“We are humbled and thrilled to receive this special award from Broadcast PRO Middle East, the region’s most eminent industry body,” said Nader Sobhan, head of iflix MENA, commenting the nod for “Tough Luck” in a statement. Sobhan vowed that more local iflix original productions will be coming soon.

Front Row chief Gianluca Chakra noted that “the region is hungry for local original content,” adding that his company is currently developing several projects with new Middle East talents focussed on “challenging and thought-provoking material” in an effort not just to attract new viewers in the region but also to create an international appetite.

Lack of localisation is considered a key factor stunting the growth in the Middle East of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which also launched in 2016 in the region where both are struggling to rack up subscribers. The two global streaming giants together will account for a mere 21% of the MENA market in 2017, according to a recent report from from IHS Markit.

Since launching in the Middle East in 2016 the only Arabic original announced so far by Netflix is a stand-up comedy special with Lebanese comedian and actor Adel Karam.

Iflix launched in Asia in 2015. positioning itself as a low-cost alternative to Netflix in emerging markets. With a subscriber base of just under 5 million and a $90-million infusion from such investors as Sky and Liberty Global, Iflix in May expanded into the Middle East and North Africa through a joint venture with Kuwait-based telco Zain.

More Digital

  • Cenk Uygur

    Bernie Sanders Retracts Endorsement of Young Turks Founder Cenk Uygur After Backlash

    Bernie Sanders pulled his support for Cenk Uygur’s congressional bid, with the Vermont independent in part acknowledging that Sanders’ supporters were “frustrated” about the endorsement. Sanders, who’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, cited Uygur’s announcement Friday that he would not be accepting any endorsements. In a statement, Sanders alluded to sexist and other [...]

  • Tana MongeauStreamy Awards, Arrivals, The Beverly

    Streamy Awards 2019: The Complete Winners List

    The 9th Annual Streamy Awards — honoring the best from YouTube and online video — were held Friday night in Beverly Hills. Tana Mongeau (pictured above) was named Creator of the Year and Rhett & Link’s “Good Mythical Morning” won Show of the Year in the two fan-voted Audience Choice categories. David Dobrik picked up [...]

  • NBC News - Quibi

    NBC News Digital Workers Form New Union

    A group of approximately 150 editorial workers who help produce some of NBC News digital content have formed a union, citing a desire to push their employer to work more seriously through such issues as equal pay and the recent handling of sensitive stories. Editorial employees of NBC News Digital won certification of their union [...]

  • Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    The Fox Nation streaming-video service has long been touted as a new option for super-fans of the Fox News Channel. But some of the broadband hub’s new programming choices suggest adherents of “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity aren’t looking solely for chatter about politics and interviews with members of the Trump administration. Subscribers to [...]

  • Facebook

    FTC May Stop Facebook From Integrating Whatsapp, Instagram

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is weighing whether it should seek an injunction against Facebook to prevent the social media giant from integrating services like Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram with its core app, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Regulators fear that Facebook’s app integration plans could make [...]

  • Ivanka Trump

    Ivanka Trump Reportedly Set to Speak at CES 2020

    Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and an adviser to the president, is scheduled to appear on a panel at CES 2020 in January, according to a published report. Ivanka Trump will appear on a panel set for Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. at the Las Vegas confab with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content