Sam Barnett
Courtesy of MBC Group
United Kingdom
2022

MBC Group

Sam
Barnett

CEO

The boss of the Saudi-owned media company is navigating the difficult transition of going from the MENA region’s top satellite free-to-air player to also being its top premium streamer through its Shahid VIP platform. So far, so good: Shahid VIP has reportedly overtaken Netflix in terms of subscribers in the region. Under Barnett’s watch, the studios arm of Dubai-based MBC is in post on its biggest-ever film production to date, the epic “Desert Warrior,” set in 7th-century Arabia. It is also producing the 10-part fantasy adventure “Rise of the Witches,” the biggest television series to be made in Saudi Arabia, and “Al Maktab,” the first Arabic-language version of award-winning comedy “The Office.” Outside of MBC, Barnett sold his stake in leading Rwandan production company Zacu Entertainment to Canal+ in June. He had helped establish the company in 2020 during a year away from MBC.  

Career

  • MBC Group

Education

  • University of Cambridge (UK)
  • INSEAD (France)

Variety Honors

  • 2021 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

MBC CEO Sam Barnett on Beating Netflix at Streaming, Ramadan Shows, and Pushing Saudi Boundaries (EXCLUSIVE)

MBC CEO Sam Barnett on Beating Netflix at Streaming, Ramadan Shows, and Pushing Saudi Boundaries (EXCLUSIVE)

Dubai-based MBC Group CEO Sam Barnett is navigating what he calls the "difficult transition" of going from being the MENA region's top satellite free-to-air player to also being its top premium streamer.At the start of the holy month of Ramadan, which is marathon TV time in the region after iftar (breaking fast), Barnett spoke to Variety about how the Saudi-owned broadcaster is managing this feat. Edited excerpts.MBC is now operating in both the linear TV and the streaming space. How's...

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