Rise Studios Partners With Parrot Analytics on Data

Rise Studios, a company driving investment in the MENA entertainment industry, has announced a partnership with data analytics company Parrot Analytics.

Parrot will help drive data-driven decisions as Rise looks to streamline its content creation and distribution strategy, according to a company press release.

“By leveraging Parrot Analytics’ industry-leading TV demand product and data analytics teams, Rise Studios will make informed decisions to optimize content performance across various platforms,” the press release stated. “The partnership allows Rise to have a thorough understanding of regional audience demand and preferences, enabling them to develop more impactful and engaging content.”

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“Ensuring that our work is supported with insightful and meaningful data combined with our industry knowledge is important for us as a business,” Amanda Turnbull, CEO of Rise Studios, said in a statement. “We are delighted to partner with Parrot Analytics, who are specialists in global audience analytics and content valuation, enabling us to make informed decisions for our content creation and distribution strategy.” 

“Parrot Analytics is thrilled to partner with Rise Studios to drive innovation in the entertainment industry throughout the Middle East. Combining our data-driven approach and insights with Rise Studios’ creative and platform expertise, we believe will result in transformative content that captivates and engages the audience,” Laurine Garaude, Parrot Analytics’ EMEA partnerships director, said in a statement.

Disney+ Streaming Service Launches Operations in 16 Middle East, North African Countries

Disney+ on June 9 officially launched subscription streaming video operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned SVOD service — which ended the most recent fiscal period with 137.7 million subscribers, including more than 50 million in India — launched service in the United States in November 2019.

Subscribers will be able to access up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on as many as 10 devices, and the ability to set up seven different profiles. Parents also will be able to set children profiles so that they can only access age-appropriate content.

Disney+ will expand into select Eastern European countries on June 14.

The pricing structure for Disney+ in the Middle East and Africa:

Market Currency MONTHLY ANNUAL
Algeria DZD 399.99 3998.99
Bahrain USD 8.99 88.99
Egypt EGP 49.99 498.99
Iraq IQD 4999.99 49998.99
Jordan JOD 2.99 28.99
Kuwait USD 8.99 88.99
Lebanon USD 4.49 43.99
Libya USD 2.99 28.99
Morocco MAD 33.99 328.99
Oman USD 8.99 88.99
Palestine USD 6.99 68.99
Qatar QAR 29.99 298.99
Saudi Arabia SAR 29.99 298.99
Tunisia USD 3.49 33.99
UAE AED 29.99 298.99
Yemen USD 2.99 28.99


StarzPlay SVOD Service Adds South Asian Channels in Deal With Star TV

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region SVOD service StarzPlay has signed a deal with Star TV network to feature six of its entertainment channels, expanding into the South Asian entertainment segment.

StarzPlay has introduced an all-new dedicated South Asian entertainment package that features Star Plus ME, Star Gold International, Jalsha Movies, Asianet Movies, Star Vijay International and Asianet ME channels.

“Over the years, we have built strategic partnerships to offer rich and relevant content to our diverse audience,” Maaz Sheikh, CEO of StarzPlay, said in a statement. “Our latest association with Star TV network is an expansion of our content offering as we enter the Asian entertainment space which is hugely popular and loved in this region. This new deal is dedicated to our South Asian subscribers who can enjoy the very best of TV entertainment with our new package. Star TV is a much-loved TV network in the region, and we are proud to associate with them to further expand their reach across the MENA region.”

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“We are delighted to associate with StarzPlay to offer world-class entertainment to South Asian audiences in the region,” Sudhir Nagpal, SVP and head of international business at Star India, said in a statement. “The MENA region has a large number of South Asian expatriates, and we are excited to bring our compelling and multi-lingual portfolio through the region’s leading streaming service — StarzPlay. We constantly explore opportunities to reach our audiences through new avenues and this association with StarzPlay is a step further to reach out to viewers across the Middle Eastern region.”

Subscribers can find an assortment of multi-lingual programming via the six new Star TV channels. Three cricket channels, CricLife Max, CricLife and CricLife 2, that StarzPlay already has access to through a separate deal with Etisalat also will be part of this package.

Starzplay Available Through Apple TV in Middle East, North Africa

Starzplay, Starz’s video-on-demand streaming service, is now available to customers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through Apple TV channels on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, and select Samsung and LG smart TVs.

The service offers Hollywood and Arabic movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and original content. Customers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt can sign up for a seven-day free trial and subscribe directly to Starzplay on the Apple TV app for $11 per month (prices vary by region).

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“Online streaming in the region is growing faster than ever,” Danny Bates, CCO and co-founder at Starzplay, said in a statement. “As the region’s leading video streaming service, we constantly look for innovative avenues to offer quality content to hungry audiences. Offering Starzplay through Apple TV channels will open up a whole new customer base and further drive the growth of the video streaming market in MENA. We are proud to be the first major content partner for Apple TV channels in the MENA region and look forward to unveiling more compelling content on the platform.”

Subscribers through Apple TV channels can watch online on demand or watch offline downloads of on the Apple TV app. With Family Sharing, up to six friends or family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using just their Apple ID and password.

Anthem Sports & Entertainment’s Fight Network Inks Wider Distribution in Middle East

Anthem Sports & Entertainment’s Fight Network combat sports streaming channel has signed an expanded distribution agreement with SAWA Rights Management for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

Anthem, which recently acquired AXS TV and HDNet Movies from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, will now deliver Impact Wrestling, KSW and Fight Nights Global, Combate Americas and World Lethwei Championship across the MENA market. Fight Network previously had distribution on DU, an over-the-top video platform in Dubai UAE.

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“Combat sports have enjoyed a significant increase in popularity with viewers around the world, cementing the medium as a true global phenomenon,” Ariel Shnerer, GM of Fight Network, said in a statement.

Fight Network features more than 300 hours of live fights from promoters across the globe. The channel also offers original programming, documentary features and unscripted series. Fight shows include “Retrospective,” “Diary,” “In 60” and “After The Fight,” as well as a roster of classic fights and compilations, and events such as “Boxing World Weekly,” “Total Combat” and “Impact Wrestling,” a professional wrestling competitor to WWE.

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Discovery, StarzPlay Partner for SVOD Distribution

Discovery and StarzPlay March 16 announced a partnership that will see the former’s Dplay streaming video service available across the Middle East and Asia (MENA) on StarzPlay, Starz’s international SVOD based in Dubai with more than 1 million subscribers.

The agreement affords StarzPlay subs access to thousands of hours of content, segregated into playlists dedicated to specially curated interest verticals — including crime, lifestyle, food, wildlife and more. New content will be added to the platform each month.

Discovery TV franchises include “Shark Week,” “MythBusters,” “Gold Rush,” “Expedition Unknown,” “House Hunters International” and “Say Yes to the Dress,” among others.

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“This is the first time Discovery is taking its content beyond the pay-TV universe in the region and opening it up to a whole new customer base,” Amanda Turnbull, GM, Discovery Middle East & Africa, said in a statement. “As we commence our pivot toward digital, this milestone sets the benchmark for Discovery’s continued growth in the digital space.”

Following a free trial period of up to one-month (varies across the region), monthly subscription to the content costs AED/SAR15 ($4) per month as an add-on package.

“With this partnership we are starting a new chapter in company’s growth to become the one-stop shop for premium content,” said Danny Bates, chief commercial officer of StarzPlay.”

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Dplay will be available in Q2 2020, through existing StarzPlay apps, including Apple TV. StarzPlay is available to download online and via respective iOS and Android app stores.


StarzPlay Streaming Marvel Movies Ahead of Disney+ Euro Debut

Disney’s subscription streaming service is coming to Europe and other regions outside the United States. But Lionsgate’s StarzPlay is already streaming Marvel movies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Due to pre-existing arrangements, Marvel superhero titles such as Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3; Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Avengers: Endgame are all available on the $8.99 monthly service.

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Disney and Starz last year made a marketing deal enabling Starz-licensed Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be available instead on Disney+ when it launched on Nov. 12, 2019.

Before the launch of Disney+, CEO Bob Iger told analysts the company was “encumbered” by licensing arrangements it had with a number of different distributors, notably Netflix and Starz.

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Netflix Driving SVOD Growth in Middle East, North Africa

Netflix may be a mature business in the United States, but worldwide, the SVOD pioneer remains a driving force for subscription streaming video — especially in the Middle East and Africa.

New data from Digital TV Research estimates that by 2025, SVOD revenue in the Middle East and North Africa will reach $2.97 billion — up from $897 million in 2019. SVOD revenue will triple between 2019 and 2025. Turkey will total to $908 million by 2025, with Saudi Arabia adding $563 million and Israel $470 million.

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Netflix will generate 38% of the 2025 total (with its subscriber base doubling from 2019), followed by Lionsgate’s StarzPlay (23%) and Disney+ (11%, despite only starting in its first Arabic country in 2022). These three platforms will generate three-quarters of the Arab total by 2025.

Indeed, of Netflix’s 8.8 million net new subscribers in the fourth quarter 2019, more than half originated outside the U.S.

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“We forecast 29.63 million SVOD subscriptions by 2025, up from 12.25 million recorded at end-2019,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in a statement. “Collectively, the 13 Arabic-speaking countries will overtake Turkey’s subscriber count in 2025.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Europe, the Middle East and Africa had 47.4 million Netflix subs as of Sept. 30, compared with 19.7 million March 31, 2017. Revenue during that same time period grew to $4 billion.

Netflix ended 2019 with 167 million subscribers worldwide.

Netflix Dominating Middle East, African Markets

Netflix’s market share remains unmatched in the United States. Since its global launch in 2016, the SVOD pioneer has been replicating that dominance worldwide – including in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region covering 20 countries.

New data from Digital TV Research found that Netflix had 1.8 million (36%) subscribers in the MENA region at the end of 2017 – 10 times more than Amazon Prime Video and three times more than Lionsgate-owned Starz Play.

That tally is expected to increase to 7.4 million (37%) subs by 2023. The MENA region will have 20.8 million SVOD subs by 2023, up from the 5.2 million subs in 2017.

Netflix will have 3.6 million subs in Arabic-speaking countries by 2023. This is higher than its nearest rival Starz Play with 2.8 million.

Turkey remains the leading SVOD country (spearheaded by Netflix) with 6.7 million subs projected by 2023 – or a third of the region’s total.

“Netflix is dominant across the MENA region … partly because it operates in more territories than its Arabic competitors,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in a statement. “However, its success is down to more than geographic reach. The global appeal of its original content has spread throughout the region.”

Indeed, Netflix is spending upwards of $8 billion on original content in 2018 – much of it overseas.

Top SVOD services include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Icflix, Starz Play, Iflix, Wavo, beIN Connect and Shahid Plus, which collectively will account for 75% of MENA’s SVOD subs by end-2023, up from 56% in 2017.

Extracting Israel and Turkey, these eight platforms will retain 91% of SVOD subs.

SVOD revenue is projected to grow 600% through 2023 to $2.03 billion. Market leader Turkey will add $451 million in revenue to more than double its total to $603 million by 2023. Saudi Arabia will increase its SVOD revenue seven times to reach $351 million in 2023.

“Although overall subscriber numbers will climb impressively, there are just too many Arabic platforms,” Murray said. “They do not offer enough original or exclusive content to seriously challenge Netflix. We do not believe that the market can sustain this many Arabic platforms in the long run.”

Netflix Expands Middle East Presence

Netflix Feb. 19 announced a regional partnership in the Middle East with OSN, an entertainment network with broadcast rights into 24 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region.

The partnership comes amid a shifting global media landscape that sees demand for content across multiple platforms – including over-the-top – continue to grow.

OSN customers will be able to access Netflix’s content library via an updated set-top box that will be launched towards the end of the second quarter. Customers will also be able to pay for their Netflix subscription via one consolidated OSN bill.

Netflix’s first Arabic stand-up comedy, “Adel Karam: Live from Beirut,” is due to launch soon.

“The future of the entertainment industry in the MENA region will be shaped by providers who offer value and choice at every turn, CEO Martin Stewart said in a statement.

The deal also offers access to original series and films in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, including Bright, “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black, “House of Cards” and The Crown,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Narcos,” and the new cyberpunk noir, “Altered Carbon.”

“With this regional partnership, OSN’s customers will be able to seamlessly access and enjoy all the best entertainment in one place,” said Maria Ferreras, VP business development for EMEA at Netflix.