LifestyleMovies & MusicTechnology

STARZ Play and how is it relevant to the region

CEO of STARZ Play Arabia Maaz Sheikh
CEO of STARZ Play Arabia Maaz Sheikh

STARZ Play Arabia is Streaming Video on Demand (SVoD) service that delivers blockbuster movies and exclusive TV series – many day-and-date with the US – in 17 countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

Developed exclusively for the MENA region, STARZ Play Arabia is rich in original programming and features one-click Arabic subtitling. The service provides more than 4,500 hours of premium HD content sourced from some of the most important names in the entertainment business such as Disney, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Starz, Warner Bros, Showtime and CBS.

STARZ Play Arabia is available on a wide variety of devices and platforms including laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and Chromecast, with support for numerous other gaming and smart devices being added all the time. Unlimited access to STARZ Play Arabia is just $7.99 per month (no contracts – cancel anytime), with new subscribers enjoying a 30-day free trial. Some excerpts from a special interview with Maaz Sheikh to know more about STARZ Play Arabia.

Kuwait Times: We’re hearing that cord-cutting is a spreading phenomenon. What does it mean? How is it relevant to the region?

Maaz Sheikh: “Cord-cutting” refers to the process of replacing traditional satellite connections with a low-cost online subscription to watch movies and TV shows. It has previously been thought of as a largely US phenomenon, but it has been trending across Europe and Asia as well. Millennials aged 18-24 – a large and key demographic – are reducing their traditional TV minutes at a faster rate than the population as a whole. This is particularly true in the MENA region, where digital video consumption is one of the highest in the world.

Kuwait Times: What are your expansion plans/ partnerships?
Maaz Sheikh: We are the only digital service available on Etisalat’s eLife On Demand service, allowing customers in the UAE to conveniently view STARZ Play Arabia through their eLife set top boxes. Similarly, we are available on Ooredoo’s Mosaic TV service in Qatar. We’re planning to add our services to telcos in Kuwait, KSA and Morocco before the end of this year. STARZ Play Arabia partnered with VIVA – Bahrain and Orange-Jordan to offer customers another payment method through their mobile phones, with a standard price: $7.99 a month. STARZ Play Arabia has exclusive long-term partnerships with major Hollywood studios including Disney, Sony, Warner, Paramount and MGM. We are expanding the range of devices our service is available on and will soon be launching support for AppleTV, Samsung TV and PlayStation.

Kuwait Times: How do you cater to North Africans/ do you have French content?

Maaz Sheikh: We cater to our subscribers in North Africa by providing our content with French dubbing. So far, we’ve adapted 50% of our assets and we’re planning to reach 70% before the end of Q2.

Kuwait Times: Is Netflix affecting your performance in the region especially with its ME version?

Maaz Sheikh: Viewing Netflix in the region is not new; it has been widely available through VPN and other means for several years. We believe the legal and official arrival of Netflix is a positive step for the industry and consumers. We hope Netflix continues to take serious steps to restrict the availability of its US service through VPNs in the MENA region as it contravenes the legal rights of license holders such as ourselves.
Netflix’s arrival in the region hasn’t really changed our strategy. We continue to strengthen our offering by adding more movies and new series to the platform. It doesn’t impact us as the legally offered Netflix service in the region has neither the content depth nor breadth that consumers here want. Given that it’s a global service, the content is not specifically curated for the MENA region.

Kuwait Times: Can you name some exclusive series and movies that you have on your portal?
Maaz Sheikh: Below are some of our exclusive shows/movies available on the service:
* Series:
o The Shannara Chronicles – Same time as the US
o Billions – Same time as the US
o Black Sails – Same time as the US
o The Girlfriend Experience – Box Set

* Movies:
o Gravity
o Guardians Of The Galaxy
o Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
o Planes 2: Fire & Rescue.

By Islam Al-Sharaa

Back to top button