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‘Taboo’ Set to Stream in Middle East and North Africa on Starz Play Arabia

Variety logo Variety 1/10/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Tom Hardy TV drama “Taboo” is set to stream in the Middle East and North Africa on Starz Play Arabia, which has struck an exclusive agreement with Sonar Entertainment for the buzzed-about show set in 19th-century London.

The deal comprises the 19 MENA countries covered by Starz Play, which is the first Starz-branded service outside the U.S. The agreement’s financial terms were not disclosed.

The high-profile acquisition of a premium non-Starz series indicates that competition in the region’s SVOD field is heating up amid significant growth in the local digital media sphere. That growth is forecast by PwC at 17.6%  between 2016 and 2020.

Set in 1814, “Taboo” follows James Keziah Delaney (Hardy) as he returns to his hometown of London from Africa after a voyage so long that he’s been presumed dead. Delaney is set to inherit his father’s shipping empire, but he’s thrust into a complex constellation of family, political and economic conflicts that threaten his life as well as the family business.

The eight-episode series is created by Steven Knight with Tom Hardy and his father, Chips Hardy, who is also the show’s consulting producer. Tom Hardy and Knight had previously worked on Netflix’s “Peaky Blinders” and the film “Locke.” Hardy is coming off of a 2016 Oscar nomination for “The Revenant.” Sonar Entertainment is distributing worldwide outside the U.K..

“The convincing storyline and Tom Hardy’s exceptional acting ability make ‘Taboo’ a standout show amongst the most anticipated titles,” Khaled Benchouche, SVP Programming and Acquisition at Starz Play, said in a statement.

For most Arab audiences, “Taboo” will run in English with optional Arabic subtitles. It will be available in French for Starz Play customers in North African territories, including Tunisia and Morocco.

“Taboo” will debut Tuesday on BBC One in the U.K., on FX Networks in the US, and on Starz Play in the Middle East.

Series that have been strong performers on Starz Play include Starz original “Power,” Showtime series “Billions,” and the History Channel’s “Vikings.”

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