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Starz Play Arabia, Middle East Telco Ooredoo Team Up on TV App

Variety logo Variety 3/27/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Expanding Qatar-based telco Ooredoo and Starz Play Arabia have forged a partnership to launch Ooredoo TV Go, an on-demand streaming service to which Starz Play will provide more than 6,000 hours of mostly Hollywood shows in eight markets across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

The deal, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, will also give Oooredoo the content cornerstone for launching an Ooredoo TV Go app, in the first step of a planned multi-channel, multimedia OTT service.

“This is only the beginning for Ooredoo TV Go,” Johan Buse, Ooredoo’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “We will have more content and channels added in the future and we also have ambitious plans to have it optimized for television.”

Maaz Sheikh, Starz Play CEO, said that “the combination of SVOD platforms and telecom operators now brings Arab consumers the premium content they want at an affordable price” and gives consumers “greater control over what they watch, when they watch, and what device they watch it on.” He called Ooredoo TV Go “a solid example of how to deliver the maximum value and convenience to customers.”

Rapidly growing Ooredoo has more than 138 million customers. It currently operates in Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine, the Maldives, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Starz Play, which is the first Starz service outside the U.S., offers Starz signature shows including “Spartacus,” “Black Sails,” “Power,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” and “The White Queen,” and also a wide selection of other Hollywood movie content, including new releases, kid- and family-oriented content, and programming from local partners.

Starz Play launched in the Middle East in 2015, beating Netflix to the punch in the region. It seems to be gaining traction, recently touting more than 1,500 new signups a day. Series that have been strong performers include “Power” (pictured), Showtime series “Billions,” and the History Channel’s “Vikings.”

Digital media growth in the MENA region is forecast by PwC at 17.6%  between 2016 and 2020.

In January, Starz Play forged a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution for exclusive Middle East rights to several hit shows, including “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Supergirl.”

Starz Play operates in 19 MENA countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates,  Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Its top territory is Saudi Arabia, where it has a bundling partnership with leading telecom operator Saudi Telecom.

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