‘Netflix model for measuring success does not apply to the Middle East streaming business’: CEO of Starzplay Arabia

“Within the Center East and North Africa and throughout Asia, bank card penetration ranges are usually not as excessive as within the US, UK or UAE. There, streaming platforms have to align with telecom corporations in order that their content material is considered by native audiences. There are elements of Asia and Africa the place bank card penetration is lower than 5 %.”

Netflix’s working mannequin caught the eye of buyers final week after the US streaming large mentioned it had misplaced subscribers by greater than 1 / 4 for the primary time in additional than 10 years. Additionally, I used to be planning to make adjustments to packages and scale back password sharing. Even contemplate bringing ad-supported packages to subscribers – now, that is unthinkable for a streaming platform that has all the time insisted on no advertisements.

“Strazplay Arabia sought telecom alliances throughout all of the markets we serve within the area. And this territory is doing rather well in subscribers and watching.”

Sheiikh can actually say that. Starzplay Arabia lately noticed Abu Dhabi heavyweights e& (previously Etisalat Group) and ADQ take stakes in it. A lot in order that evision – which is the leisure arm of e& – would be the majority shareholder of Starzplay.

“e& had a stake in our firm since 2017 – we began operations in April 2015. This has now grown to a majority stake.”

On the operational aspect, Starzplay has ongoing partnerships with all main regional telecommunications corporations. That means, viewers who join a smartphone subscription – postpaid or pay as you go, it does not matter – may also have entry to the Starzplay library. Whether or not they have a bank card or not, funds are made as a result of it’s a part of the smartphone subscription bouquet.

“There can be adjustments in viewers patterns and even subscriptions – that does not imply development is stopping for streaming providers on MENA,” mentioned Sheikh. “I do not purchase the ‘saturation’ argument – it is a very US-centric perspective, nevertheless it does not mesh with what’s taking place in the remainder of the world within the streaming enterprise.”

Currently, Starzplay has been including reside sporting occasions to its platform, together with the FIFA Membership World Cup in addition to high-stakes T20 cricket matches. “Including sports activities content material is all the time a danger for broadcasters – and sports activities packages alone is not going to be worthwhile. For us, attracting these viewers by our sports activities choices will increase the probabilities that they are going to see the leisure choices we’ve got. And the place they find yourself watching Billions or The Workplace – that’s the place we rating.”

In the case of sporting occasions, it additionally helps that Starzplay shares the price of acquiring the rights with Abu Dhabi Media and evision. “Monetizing these rights throughout a number of platforms reduces prices and dangers for everybody,” mentioned Sheikh. “That is what economies of scale can do for the enterprise. We’re not essentially simply going to the most important sports activities manufacturers. There’s a big urge for food for localized sports activities – we can be there too.”

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