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Netflix loses out to Starzplay in MENA with 1 million subscriptions

Starzplay, the Dubai-based subscription video on demand (SVOD) start-up, has now higher subscribers than Netflix – the global SVOD leader – in the Middle East and North Africa, a top official claimed.

“In January 2019, we have reached 1 million subscribers in the Middle East – higher than Netflix,” Maaz Sheikh, CEO of Starzplay, told The Arabian Post, on the sidelines of a press briefing on Monday evening. “We are now the largest SVOD service provider in the Middle East.”

The company has entered into a strategic alliance with Sharaf DG, one of the region’s most successful electronic retailers, to offer a free annual subscription to DG Member Programme members. The DG Member Programme is an annual subscription that comes with a renewable one-year validity and offers discounted shopping across Sharaf DG’s stores in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt as well as its online shopping portal. This programme would soon be available through online portal in Saudi Arabia.

In this latest partnership, DG Members will now be able to access the best of online entertainment including Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic favourites via Starzplay.

“With this, we expect to add 200,000 new subscribers who are Sharaf DG Members, by the end of the year,” he said.

SVOD revenues in the Mena region are predicted to reach $2.1 billion by 2024. The overall value of the global video on demand market stood at US$43.9 billion in 2017. However, progressing at a compound annual growth rate of (CAGR) of 9 percent the market is expected to reach a valuation of US$ 87.1 billion by the end of 2025, according to a latest research report.

Sharaf DG is offering its membership of discounted shopping benefits and a free annual Starzplay subscription at a price of Dh239. The annual subscription of Starzplay costs Dh480.

Nilesh Khalkho, CEO at Sharaf DG, said: “We sell 55,000 screens every month – that include any device that has a screen, such as TV, tablets, etc. We also have 85,000 loyal customers and we add 5,000 paid members to our list of loyal customers, who are constantly looking for new contents. By the end of 2019, we expect to have 150,000 paid members – who would enjoy video contents on Starzplay platform.

“Unlimited entertainment and unmatched discounts are now the two key offerings of DG Member Programme. We are excited to have partnered with Starzplay, as the DG Member Programme has become a more delightful experience that takes shopping at Sharaf DG to the next level.”

Maaz Sheikhadded: “Our latest strategic partnership makes perfect sense – as leaders in our own respective fields, Starzplay and Sharaf DG share a customer-centric approach that drives benefits and enhances value for our customers. DG Members can now enjoy access to Starzplay’s content as we continue to expand and diversify our viewing options for subscribers according to regional demand.”

The news represents the latest move in Starzplay’s growth story as it continues to expand its regional footprint and product offering to its expanding customer base. Starzplay made a multimillion-dollar investment in programming content during the first quarter of 2019, curating series and movies tailored to its demographically diverse viewer base.

 Starzplay is a subscription video on demand service that streams Hollywood movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and same-day-as-the-US series – plus dedicated Arabic and Bollywood content – to 20 countries across MENA and Pakistan. The service carries thousands of premium titles including exclusive STARZ Original content such as Power, Outlander, Spartacus and The White Queen.

Starzplay allows subscribers to watch its full HD and 4K content via most internet-enabled devices, smart TVs and game consoles, and is widely available on regional IPTV services. Its iOS and Android apps – installed on more than three million devices – also allow downloads for offline playback.

Starz, a Lionsgate company (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) and State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) are the lead investors along with media and technology investment firms including SEQ Capital Partners and Delta Partners.

Sharaf DG is one of the leading powerhouse retailers and UAE’s first ever big-box concept. The brand currently has 30 stores in United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman & Egypt today and a significant online presence. With over 25,000 electronic products and accessories to choose from reputed international brands, Sharaf DG’s distinctive style of enhancing customer lifestyle has left an indelible mark on the consumers mind. The company prides itself with their exemplary service and product knowledge at store level, coupled with the widest range of electronics available at the best value.

Also published on Medium.