Netflix’s MENA Rival Raises Fresh Funding To Win Over Cable Cutters In Emerging markets

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Middle eastern on-demand video streaming service Starz Play Arabia has raised an undisclosed amount in fresh funding. The latest round has pushed the funding raised The funding round was led The firm is planning to expand beyond the Middle East and North Africa on the back of the latest round of funding. A part of the investment is going to be directed towards expansion beyond the Middle East and North Africa, said CEO Maaz Sheikh.

The firm is looking to launch in territories in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia, he said.

The cash injection will also help strengthen Starz Play Arabia’s position in the Arab world, where subscriber sign ups have been gaining traction, said Sheikh.

The success of Starz Play in the MENA region highlights the growth potential for OTT services in the region and elsewhere, said Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht.

Starz and its partners continue to evaluate future opportunities to expand the service in new territories outside the MENA region, he said.

Dubai-based Starz Play was launched in April 2015.

It currently operates in 19 MENA countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

Over a million customers have signed up for the service since it started, it claims.

Its top territory is Saudi Arabia, where it has a partnership with leading telecom operator Saudi Telecom.

In April 2014, Starz launched the Starz Play Arabia Over-the-Top (OTT) subscription service across 17 countries in the region. It competes with Netflix, iflix, and icflix, another MENA-focused streaming and VoD platform, in addition to Telly and OSN Play.

In May, Malaysian subscription-based video on demand (SVoD) service iflix launched its service in eight territories across the MENA region.

In January 2016, Netflix made its SVOD digital offering available to 130 countries including those in the MENA region.

In addition to being largely available in English in the MENA and in most new countries, Netflix also added Arabic, Korean, and both simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports.

Previously, Netflix could be viewed in some parts of the MENA, including the UAE, but only with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Icflix offers Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic content, including original Egyptian productions.

Launched in 2013, it is available in Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, the UAE, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, and now has 250,000 customers in the region.