Qatar's BeIN Strikes Deal With Middle East Distributor to Expand Pay-TV Offering

Courtesy of Festival de Cannes
Titles such as 'It Follows' will now premiere exclusively in the Middle East on BeIN's film channels.

The Front Row Entertainment pact was reached amid reports that BeIN is in talks to buy Miramax.

Qatar-based Middle East pay-TV giant BeIN Media, which is currently in talks to acquire Miramax, has struck a deal with Front Row Film Entertainment aimed at expanding BeIN's cinematic offering as it looks to move away from a purely sports-based portfolio. 

The five-year output deal with the Dubai-based distributor will see films such as Cannes titles Dheepan, Tale of Tales and It Follows, plus upcoming titles like Snowden, Anomalisa, Free Fire and High Rise premiere exclusively across the region on BeIN's recently added movie channels.

Orbit and Showtime's merged network OSN previously held the monopoly on pay-TV movies and original programming in the Middle East, but BeIN's move into entertainment looks likely to shake this up.

"As we launch our entertainment portfolio, it is imperative that we align with independent content aggregators," said BeIN's deputy CEO, Yousef Al-Obaidly "We feel that Front Row is a great fit for BeIN. Their enthusiasm, love and knowledge of the film industry is remarkable. We are confident that this partnership will be a major asset to the network’s expansion.”

Front Row managing partner Gianluca Chakra described the deal as "probably one of the biggest" in his company's history.

"This output deal is only the beginning of a long term relationship based on mutual trust and benefit which will spawn many more ventures that are already being planned with BeIN," he added. "We understand BeIN’s ambition to position itself as the leading regional entertainment platform and we are committed to collaborating with BeIN on this journey."

Earlier this week it was reported that BeIN Media, which was formed in 2014 as the holding company for Al Jazeera spin-off BeIN Sports, was in exclusive talks to acquire Miramax from billionaire Thomas Barrack Jr. and other Miramax investors.

A source confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that talks were underway but nothing had yet been confirmed.