Starz to Debut OTT Service in Middle East

'Black Sails'

The direct-to-consumer SVOD venture, entitled Starz Play Arabia, will launch on April 2 in 17 countries.

Starz announced on Wednesday that it will launch its international, direct-to-consumer SVOD venture Starz Play Arabia in 17 countries, beginning on April 2.

The company's first Starz-branded service outside the U.S. was developed in conjunction with the Parsifal Entertainment Group for select markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with a particular early marketing emphasis on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries where the service is available include Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

The platform will offer Starz original series — including Black Sails, Power, Survivor's Remorse, Spartacus, The White Queen, Magic City and more — as well as other licensed film and TV content from studios and U.S. pay TV networks. A subscription initially begins at $13.99/month, a 30-day free trial and no monthly contractual obligations, and will be available on PCs and Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices at launch.

Maaz Sheikh — a former chief sales and operations officer of a leading pay TV network in MENA — has been hired as the venture's president and COO.

“Taking the Starz brand to these markets with the latest video distribution technology represents an innovative opportunity to grow the Starz business," said Chris Albrecht, Starz CEO, in a statement. "Starz Play Arabia has a strong content foundation in place anchored by the growing worldwide portfolio of Starz Original series programming and leveraged with a smart mix of other premier licensed product through our relationships within the industry."

Sheikh added, “Starz Play Arabia has a unique opportunity to fill a market need and offer the growing Internet-savvy population of the region the best in TV and movie content, at an affordable price point, and with high-value convenience and control. We have aggregated a compelling collection of great original programming including Starz original series and movie content from around the world. Our content will be presented in a culturally sensitive way and will be a showcase technologically, with a strong consumer value proposition."