PARTNER TO THRIVE
This month’s big news that MBC Group and Fox Networks have signed a deal to carry Fox’s content on MBC’s Shahid Plus subscription streaming platform has proving once again that partnerships work like nothing else in the MENA region. Fox’s library of films, entertainment, and lifestyle content will sit on MBC’s Shahid Plus platform.
While MBC is the dominant media player in the Arab speaking world, Fox is a strong global brand with a largely English language content proposition. When Fox decided to launch their own direct to consumer streaming service ‘Fox+’, they understood the value of forming win-win partnerships. Sanjay Raina, regional head of Fox Networks Group, recently told Gulf News that he believed tying up with an existing platform, instead of going it alone was “the sensible thing to do”.
Raina added that for MENA viewers, a combined platform that marries premium English language content with a predominantly Arabic-language platform, carries “immense value”. Creating such win-win content partnerships is becoming key in a market where distribution scale, along with customer experience and original Arabic content are critical.
No wonder that MBC Group is putting partnerships with local broadcasters, streaming players and content producers at the core of its plan to develop Shahid as the largest regional OTT platform. All these developments are great news for MENA viewers. In an increasingly crowded OTT market, consumers in the Middle East can choose between Netflix, Amazon, Starz Play, Iflix, Shahid Plus and OSN’s Wavo, to name just a few.
Competition from the tech sector is pushing the largest media firms to look towards controlling both the content and the platforms on which it apapears. Throughout the year, pay TV satellite operator, OSN made a string of content partnership announcements with the likes of Netflix and Disney. Another example in the news this month is Snapchat, which announced a slate of new shows for their platform from over 20 carefully selected Middle East content partners.
Telco operators are looking to enter the media distribution vertical acting as payment middlemen who can build trust and add convenience to a streaming content service, thanks to the region’s massive consumption of content via mobile devices. In a region lacking mass credit card penetration, streaming service providers know that convenient payment mechanisms through mobile operator partnerships is an important driver for adoption of their service.
In less than a month UAE telecom leader du has announced distribution deals with both Netflix and Amazon. In Saudi Arabia, Fox has partnered with state-owned STC’s to carry the Fox Plus service on its JawwyTV platform. STC’s ambitious plans for its game-changing JawwyTV service and their focus on forming alliances is another indication of how the convergence between broadcast platforms, content and technology is promising to rapidly re-shape the entire competitive landscape in the region.
Snapchat is partnering with over 20 MidEast media brands and publishers