Digital Studio - - CONTENTS - PRANAV VADEHRA Pranav Vadehra is Ed­i­tor of Dig­i­tal Stu­dio at ITP Me­dia Group Pub­li­ca­tion.

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

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