Subscription streamer Starz Play Arabia has partnered with Fremantle to exclusively carry its high-end shows “Baghdad Central,” “The Luminaries,” and “Dublin Murders” across 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, as the Starz-branded OTT service continues to ramp up operations in the region.
The deal provides Starz Play Arabia with the bulk of Fremantle premium scripted product that is congenial for the region. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The partnership was struck as the SVOD market in MENA is getting traction with local revenues expected to triple reaching $2.97 billion by 2025, according to projections by Digital TV Research. Starz Play Arabia claims it is currently the top SVOD player in MENA, though these projections expect Netflix to overtake it by 2025. Disney Plus is also expected to soon enter the Middle East market.
The partnership with Fremantle comes after Starz Play Arabia recently announced they were dipping their toes in production of local originals via a pact with Image Nation Abu Dhabi for an anthology show. The Lionsgate-owned company has ongoing content deals in place with U.S. companies such NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. and Sony.
“Since we first launched, we have always retained a focus on the provision of in-demand, watchable content for our subscribers and this latest partnership is testament to that commitment,” said Starz Play Arabia co-founder and CEO Maaz Sheikh in a statement. “We are excited about our latest partnership with Fremantle and look forward to unveiling future shows on the platform over the course of the year and beyond,” he added.
Fremantle’s Anahita Kheder, SVP Middle East, Africa and South Eastern Europe, noted that the company is committed to making “bold and cutting-edge shows” and “in this sense,” they are “very much aligned” with Starz Play Arabia’s goals, “making them the perfect home for these high-end titles.”
Starz Play Arabia was launched in 2015 as the first Starz branded SVOD service outside the U.S., prior to the Starz brand’s further international expansion in 2018. The Starz Play service is now available in 49 countries through various forms of distribution.
In its quarterly financial results for the three months prior to December 31 of 2019 Lionsgate said the Starz Play Arabia platform has 1.7 million subscribers.