STARZ PLAY Arabia launches in Middle East & North Africa

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
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STARZ PLAY Arabia Launches on April 2nd in 17 Countries: New, Premium Content Direct-to-Consumer Subscription Video Business for Middle East & North Africa Markets

  • First STARZ-Branded Service Outside of U.S.
  • Multiplatform Service Features Exclusive STARZ Original Series, Other Licensed TV/Movie Content from Major Hollywood Studios and U.S. Pay TV Networks
  • Maaz Sheikh Hired as President/COO to Run STARZ PLAY Arabia Venture
  • Powerful, Consumer-Friendly Technology Platform to Support Innovative Product Offerings in High-Growth, International Markets

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) announced details of the STARZ PLAY Arabia launch on April 2nd in 17 countries. The first international STARZ PLAY is a new, premium content, direct-to-consumer multiplatform subscription video service developed in conjunction with the Parsifal Entertainment Group for select markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As part of Starz’ STARZ PLAY International initiative, STARZ PLAY Arabia marks the first time that Starz has extended its flagship brand in a service offering outside of the United States.

Maaz Sheikh, former Chief Sales and Operations Officer of a leading pay TV network in MENA, is the lead executive of STARZ PLAY Arabia and serves as its President and Chief Operating Officer.

STARZ PLAY Arabia debuts in 17 countries and territories throughout the region with a particular early marketing emphasis on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including: Bahrain, Kingdom of 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.

STARZ PLAY Arabia presents an offering that is optimized for the respective Middle East and North Africa markets, and is rich in original programming and other blockbuster movie, premium series and kids content from other partners. STARZ PLAY Arabia extends the STARZ PLAY brand, currently used in the United States for the Starz TV Everywhere offerings, and initially offers more than 3,000 movies and a wide selection of TV series for $13.99/month, a 30-day free trial, and no monthly contractual obligations. The SVOD service will be available on PCs and Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices at launch.

In addition to a growing portfolio of fully-owned STARZ Original series, including “Black Sails,” “Power,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Spartacus,” “The White Queen,” “Magic City,” and more included STARZ PLAY Arabia’s TV series offerings, the service will also include a wide selection of movie content, including new releases and library content, licensed from Hollywood major, mini-major and indie film studios and from around the globe, including content from leading pay TV networks.

“Starz is very pleased with the launch of the world-class STARZ PLAY Arabia partnership in the Middle East and North Africa. This is the first time a STARZ-branded service has been launched outside of the United States,” said Chris Albrecht, Starz CEO. “Taking the STARZ brand to these markets with the latest video distribution technology represents an innovative opportunity to grow the Starz business. 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.”

Maaz Sheikh commented, “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.”

“We are very pleased with the prospects of Starz entering the MENA markets. STARZ PLAY Arabia is a compelling business opportunity to sell a high-quality STARZ PLAY service direct-to-consumers and, potentially, through incumbent video and telecommunications infrastructure providers as a must-have premium add-on,” added John Penney, Chief Strategy Officer for Starz. “Starz will continue to be aggressive and innovative in leveraging its original programming portfolio to identify and establish new, global revenue growth opportunities for the company.”

Peter Ekelund, owner of Parsifal Entertainment Group, commented, “I am very delighted to be partnering with Starz. We have assembled a strong STARZ PLAY Arabia management team with local expertise that is ready to tap into the significant growth potential in these markets.”