Zain to offer streaming TV and movies in Middle East and Africa
16 February 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
News Corporation-backed Iflix has concluded a deal to deliver streaming TV and movies to Zain customers in the Middle East and Africa.
Zain will offer the service to its customers in seven countries, and may widen the offer. The operator, which is based in Kuwait, has signed up Kuala Lumpur-based Iflix to launch Iflix Arabia, to serve subscribers in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, “with the potential to further extend into additional regional markets”, added Zain.
Iflix Arabia will be based in Dubai, from which it will add Zain’s territories to an existing footprint that already covers the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan and other Asian countries.
Zain group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said: “Iflix has done an exceptional job in spearheading the entertainment revolution in Asia and truly has an industry-leading product. What distinguishes Iflix is its constant innovation and commitment to offering its customers an exceptional and entertaining digital experience, which is at the heart of what Zain stands for.”
Iflix distributes movies and TV from studios such as MGM, Disney, Warner Bros and Sony Pictures and broadcasters including the BBC. A key shareholder is Catcha Group, an Asian internet investor also based in Kuala Lumpur, whose shareholders include News Corporation. Other investors include Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and European TV broadcaster Sky, which is part-owned by News Corporation.
Bader Al Kharafi, vice chairman of the Zain group, said: “The establishment of the joint venture Iflix Arabia instantly creates enormous value for both Zain and iflix stakeholders, given the synergies created and the new revenue streams that will be generated by the expected take-up of this appealing internet TV service from the general public and Zain customers. This is a monumental step forward for Zain in our journey to become the premier digital lifestyle provider in the MENA region.”
The companies plan to launch the new service in the second quarter of 2017, with subtitles in Arabic and English. Iflix Arabia plans to introduce exclusive Arabic series, said the companies.
“We look forward to bringing our 47m customers and regional mobile operations into the iflix footprint,” said Gegenheimer.
The CEO of Iflix Arabia will be John-Paul McKerlie, until now Zain’s consumer marketing director. He said: “The teaming of Zain and Iflix has empowered both businesses with the capacity to offer customers the most incredible content services.”
Each subscription will allow users to access the service on up to five devices, including phones, laptops, tablets, and TV sets.
As with other streaming services, such as rival operator Hooq, backed by Singtel, subscribers will be able to download TV and movies for offline viewing. The system is designed to work on low internet speeds, said Zain.
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