Netflix, Starzplay and Wavo to face new Mideast competitor

Fox Network Group will soon bring content to Middle East viewers directly to their smartphones and other devices, the broadcaster’s chief told Arabian Business yesterday.

“We are in the process of working out the details on our own OTT product,” said regional general Manager and Senior Vice-President at Fox Network Group and National Geographic, Sanjay Raina. “We will have our own differentiation and will be able to come out with sometime very soon.”

OTT refers to over the top services, content delivered over the internet directly to a consumer.

In less than half a decade the phenomenon has resulted in a seismic shift in the Middle East’s TV industry with global and regional giants such as Netflix and Starzplay emerging to drive pull at least some audiences away from TV channels and cable services.

In August last year, OSN responded by introduced its own digital TV service called Wavo in an attempt to generate revenue from users that weren’t subscribed to its cable services.

Fox’s entry into the arena is a sign that the industry has more room to grow and is about to become even more competitive.

“The Middle East has more than 300 million people, 60 million TV households, a majority of the population under 40, and an expat audience speaking a variety of languages in a number of countries. So I can’t see how it is saturated,” Raina said when asked where he saw room for a new entrant in the market.

Tests on a similar online streaming product in May last year is providing it room for optimism. Fox+ launched in the Phillipines with content in a variety of languages and over 20,000 hours of programming. “We signed up 10,000 subscribers in less than two weeks, which was a great success,” he said.

“There is an opportunity very soon to introduce something similar in the region,” added Raina.

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Declining to provide a launch date, he said the service could be out as early as this year.