STARZPLAY, the leading subscription video on demand (SVOD) service, has entered into a partnership with Academy Award-winning media and entertainment company, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, to create its first original content series. Production will commence in 2020 with the Arabic-language content set to be released towards the end of the same year.
The production will be an anthology of Urban Legends, with each episode telling a different story. The series will explore regional tales and fables from the Middle East that will resonate with STARZPLAY’S Arabic speaking audience. The series will be produced by Yasir Al-Yasiri (Shebab Sheybab) under his production company with Mansoor Al Feeli - Starship Entertainment. Al-Yasiri is also attached to direct one of the episodes, with further regional directors to be announced.
The announcement follows Image Nation’s recent focus on episodic content, having released the landmark documentary television series History of the Emirates. The series launched on local and international channels around the UAE’s 48th Annual National Day and is currently airing in 50 countries around the world on National Geographic.
Maaz Sheikh, Co-founder and CEO at STARZPLAY, said: “This is a real milestone in STARZPLAY’s development as we enter into a new realm, producing our own original Arabic content for the first time. As we continue to focus on the customer and delivering the highest value in terms of quality content and accessibility, we are pleased to have reached an agreement with one the region’s leading production houses that has gained international acclaim for its quality films, series and documentaries. We hope this is the beginning of a long and productive journey with Image Nation as we enter into the original content space, initially with a focus on Arabic language.”
Michael Garin, CEO at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “This region is home to a huge audience of content consumers who are eager to watch locally-made content that represents and resonates with them. As such, we are delighted to enter into this partnership with STARZPLAY as it begins producing original content for the MENA region and we continue to build a self-sustainable and creative media industry in the Middle East.
Khaled Benchouche, SVP of Programming and Acquisitions at STARZPLAY, added: “We’re very excited to venture into our own original production for the first time. We hope the content will prove appealing and engaging to our subscriber base, with a gripping anthology of urban legends from across the Middle East region, at times entering into the ever-popular psychological thriller category. The six stand-alone stories will capture the essence of Middle East mythology, steeped in regional culture with fantastical and elaborate imagery bringing these ancient stories into the future for a modern audience.”
Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, added: “Image Nation Abu Dhabi prides itself on creating international-standard entertainment while maintaining the local and regional perspectives that we know audiences are eager to see. As a platform with a MENA focus, STARZPLAY is the perfect partner for this project and we are excited to help launch this milestone series for audience in this region and beyond.”
An innovative digital start-up from the region, STARZPLAY has achieved exceptional growth and currently enjoys market leadership in online video subscription. A trendsetter in terms of its business model, the company has successfully established mutually beneficial partnerships with some of the region’s leading telecommunications companies and offers flexible payment options through customers’ existing mobile/WiFi packages.
Available in 20 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, with more than 10,000 hours of content including premium movies, exclusive and Arabic series, STARZPLAY has also secured its place as the number one player in the MENA region.