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Starz spreads to Middle East

Premium cablenet Starz is preparing to launch its first branded service outside the US – a subscription VoD offering rolling out across 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Black Sails

Black Sails

Starz Play will debut on April 2 featuring exclusive Starz original series plus TV and movie content from major Hollywood Studios and other US pay TV networks.

Maaz Sheikh, previously chief sales and operations officer of pay TV network OSN, has been hired as president and chief operating officer to run the Starz Play Arabia venture.

The venture is being launched in partnership with Sweden’s Parsifal Entertainment Group and is part of a wider global expansion plan for the platform.

Early emphasis will be placed on countries in the Gulf including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The service will also be available in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, among others.

Users can access it via PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices from launch, with shows available including The White Queen, Spartacus and pirate drama Black Sails.

In the US Starz TV Everywhere offers more than 3,000 movies and a wide selection of TV series for US$13.99 a month, enticing new users with a 30-day free trial and no monthly contract.

In October last year Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told investors the firm was committing US$20m to explore online launches in selected territories. The move followed a similar move from rival HBO, which announced plans for a standalone OTT VoD platform the same month.

HBO Now subsequently launched in partnership with Apple last month.

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