Starz Play Arabia Secures Additional Funding

The Hollywood Reporter

The Starz Play Arabia subscription video streaming service, which is available in 19 countries across the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA), on Monday said it has secured a new multimillion dollar round of funding.

The specific size of the investment wasn't detailed. Premium TV company Starz is an original investor in the venture.

"This investment is led by existing investors, including SEQ Capital Partners, and new investors, including Delta Partners Capital, an emerging market centric advisory and investment platform for the telecoms, media and digital space," the company said. It will be used to finance Starz Play's continued expansion of services and partnerships and also allow further content acquisitions.

Starz Play, which launched 18 months ago, welcomed more than 17 million site visitors in October with such movies and TV series as Power, Black Sails and Ash vs Evil Dead from Starz.

Said Maaz Sheikh, CEO of Starz Play Arabia: "Strategic partnerships with leading studios, major telecom groups and device manufacturers have proven our long term business model. We now enjoy a six-figure subscriber base of customers in MENA who enjoy the affordable, on-demand experience our service provides. We've also made subscribing to Starz Play easier and even better value than ever by introducing mobile phone bills as a payment option and creating attractive offers through telecom service providers."

He added: "We've raised the bar for subscription video-on-demand services in this region and these new funds will enable us to further enhance our content and technology offering."

Said Kaj-Erik Relander, partner at SEQ: "The SVOD industry is evolving rapidly and companies are competing aggressively to meet their customers' requirements and demands. Starz Play has done an extremely impressive job of providing a convenient viewing experience for SVOD users in the MENA region."

And Kai-Uwe Ricke, chairman of Delta Partners, said: "Starz Play has demonstrated its unique capability to adapt the traditional SVOD business model to the specifics of emerging markets. We are very excited to become part of Starz Play's journey and we intend to leverage the expertise and network of Delta Partners Group to help the management in forging deeper and more successful win-win partnerships with telecom operators in MENA and beyond."

John Penney, chairman of Starz Play Arabia and chief strategy officer of Starz, added: "Starz has been very pleased with the progress shown by Starz Play and its investment in the venture. Maaz and his team have established a great foundation for the business to grow throughout the region. We are delighted to see additional investment come in from smart partners and view this as an endorsement of the vision we had when establishing the business, and the positive outlook we see going forward for the MENA marketplace."

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