Starz launches Middle East SVOD service

US cable and satellite network Starz is launching its Middle East and North Africa SVOD service, Starz Play Arabia, in 17 countries today.

The multiplatform service, which marks the company’s first venture outside the US, was jointly developed with Sweden’s Parsifal Entertainment Group.

Maaz Sheikh has been appointed president and chief operating officer of the new venture. He was previously chief sales and operations officer of leading Middle East pay-TV network OSN.

The service is being rolled out in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – along with Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

Programming includes Starz Original series such as Black Sails, Power, Survivor’s Remorse, Spartacus, The White Queen and Magic City, along with movies and other TV content acquired from US studios and Arabic-language producers.

“Taking the Starz brand to these markets with the latest video distribution technology represents an innovative opportunity to grow the Starz business,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht.

Maaz Sheikh said: “Starz Play Arabia has a unique opportunity to fill a market need and offer the growing Internet savvy population of the region the best in TV and movie content, at an affordable price point, and with high-value convenience and control.”

Based in Colorado, Starz operates the Starz, Encore and MoviePlex pay-TV networks in the US.