Digital company launches technology to beat Saudi’s cinema ban

Saudi residents will be able to watch movies at home when they premiere in other Gulf states
By Courtney Trenwith
Fri 15 Nov 2013 04:10 PM

A Middle East digital company has created what it says is world-first technology that will circumvent a ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia by bringing movies to lounge rooms at the same time as they premiere in the rest of the Gulf.

There are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia and residents are mostly forced to wait until blockbusters are released on DVD or online before they can watch them.

Digital media company Intigral said it had partnered with Gulf Film and Italia Films to launch the first premium video on demand (PVOD) technology that would make movies available in Saudi homes simultaneously with theatre premiers across the Middle East.

It will be launched in the kingdom on November 28 to coincide with the release of Hollywood blockbuster Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

The service is only available on televisions connected to the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) with either a Jood3 and Jood4 bundle – STC’s high-speed broadband triple and quad play services.

“Saudis no longer need to travel to Bahrain or Dubai to see movies the day they are released in cinemas,” Intigral vice president Ben Kinealy said.

“They will be able to watch the latest blockbuster Hollywood and Arabic movies in KSA through STC’s inVision IPTV set-top box and in the comfort of their own home.”

Each movie download will cost SAR69 ($18.40).

Customers will be able to replay the movie for up to three weeks before it is wiped from their personal library.

All of the movies launched on PVOD will be added to a wider library three months after the movie has finished premiering in cinemas.

Media content providers have been increasing their investment in the region as viewers become more savvy with internet downloads.

OSN, the largest pay TV network in the Middle East, has spent millions securing deals with every Hollywood studio to be the first in the region to show movies on the small screen, often years ahead of non-subscriber based networks.

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