Popular American sitcom Friends, for which Netflix paid $100 million in 2018 for rights to continue streaming it in 2019, will remain on Dubai streaming service Starz Play “whether it comes off Netflix or not,” according to CEO Maaz Sheikh.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Sheikh claimed speculation over the future of Netflix’s Friends deal might be a “publicity stunt” and said the US giant had added the show to its service after witnessing its success in the MENA region on Starz Play.
“I read the same news that you are following and sometimes you can’t tell if it’s a publicity stunt or if it’s actually going to happen. But it’s definitely on our service. In fact, we had it in the region before Netflix did. They saw the success of Friends on our service,” he said.
“Unless you have real insights into what people are watching, you cannot estimate whether Friends will work in Egypt or not. But we saw it working and so we doubled down on it and then Netflix looked at how successful it was for us on social media, and they went and acquired the rights for it,” he added.
Starz Play boasts a 23.97 percent market share in MENA, beating Netflix’s 18.39 percent cut.
The Dubai service has over one million subscribers in 19 countries, where it offers thousands of blockbuster Hollywood movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and dedicated Arabic and Bollywood content with the help of its main investor, US entertainment corporation Lionsgate.
Since its launch in 2014, Starz Play has doubled its revenue and subscriber numbers every six months. In 2018, it announced expansion plans in Africa, India and Pakistan, where it signed a joint venture with Pakistani cinema chain Cinepax to boost its potential consumer reach from 350 million to over 500 million.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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