Streaming not main reason behind struggling pay TV market, says StarzPlay CEO

While pay TV has suffered in some markets, it is an emerging business in areas like sub-Saharan Africa, according to Maaz Sheikh
Streaming not main reason behind struggling pay TV market, says StarzPlay CEO
The CEO said streaming is undoubtedly affecting pay TV, particularly as more millennials are leading the switch from traditional TV to streaming.
By Lubna Hamdan
Sun 17 Mar 2019 11:08 AM

Online video streaming is not the main reason behind a struggling pay TV market, according to the CEO of Dubai streaming platform StarzPlay.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Maaz Sheikh said “execution challenges” are among the key difficulties faced by traditional broadcast companies today.

“I’m not sure if some of the challenges the companies face are industry or streaming related. I think some of it is overall execution challenges. So, I wouldn’t say it’s just because of streaming that the broadcast industry is struggling,” he said.

While pay TV has suffered in some markets, it is an emerging business in areas like sub-Saharan Africa, Sheikh said.

“Pay TV in some markets is a declining business. At the same time, there are markets, especially emerging growth markets where satellite, broadcast television and paid television is growing… Pay TV in sub-Saharan Africa and Francophone Africa continues to grow,” he said.

Sheikh also said some broadcast companies including MBC have been successful in launching their own streaming services.

“…MBC’s Shahid is successful in their market share. They are number two players behind Starz Play. I think there are successful models that have worked well in this region as well as in other markets,” he said.

However, the CEO said streaming is undoubtedly affecting pay TV, with millennials leading the switch from traditional TV to streaming.

“I think [streaming] is having an impact. The industry is shifting, especially [with] the millennials. I would ask you, when was the last time sat in front of a TV and flipped channels?” he said.

Starz Play has over one million subscribers in 19 countries, and is ahead of Netflix in the Middle East and North Africa, with a market share of 23.97 percent, as opposed to the US giant’s 18.39 percent market share in the region.

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.

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