Starzplay: Entertaining millions through the click of a button
Maaz Sheikh, Chief Executive Officer, Starzplay
Entertainment powerhouse STARZ PLAY is brightening the screens of millions with popular TV series and movies in multiple languages.
Making high quality entertainment accessible, STARZ PLAY streams popular series at their original time of release, without any delay. CEO Maaz Sheikh explains why STARZ PLAY has become the choice of audiences when it comes to Subscription Video on Demand in the MENA region.
"As a pan regional online streaming service, we offer a mix of Khaleeji, Egyptian and Levant content, in addition to Hollywood movies and series, as we cater to audiences from Muscat to Marrakech and everywhere in between. Our key value proposition is that all our content has Arabic subtitles. we also offer our content in Northern Africa with a French language option. Our audience can view popular TV series such as "Vikings" at their convenience.
"Many people in the region illegally download series, however this comes with neither the quality nor the subtitles that our service offers, and most importantly, they cannot view the content as soon as it is made available in the U.S or U.K. STARZ PLAY has long-term strategic partnerships with major studios, including 20th Century Fox, CBS, Disney, Lionsgate, Paramount, Showtime, Sony, Starz, Universal and Warner Bros. Therefore we receive content in advance before it is aired on television, for us to subtitle and make available for our audiences at the time of release. All files are stored locally, hence subscribers can play series or movies with no buffering required," he explains.
STARZ PLAY is a gift that keeps on giving for entertainment enthusiasts, or practically anybody who needs to wind down with a good series without the hassles of tricky international payment systems. "We are headquartered in Dubai, and for our subscribers who are customers of du or Etisalat, payments can easily be made through their mobile phones. By working with local telecom operators, we have established convenient payment methods. Currently we work with 12 telecom operators in the MENA region. This not only ensures convenience, but also builds trust between us and our subscribers."
"The flat monthly price of Dh30 provides unlimited content, with the first month being a free trial. If you like the service, you can choose to pay and subscribe, which can be done through your mobile if you are already a customer of du or Etisalat. "We are now launching a download feature, through which content will stay on your device for seven days, and ensure subscribers will not require an internet connection or data for playback. Through the innovative technology of advanced compression, the files will take up minimal device storage space," he says.
Sheikh is a veteran of the telecom and media industry. With over eight years of experience at OSN, Sheikh identified the need to create an innovative way of distributing entertainment, as the MENA region swayed from tradition. "In the MENA region, high smartphone penetration has resulted in an increased demand for mobile applications and broadband. As always, consumer behaviour is the driving force and these shifts in behaviour happen organically. Therefore, we analysed digital video consumption in the MENA region, including piracy trends, to determine which series are the most sought-after. Through our research we were able to conclude that there was a need to create a platform that would fill the gap within this region," says the CEO.
STARZ PLAY's success was inevitable. "In terms of application downloads, we've crossed the one million mark. Daily, we get almost a million unique visits to our website coming from 19 countries and on average we sign up 1,500 to 1,800 new paying customers a day. We are the 16th most visited of all websites in KSA and 40th in the UAE. In both markets, we are ahead of Netflix in website rankings. We focus on mass audience appeal by featuring popular series such as "Vikings" and "The Flash" alongside more family friendly options. The secret to our success boils down to great content, convenient payment options and associations with reliable and trusted brands. More than half of the people who sign up to our 30-day free trial convert to paying subscribers. Our team consists of talented employees coming from different backgrounds to make this company successful. I believe the entertainment industry as well as the online e-commerce industry are changing rapidly in the MENA region, and we are growing with it," he concludes.