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Feb. 21, 2024

Shahid Poised to Overtake Netflix in Arabic-Speaking Countries

The decision to reduce global rollout and local content commitments is multifaceted, influenced by market dynamics, financial considerations, and strategic goals. As a result, regional players like Shahid VIP in the Middle East are seizing the opportunity to gain prominence in their home markets. By K Dass.

According to Digital TV Research, Netflix is currently the streaming service with the largest subscriber base across 13 Arabic-speaking countries. However, it is projected to lose its market leadership in the Middle East to Shahid VIP by 2029. This shift is driven by competition from both local and international streaming platforms. As some US-based platforms reduce their global rollout and local content commitments, the Arabic players like Shahid VIP are expected to thrive.


By the end of 2023, Netflix had 3.8 million subscribers, followed closely by Shahid VIP with 3.5 million subscribers, and StarzPlay with 3.0 million subscribers. Shahid VIP, run by the Saudi state-owned MBC Group, has been gaining momentum since its rebranding in 2021. The landscape of streaming services in the Arabic markets is evolving, and Shahid VIP’s rise signals a changing dynamic in the region.


According to Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, some US-based platforms are lowering their global rollout and local content commitments. This strategic shift is opening up opportunities for Arabic players in the streaming market, allowing them to thrive.


While the exact reasons for this trend may vary, here are some potential factors contributing to the reduction in global rollout and local content commitments:


Market Saturation: As streaming services expand globally, they encounter market saturation. Some US-based platforms may have already established a strong presence in certain regions and are now focusing on maintaining their existing subscriber base rather than aggressively expanding to new markets.


Cost Considerations: Expanding globally requires significant investments in infrastructure, marketing, and content localisation. Cost considerations may lead platforms to prioritise existing markets over new ones.


Competition: The streaming landscape is highly competitive, with both local and international players vying for subscribers. By reducing global rollout efforts, platforms can allocate resources more strategically to compete effectively.


Content Licensing Challenges: Acquiring and licensing content for different regions involves complex negotiations and legal agreements. Some platforms may choose to streamline their content libraries to simplify licensing processes.


Focus on Quality: Rather than spreading thin across multiple markets, platforms may opt to concentrate on delivering high-quality content to their existing subscribers. This approach emphasises retention over expansion.


Shift in Priorities: Business priorities evolve over time. Platforms might shift their focus from global expansion to other strategic initiatives, such as improving user experience, enhancing technology, or diversifying content offerings.

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