We all have seen how Netflix’s business model graced the company with tremendous success. This success gauged the attention of many other streaming channels as well as gave rise to many similar startups.
We all were there when HBO launched its subscription-based on-demand HBO max, Disney launched Disney+ and Amazon launched Amazon prime. While these are some big sharks, a lot of other baby sharks started out as well such as iflix and STARZPLAY.
STARZPLAY brings Hollywood movies, original TV shows, and children’s programs on on-demand entertainment subscription services – anytime anywhere.
What is STARZPLAY?
STARZPLAY is a Dubai-based Middle Eastern competitor of Netflix Inc. Launched in late 2015, as structured as a TV Everywhere-style, it’s a subscription-based on-demand service.
After the pandemic kicked in, the service witnessed an increase in its overall subscriber count, so on the one hand where Netflix suffered the effects of the pandemic to an extent and still is going through a tough time, STARZPLAY enjoyed massive growth.
Additionally, in 2021 the company had reached over 1.8 million in 20 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) paying subscribers and was reported to have been installed on over six million devices. With a market share of about 33 percent, the company claims to have recorded exceptional growth in 2020, including a 141 percent growth in the number of unique users.
The app is available to download on your iOS or Android devices, including Android TVs, and is compatible with Google Chromecast
Background of Founders
Maaz graduated from Oklahoma State University back in 1993, with a Bachelor’s in Science. In 1996, he completed his MBA from the University of Kansas and started working as the Corporate Finance guy for the Kansas-based company, Sprint.
Over the course of the next ten to twelve years, he served in different international firms in different leading capacities, til he founded STRAZPLAY in 2015.
While there is stiff competition in the region’s SVOD space from the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more, StarzPlay co-founder and CEO Maaz Sheikh told the Entrepreneur, Middle East, that his enterprise has a significant advantage over the others since it’s located within the region and have a sound understanding of its user-base.
Starzplay saw growth of about 40 percent in 2020 in its paid subscriber base and expects the number of users to double over the next three to four years to around 4 million.
As for what makes StarzPlay stand out in the regional landscape, the company’s CEO and Co-founder Sheikh points toward the content it hosts on its platform.
Our subscribers appreciate the premium content we deliver through our partnerships with leading global studios, and how we leverage advanced technology to deliver a seamless customer experience. We also launched our first original production, Baghdad Central, in partnership with Fremantle, which received an overwhelming response, showing that stories from the region resonate with MENA viewers. In addition, the pandemic has created organic demand for our service -in the last 12 months alone.
In late 2020, the company further teamed up with Discovery Inc. to launch Discovery+ across Mena. The company also plans to go public by 2024.
Debt Financing Round: Secured $25 million
UAE-based subscription and on-demand video service (SVOD) STARZPLAY, has secured a $25 million debt financing round from Abu Dhabi-based Ruya Partners, an independent alternative investment firm focusing on private credit investments in developing markets.
Equity Funding Round: Raised $125 million
In addition to the latest round of financing, Starzplay had previously raised $125 million in equity funding since its launch in 2015 from State Street Global Advisors and STARZ, a company owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.
The funding will be used to expand the company’s customer and geographical reach, and acquire and produce original content.
According to Maaz Sheikh, Co-Founder, and CEO of Starzplay:
UAE’s strong tech-entrepreneurial ecosystem, and this new investment will further strengthen Starzplay’s capacity to create original content, expand our geographical footprint and cement our lead status as the MENA region’s digital champion.