The Middle East Broadcasting Centre, MBC, has announced an all-new version of its streaming platform Shahid. The group has partnered with Disney and Fox to bring more than 3,000 hours of content to the biggest streaming library of Arabic content.
The tie-up means Shahid users will now gain access to some of the world's biggest movies. It means Marvel will be coming to the platform, as well as Disney's animated classics.
Both Fox and Disney obviously have an extensive back catalog of films that will now be on the service with Arabic subtitles, too. What this means for US-owned video-on-demand service, Disney+'s presence in the region, is still unknown.
But perhaps more importantly, it means a monumental investment in original production and content.
MBC group chief executive Marc Antoine d’Halluin said: "Over the next two years, we aim to substantially increase the size of our investment into drama productions, thus increasing them fourfold, of which the majority will be original and exclusive content."
To coincide with the announcement, MBC is offering a discount of up to 70 per cent off the Shahid VIP subscription, which will be valid until the subscriber decides to cancel. The offer is valid until February 29. The standard monthly price is Dh19.99 per month, but the reduced offer makes the subscription Dh6.99 per month. The standard annual package is Dh169.99 for a year.
Shahid already offers a catalogue of MBC's own shows, such as Beirut Bride, Project Runway Arabia and The Voice Arabia, as well as dubbed or subtitled foreign content, from British TV shows such as Top Gear to Hollywood action, Turkish soaps and Korean romcoms.
The unveiling took place at an exclusive event held at the Dubai Opera in Downtown Dubai. Shahid’s new slogan: “It’s Our Time” took centre stage, illuminating the emirate’s Burj Khalifa tower.
MBC group chairman Walid Al Ibrahim said the group aims to provide an advanced digital platform that competes with the best in the world. “We want to take control of our narratives, showcasing our stories to the rest of the world through the very best in original films, series and media content,” he said.
“We are going to continue to provide the best media experience in the entire region; engineering ideas and uniting the very best in creative talent. It’s our time.”
The group also announced the addition of two new channels on the streaming service. Shahid Premieres will focus on first-look exclusives from the world of cinema and television. Shahid Originals will offer local and regional productions, including long-form content such as drama series and short-form content, both of which will be exclusive to the streaming platform.
MBC's top-rated channels are included in the new Shahid, which include nine HD channels, streamed live, as well as a catch-up service.
During the unveiling ceremony at Downtown Dubai, d'Halluin demonstrated figures from the track-record of the company over the past decade, stating: "During the past ten years, MBC has acquired and produced approximately 46,000 hours of Arabic-language entertainment content, valued at an estimated $1.3 billion. This is broken down into 26,000 hours of media, entertainment and other content, plus 20,000 hours of television series, which includes about 600 dramas."
D'Halluin continued: "Shahid will certainly benefit from MBC's proven experience in investment and growth to provide the best and most diverse international digital media experience in the region.”