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DUBAI, June 9 (Reuters) – Disney + (DIS.N) launched its streaming service in the Middle East and North Africa on Wednesday, fighting for market share in a region where the population is young, but few people so far use such services.
Disney + said it had gone live in 16 Arab countries and tailored content for the region, including offering Arabic subtitles on most offerings, especially popular content.
Netflix currently leads the region, with more than 6.8 million subscribers, according to Digital TV Research. Starzplay, an Abu Dhabi-based competitor, is number two with just under 2 million, followed by Amazon with 1.4 million.
Some competitors offer original Arabic content. Netflix is already working on other seasons for its popular series “Al Rawabi School for Girls” and “Finding Ola”.
MBC Group’s streaming platform, Shahid, has commissioned an Arabic version of the British comedy “The Office”. The regional competitor OSN has an Arabic version of the American legal series “Suits”.
OSN previously had the rights to carry Disney + original content.
Starzplay also works with original Arabic content, CEO Maaz Sheikh told Reuters last week. He said the region had plenty of room for growth, since flow penetration was 10%.
Digital TV Research predicts that Netflix will increase its base to 11 million by 2027, and that Disney + will then take second place with almost 6.5 million. Amazon reached 4.8 million subscribers by 2027 and Starzplay just under 3 million.
“In my opinion, Disney + is entering the Middle East and North Africa region at a great time. Compared to other power markets, ours is still in its early stages and we have the unique opportunity to grow with it,” Tamim Fares, Disney + director of the region, told Reuters in an email.
At a Disney + launch event at the Dubai Opera, Mohamed Diab, the Egyptian director of Marvel Studios’ “Moon Knight”, promoted the original superhero series, which makes its regional debut.
His wife, Sarah Goher, was also the producer of the series, which features ancient Egyptian gods.
(This story corrects the spelling in section 1)
Reporting by Yousef Saba; Edited by Bradley Perrett and David Evans
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