In a move first reported in Variety, MBC has hired former Hulu executive Johannes Larcher to head its digital operations and with the launch of a Shahid Originals unit. The US-Austrian national worked for Hulu for 5 years to 2013 and was responsible for the broadcaster’s activities outside of the US, including its launch in Japan.
Waleed Al-Ibrahim of Saudi Arabia is engaged in a five-year plan to take advantage of the region’s enthusiasm for streaming services.
MBC has launched a Shahid Originals unit that will draw inevitable comparisons with Netflix, which is also producing content for the region.
In addition to MBC’s Shahid, Starz Play and Weyyak also have a following in the region. In December, the South Korean manufacturer Samsung said it would include the services as part of a new SmartPack, available to purchases of its models. The app has been available on Samsung since 2014.
Shahid offers arguably the world’s biggest library of Arabic content, including MBC’s original showas, such as Project Runway Arabia and The Voice Arabia. It also includes subtitled and dubbed content from other markets.
Netflix remains the most popular platform in the region.