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Shahid launches first original drama as MENA SVOD battle intensifies

The battle for Middle Eastern SVOD subscribers intensified this week with the news that MBC Group’s VOD platform Shahid is poised to air its first original drama series on November 27. Called El Diva the new show explores the world of

Johannes Larcher

talent-spotting and stars Cyrine Abdel Nour in the lead role. Nour has previously starred in MBC dramas such as Ruby and Al Hayba: Al Hasad, which was released in May this year.

The MENA region is one of the most competitive in the world for SVOD and is currently led by Starz Play and Netflix. Shahid, backed by MBC, has also established a strong base in the market, with around a 15% share (IHS Markit).

Earlier this year, Starz Play CEO Maaz Sheikh also announced plans to produce the platform’s first Arabic original in the UAE. However both platforms are playing catch up with Netflix, which has so far unveiled three originals. The latest, Paranormal, is based on horror books by Ahmed Khaled Tawfik and is being produced in Egypt.

MBC appointed former Hulu executive Johannes Larcher to head its originals strategy at the start of 2019. He said investment in a slate of originals is a key component of the platform’s five-year growth and expansion plan.