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Warner Bros. Intl. TV in Multi-Year Deal With Starz Play Arabia

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ROME – Starz Play Arabia has forged a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution for exclusive rights to several hit shows, including “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Supergirl,” which will start streaming across the Middle East and North Africa on the platform this month.

The deal takes in the 19 MENA countries covered by Starz Play, which is the first Starz-branded service outside the U.S.

A statement said the pact will “enable Starz Play to acquire more premium content” from Warner Bros. TV, and indicates the start of a strategic relationship in a market where SVOD is starting to heat up. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Starz Play launched in the region in 2015, beating Netflix to the punch. It seems to be gaining some traction, recently touting more than 1,500 new signups a day for a content offer that is heavy on Hollywood fare. Its top territory is Saudi Arabia, where it has a partnership with top telecom operator Saudi Telecom. Amazon Prime Video became available across the Middle East in December 2016. Digital media growth in the region is forecast by PwC at 17.6%  between 2016 and 2020.

Besides “The Flash” (pictured) and other signature superhero shows, produced by The CW Network, the deal also includes NBC crimer “Blindspot” and all 10 seasons of “Friends,” which Starz Play will stream on demand.

“This is a landmark deal which adds some of the most demanded and searched titles to our library,” Khaled Benchouche, Starz Play SVP of Programming and Acquisition, said in a statement. “We have been successful in attracting top studios to our platform and we are delighted to work with Warner Bros. which is one of the most reputable names in the industry.”

Starz Play has relationships with Disney, Sony, Showtime, Paramount, BBC Worldwide, 20th Century Fox and CBS. Earlier this month, it announced a multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and an agreement with Sonar Entertainment to bring Tom Hardy TV drama “Taboo” to Middle East audiences.

Shows that have been strong performers on Starz Play include Starz original “Power,” Showtime series “Billions,” and the History Channel’s “Vikings.”

U.S. shows are watched in original language, with one-click Arabic subtitling available in most MENA territories but dubbed into French for North African subscribers.

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