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Kwesé acquires stake in iflix; OSN, Netflix team up

In this monthly Africa and Middle East video spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different African and Middle Eastern markets.

TOP NEWS

* Econet Media Ltd.-owned pay TV operator Kwesé has acquired a "significant stake" in the African business of streaming service iflix. According to a Feb. 21 news release, the transaction will allow Kwesé to include iflix Africa in its mobile offering for customers across its footprint in sub-Saharan Africa. In turn, iflix will be able to expand its reach in the region.

* Middle East pay TV provider OSN has entered into a partnership with Netflix Inc. The deal will give OSN subscribers access to Netflix content via the OSN Box that will be launched at the end of the second quarter, according to a Feb. 18 news release.

OTHER NEWS

* Nigeria is working on a free-to-air TV platform and wants to combine digital television with set-top boxes, Advanced Television reported Feb. 26, citing a statement from the country's Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

* India's Star TV has extended its agreement to distribute its channels in the Middle East and North Africa through OSN, Rapid TV News reported Feb. 13. In addition to the existing nine channels from their previous deal, the new agreement will also include Asianet Movies.

* Saudi Arabia is targeting ownership of about 60% in Middle East Broadcast Corp. as part of the government's move to seize assets from individuals involved in anti-corruption investigation, Reuters reported Feb. 8, citing sources. A government official has denied the reported takeover plan.

* Saudi Telecom Co. has tentatively agreed to a deal with the government's General Sports Authority to air Saudi Arabian professional soccer matches for 6.6 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, Reuters reported Feb. 6. If finalized, MBC would be removed of the rights to air the matches. MBC entered into a 10-year deal to air the matches in July 2014 for 4.1 billion riyals.

* Kwesé TV denied reports that it has submitted a bid for rights to air the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League, Telecompaper reported Feb. 6. While the Econet Media unit has entered into rights agreements with local sports federations, a bid for the Premier Soccer League is not part of its current plans.

* Ooredoo Qatar launched new 4K channels, Travelxp 4K and Love Nature 4K, under its Ooredoo TV Essentials offering, Telecompaper reported Feb. 6.

* BeIN Media Group LLC on Feb. 1 announced that it will begin airing Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. lifestyle channels Food Network, Fine Living, HGTV and Travel Channel.

* Google Inc. is planning to boost its Arabic language content on the internet and will assign a dedicated team for the plan, according to Google MENA Managing Director Lino Cattaruzzi, The National reported Feb. 1. The team will be based in the tech company's regional headquarters in Dubai.