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.
* Bloomberg will launch a financial news channel in Saudi Arabia under a joint venture with publishing house Saudi Research & Marketing, Advanced Television reported Sept. 25. The Bloomberg Al Arabiya broadcast channel will launch within a year and the magazine will launch in about six months before the channel's launch.
* Snap Inc. has removed Al Jazeera Media Network's channel on Snapchat Discover in response from a request by the Saudi Arabian government, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 17. The Qatar-based broadcasting company's content remains available to Snapchat users in other countries in the Middle East.
* Following the launch of Kwesé Free Sports in Kenya last year, African media company Econet Media rolled out the entire offering under Kwesé TV in the country, Telecompaper reported Oct. 5. The satellite service is offering a free 30-day subscription to new customers as part of the launch. The service will be available in a pay-as-you-watch model, which will allow customers to pay for three-, seven- and 30-day passes for the entire channel bouquet.
* Starz's over-the-top platform Starz Play teamed up with Orange SA's Orange Egypt, which allows the operator's subscribers to have six months' access to about 6,500 hours of Hollywood movies and TV shows, Digital TV Europe reported Oct. 2.
* Samsung Electronics Iberia SA and beIN SPORTS' beIN CONNECT struck a deal that will enable the broadcast of several soccer games from La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in 4K quality on Samsung Smart TVs via the beIN CONNECT app, Advanced Television reported Sept. 22.
* BBC World Service will be launching new programs for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Telecompaper reported Sept. 21. The British Broadcasting Corp. unit will offer a number of regional and international news programs.
* Pay TV operator Zap has discontinued the distribution of Portuguese channel Sport TV Africa2, Telecompaper reported Sept. 20, citing Jornal de Negocios. Sport TV Africa 2 has been on air since march 2012.
* Turkish channel natural TV has entered into an agreement to use SES SA's Astra 2G satellite to air the free-to-air channel in the West African region, Digital TV Europe reported Sept. 18.
* Spanish satellite operator Hispasat SA and teleport operator Media Broadcast Satellite entered into an agreement to provide 4K content distribution services in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Hispasat in a Sept. 17 news release said the agreement will allow the company to offer customers "high value-added" services to facilitate the deployment of 4K services in Europe and to make the technology available to more viewers quickly.
* Streaming device maker Roku Inc. and Econet Media struck a "Roku Powered" license agreement for the launch of streaming TV service, Kwesé Play. Kwesé Play's service and streaming player are available in South Africa, which leverage the Roku streaming platform. The partnership will enable Roku to expand its footprint in Africa, according to a Sept. 14 statement by Andrew Ferrone, vice president of pay TV at Roku.
* BBC Worldwide Ltd. on Sept. 14 announced that it has entered into a distribution deal with Kwesè TV, wherein the BBC's unit will air about 50 hours of programming on Kwesè channels across 17 African markets.
* Orange SA renewed its content distribution deal with Netflix Inc., allowing Orange customers across the globe to have access to Netflix's catalog of films and TV series, Netflix announced Sept. 14. The partnership includes Orange's units in Africa and the Middle East.
Analysts: Local rivals, market conditions challenge Netflix in Middle East: As Netflix rolls out in a range of new markets, the over-the-top giant faces stiff challenges, varying from local competition to unknown market conditions.