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.
* Econet Media's satellite network Kwese TV has gone on air in Ghana, Zambia and Rwanda, with other African countries soon to follow, Telecompaper reported Jan. 30. The complete Kwese TV programming can be accessed via satellite or through a set-top box for $25 a month, excluding VAT. Kwese TV also offers a pay-as-you-watch option, available in three-day and seven-day passes, according to the report.
* Starz's over-the-top platform Starz Play struck a multiyear distribution deal with Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros International Television Distribution for the Middle East and North Africa, Rapid TV News reported Jan. 23, citing a company statement. Starz Play subscribers can now access more than 6,000 hours of entertainment, including 1,800 hours of dedicated Arabic content and more than 2,500 hours dubbed into French. Starz Play's content lineup will now include TV shows from Warner Bros. such as "The Flash, "Legends of Tomorrow," "Supergirl" and the crime drama "Blindspot."
* The Nigerian unit of Chinese pay-TV distributor StarTimes upgraded its basic bouquet package to offer more channels and viewing options without extra charges, NexTV News Africa reported Jan. 30. The revamped offering provides varied options of channels including BBC and CNBC as well as access to all Star Times sports channels.
* Middle Eastern and North African pay-TV operator Orbit Showtime Network entered an agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship Ltd. to air live fights as well as pre- and post-event programming of the Ultimate Fighter reality TV series, NexTV News Africa reported Jan. 27.
* South African Broadcasting Corp.'s SABC Sport will air Extreme Fighting Championship's events beginning Feb. 11 under a multi-year partnership with mixed martial arts organization, NexTV News Africa reported Jan. 26. The program will run two hours each Saturday evening plus the screening of three-hour live events which will feature five main-card bouts.
* Naspers Ltd's ShowMax installed caching servers in Nairobi, Kenya, in partnership with submarine cable operator SEACOM, in hopes of faster response time and less buffering, TechCentral reported Jan. 23. The company's move is also in line with its plans to expand its service in east Africa.
* The British Broadcasting Corp. will air "Planet Earth II" on BBC Earth in South Africa on Feb. 5, NexTV News Africa reported Jan. 20.
* ShowMax is seeking to lock deals with telco operators in the sub-Saharan African market to boost its VOD services in the region, TechCentral reported Jan. 18.
* Starz Play struck a deal with 21st Century Fox Inc. unit 20th Century Fox Television Distribution for access to Fox films and other related content, Telecompaper reported Jan. 16. The deal includes films such as "The Hills Have Eyes 2," "The Heat," "How to Train Your Dragon 2," "The Croods" and "Epic," along with the first five seasons of "American Horror Story" and the first four seasons of "Homeland."
* Ericsson AB will offer several DreamWorks Animation LLC. films on its Nuvu service as part of its video-on-demand deal with Fox, Telecompaper reported Jan. 16. The agreement also provides for exclusive second pay output rights covering sub-Saharan Africa. Comcast Corp. owns DreamWorks Animation.
* Turner Broadcasting System Inc. launched its Boing channel on Tanzanian pay TV platform AzamTV, Telecompaper reported Jan. 13. The channel, which targets viewers ages seven to 14, will be available in new Turner markets such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.
* Canadian media company BroadbandTV expanded its reach to a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, according to a Jan. 6 news release.
* BeIN Media Group LLC will continue to air channels from Prime Entertainment Group in the Middle East and North Africa under a renewed two year-contract between the companies, World Screen reported Jan. 6.