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Africa and Middle East video spotlight: YouTube debuts hub for Arabic TV series

In this monthly 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.


* YouTube launched Mosalsalat, a new hub for Arabic TV series dating back to 1962, Telecompaper reported Sept. 29. Content on Mosalsalat is arranged by country of origin and genre, and reportedly features more than 7,000 hours of Arabic series. YouTube partnered with broadcasters such as Syria's Al Watan TV Network and Egypt's Egyptian Television and Radio Union to acquire content for the channel. YouTube previously launched Aflam, which centers on Arabic films. Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. owns YouTube.


* Vivendi SA unit Canal Plus Group SA rolled out its African digital terrestrial television service Easy TV in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital city of Kinshasa, in partnership with Telenum DRC, Rapid TV News reported Oct. 11. Viewers in Kinshasa will reportedly get access to more than 30 Congolese, African and international channels for 8,000 Congolese francs. Easy TV previously launched in Lubumbashi in the DRC and in Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo.

* Pay TV operator StarTimes launched its Star Times satellite TV service in Ghana, NexTV News Africa reported Oct. 10. Ghanian users will reportedly have access to over 440 channels across various formats such as entertainment, documentaries, news, sports, films, religion, fashion, telenovelas, music and TV series.

* Starz Play is expanding in the North Africa region via partnerships with Morocco's Maroc Telecom and Vodafone UK's Egyptian unit Vodafone Egypt, NexTV News Africa reported Oct. 10. Starz Play offers Hollywood films, documentaries, kids' content. U.S. series and Arabic programming in full HD and 4K.

* Econet Media's Kwesé Sports struck a deal with Modern Times Group MTG AB's e-sports unit ESL, enabling the African broadcaster to distribute ESL content and host events across Africa, Econet announced Oct. 7. Kwesé Sports will also launch a new 24-hour channel dedicated to e-sports in the coming months.

* MultiChoice launched a smaller and cheaper DStv Explora decoder which records less content. The company said, however, that content on its Catch Up, Catch Up Plus and ShowMax services will make up for the diminished recording capability of the new decoder, Telecompaper reported Oct. 6.

* East African triple-play operator Zuku added TRACE TV channels Trace Mziki and Trace Gospel to its pay TV platform, Telecompaper reported Oct. 3. Both channels will be available on Zuku's classic and premium bouquets.

* Saudi Arabia's Saudi Telecom Company and Starz's over-the-top platform Starz Play have struck a partnership, enabling a new catalog of more than 5,000 hours of films, TV series and kids' content, NexTV News Africa reported Sept. 27. STC users will reportedly be able to access Starz Play free of charge for 60 days, after which unlimited access costs 7.50 Saudi riyals per week. Content will either be in full HD or 4K quality, with TV series offered at the same time as their U.S. release, according to the report.

* Econet Media launched its Kwesé Free Sports channel in Rwanda, the company announced Sept. 27. Kwesé Free Sports offers 24-hour coverage of exclusive sporting events such as the NBA, Formula One, Copa del Rey, English Premier League and Brazilian soccer.