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Streaming platform Shahid to drive growth, says MBC TV

MBC Shahid Ashghal Shaqa Shahid
Ashghal Shaqa, or 'Apartment Chronicles', the most popular show on the Shahid streaming platform
  • Subscriptions grow 40% in 2023
  • Nearly four million subscribers
  • Net profit for 2023 up 45%

The Arabic TV network MBC says its new Shahid streaming platform will lead its growth after subscriptions grew 40 percent in 2023 to nearly four million. 

The Saudi-owned group recently completed an IPO on the Saudi stock exchange, requiring it to open its books to the public for the first time. 

It reported net profit in 2023 of only SAR69 million ($18 million), a 45 percent increase on the previous year. 

MBC’s CEO Sam Barnett told the Saudi Arabian financial news portal Argaam that the improvement was partly due to Shahid’s “outstanding performance”, including an increase in subscribers and digital advertising. 

“We also managed to significantly reduce Shahid’s net losses, which further enhanced our bottom line,” he said. 

In an interview last week with MBC Group-owned Al Arabiya TV Barnett described Shahid as MBC’s “growth mechanism”, with growing consumer appetite for on-demand content and the platform’s ability to cater to what he called niche markets. 

Barnett said MBC would convert its subscription and viewership gains during Ramadan into long-term customers, using data analytics to develop targeted content and focusing on non-Gulf Arabic markets. 

MBC set up Shahid in 2020 after the success of the streaming service Netflix, and both currently air the region’s top dramas. 

Last month MBC Group acquired a 14 percent stake in the Abu Dhabi-based music streaming company Anghami to expand its foothold in the media streaming market, tap into Anghami’s younger demographic and promote its own content libraries. 

Barnett said MBC was building a new production complex in the Al-Narjis area of north Riyadh, including three film and five TV studios. MBC said last year that it would use the IPO proceeds to repay loans and develop more content for Shahid. 

MBC, established more than 30 years ago, is one of the largest media and entertainment companies in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Founder and chairman Waleed Al Ibrahim owns 40 percent, while Al Istedamah Holding, which is controlled by the Saudi finance ministry, owns the remaining 60 percent. 

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