Movies from ART's extensive Arab content library are to be featured as part of the Istikana on-demand digital video service, as part of new advertising-based revenue sharing deal commencing today (29 March).
One film will now be released for free each week through the Istikana website, which has been serving up an array of online content to viewers in the Arab world on their computer, smartphone, or tablet for the past year.
"We are proud to have ART as a content partner as they are a major player in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). For Istikana this means that our viewers can access some of the amazing content that ART has to offer, whenever they want, on whatever device they want," Samir Abdin, co-founder of Istikana, told Rapid TV News.
"This is the real goal for us. Of course, the signing of a content partner such as ART will encourage others to consider taking part in the online revolution, and that is great for the industry. But our focus is on the viewer, and if it is good for them it is good for us," he added.
ART films that form part of the long term deal include: Ahlam Hind Wa Kamillia, Al Hub Fawqa Hadabet Al Haram, Bakheet Wa 3adeela, Ismail Yaseen Fee Al Jaish, Samak, Laban Tamr Hindi, Muhimma Fee Tel Aviv, Shader Al Samak, Youm Mur Youm Hilu, and Al Kit Kat.
Istikana now has over 25 content partners, including the Jordanian production house Arab Telemedia, providing a range of genres such as drama, cartoons, comedy, documentaries, religious content, children's television and now film.
Some of the content is geographically restricted due to license stipulations; however, Istikana aims to have as much content as possible available to all Arab speakers, regardless of location.
Abdin believes there are two main drivers for growth in online video distribution in the MENA region: broadband penetration and consumer awareness.
"Broadband is growing rapidly in the region, and prices are coming down – so that is not an issue. On the other hand, consumer awareness does need to grow, and Istikana along with other services, are pushing our way forward to get the internet viewers aware of our services. But word spreads very quickly," Abdin adds.