MBC enhances digital direction with content boost, executive appointment | VOD | News | Rapid TV News
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Pan Arab media group MBC has unveiled ambitious plans for its streaming service Shahid, including an originals arm, stepped up content acquisitions, and the appointment of seasoned executive Johannes Larcher.

MBC Group MD Digital VOD Johannes Larcher 8 Jan 19Larcher (pictured), whose digital background includes a four-year tenure at US streaming service Hulu as SVP International, will lead the growth of Shahid and Shahid Plus as MBC’s managing director, digital & VOD websites.

Tasked by MBC to create “an elevated Shahid service” that will be the leading over the top (OTT) video platform across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Larcher will oversee Shahid Original productions; global content acquisitions; product and technology investments; and partnerships with leading eco-system participants.

With its suite of free-to-air satellite TV channels and online through the Shahid video-on-demand (VOD) service, MBC now reaches 140 million viewers every day across MENA. The move to strengthen its digital offering is as a response to changing audience habits, said the Dubai-based company.

“What remains fundamental to our business is the ability to produce, package and deliver content of the highest quality to people all the way from Morocco in the West across North Africa, to Egypt and then to the Levant, Iraq and then the Gulf. Shahid combines the very best of our pan-Arab television premium content and the local content that delights audiences in all of the 23 countries in the region,” said Sam Barnett, CEO, MBC Group.

“Johannes joins us to lead the next stage in our development plan for Shahid. We are already a destination for the best Arabic content. Now our challenge is to boost the volume of premium video content both from MBC Studios and further afield, to upgrade our technology and to extend our distribution. Johannes brings a wealth of experience to our venture and we’re very excited to welcome him to the Group,” added Barnett.

While at Hulu, Larcher launched and ran Hulu Japan, which has now accumulated over 1.5 million paid subscribers. While their he was responsible for content licensing, customer acquisition, OEM/telco distribution and product/technology. Since leaving Hulu, Larcher has served as a strategic advisor and interim CEO for major broadcasters, studios and private equity firms, for which he evaluated and launched various OTT video services in Europe, the US, and Asia.

Immediately prior to joining MBC Group , he served as CEO and co-founder of VR and AR content production start-up SubVRsive.

“The MENA region’s increasingly digital consumers represent tremendous opportunities for innovation and growth in online video,” said Johannes Larcher, managing director, digital & VOD websites, MBC Group.

“Shahid’s goal is to become the most beloved premium digital video service in MENA. With MBC Group’s support and based on our deep and decades-long understanding of the modern Arab viewer, Shahid will be making its first investments into originally produced, exclusive and cutting-edge content in 2019, which will stream alongside our compelling line-up of regional and global licensed movies, dramas, comedies and family content.

“In addition, we are embarking on a programme to upgrade the quality of our product and technology to best-in-class levels so that viewers can enjoy an intuitive and friction-free experience whenever, wherever and however they watch Shahid. We are also committed to making Shahid accessible and more attractive to more viewers by partnering with distribution, content and other media eco-system partners from the region and across the globe.”