Teething trouble for Egypt’s Watch iT | VOD | News | Rapid TV News
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Egypt’s first video streaming app Watch iT, which launched this month in time for Ramadan, has received criticism for both its expense and the technical issues it has experienced.

Watch iT Egyptian Media Group logo 13 May 2019The platform, owned by the Egyptian Media Group, offers 15 exclusive series produced in Egypt especially for Ramadan, for a monthly fee of EGP99 (US$5.80) - following a seven day free trial.

A six-month subscription costs EGP 555 per year, and an annual subscription is charged at EGP 999. However, with the average monthly salary in Egypt at around $220, the service is too expensive for many.

Complaints have also been raised about technical difficulties , and local media has reported the video-on-demand service has been a victim of hacking.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is the Arab television industry’s busiest season, as families join to watch content from the breaking of the fast in the evening until dawn. With the trend to internet viewing, many have streamed series on YouTube after they premiere on TV, and it is this audience Watch iT is hoping to entice. Egypt is the Arab world's most populous country and more than 40% of its 100 million inhabitants have internet access.

Egyptian Media Group CEO Tamer Mursi, speaking after the app launched in early May, said his company had played a "modernising" role in Egypt's television industry and furthered "the protection of (intellectual property) rights”.

Egypt, like the rest of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) suffers from a high rate of content piracy, with a population unused to paying for television thanks to the proliferation of free-to-air satellite channels.

“Most of the global content producers have for some time aimed at protecting the intellectual property rights of the content. The content is therefore not available on free platforms in the high quality required by modern viewers; however, it can be available on specialised digital platforms,” said Egyptian Media Group’s Mursi.

“The new platform will seek a lot of media rights in different areas to entertain the viewers.”

As well as YouTube, Watch iT faces competition from free Egyptian streaming platforms such as Shoof Drama and Shoot Max; MENA-wide subscription-based platforms such as MBC’s Shahid Plus and OSN’s Wavo; and global streaming giant Netflix.