Inked this afternoon, the deal will allow Umniah 3G subscribers to access Istikana’s online trove of Arabic videos by visiting fun.umniah.com. Thanks to a deal with Arab Radio & Television, one of the region’s biggest archives of film content, the VOD platform now boasts over 4000 hours in total.
This marks Istikana’s first deal with a telecom company, and the first in the region between a VOD portal and any telecom company in the region. It’s a trend the Istikana team is hoping to continue, says Abdin.
While viewing shows on the Istikana website is currently free, the company is moving towards a paid model on the whole. Like it is for Anghami, which recently partnered with Jordan’s Orange to offer subscribers streaming music bundles, deals with telecoms are becoming a primary method for distributing and monetizing entertainment content.
For Istikana, a deal with Umniah ensures that the platform will be able to reach a userbase beyond those that browse online and use its app on Samsung Smart TVs; while smart TV is certainly a platform to look to for future growth, its uptake in the region is dwarfed by the number of mobile subscribers.
Mobile penetration reached 96% on average throughout the Middle East in June 2012. Jordan now boasts a 138% penetration rate (over 8.7 million mobile subscriptions) as of last September, and may even see the entrance of a fourth telecom operator soon.
“Telecom companies are going to be a player in this new content market that is rapidly emerging in the region,” says Istikana co-founder Samer Abdin. “People like paying via mobile. The reception has been great.”