Streaming app for Ramadan TV shows launched in Egypt

Traditional Ramadan lanterns called "fanous" are displayed for sale at a stall, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt on May 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 07 May 2019

Streaming app for Ramadan TV shows launched in Egypt

  • Every year, thousands of Egyptians spend fasting hours watching TV dramas, with others doing so in the evenings after breaking their fast

CAIRO: The Egyptian Media Co. has launched a new TV streaming app called Watch iT, which allows users to watch Ramadan shows for monthly or yearly subscription fees. It will initially host 15 shows.

Every year, thousands of Egyptians spend fasting hours watching TV dramas, with others doing so in the evenings after breaking their fast. For many, the free video website YouTube is their host of choice.

But the new app will mean that is no longer an option for many people, however, as the company has banned the 15 shows hosted on the Watch iT app from airing on YouTube.

The move will put many in a tight spot, forced either to see the shows on satellite TV, or to pay for the app.

The service, which is downloadable through Google Play Store and iOS, has garnered a lot of criticism from Egyptians on social media.

“I think the idea is doomed to fail. It’s just an attempt to create their own Netflix
and monopolize the market without studying it or understanding the nature of their audience,” Rafiq Mahfouz, a 25-year-old writer, told Arab News.

Watch iT comes at a price many Egyptians cannot afford to pay. Downloading the app is free, but actually watching the shows costs EGP 99 ($5.77) per month, with a partial subscription costing EGP 555 per year, and a full subscription EGP 999.

“They can’t monopolize this market without studying it very well. The service was announced two days ago, the app itself is quite a mess, the pricing is unreasonably high, and their service was down on the first day of Ramadan,” Mahfouz added.

Despite the massive launch and promotional campaign, users are complaining about technical issues and being unable to create accounts.

“The majority of Egyptians are not familiar with the concept of pay-to-watch. These TV dramas are mainly targeting the middle class, who cannot afford these prices,” said Mahfouz.

Other streaming platforms in Egypt, like Shoof Drama and Shoof Max, are offering their services for this year’s Ramadan shows for free on their websites.

Ramadan in Egypt is an enormous season for TV, with new programs and shows being released every year.


Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

Updated 7 min 40 sec ago

Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

  • 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea
  • It came days after Libyan navy patrols “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats

TRIPOLI: The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.
He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.
It came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli,” Kacem added.
The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometers west of the capital.
According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.
One body was also recovered by the coast guard.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.
They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord.
On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.
Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organizations.