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.