LONDON: Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC has hired Marc Antoine d’Halluin as its new CEO following the departure of veteran broadcaster Sam Barnett.
MBC founder Waleed Al-Ibrahim said his new CEO would drive forward the company’s five-year growth plan announced last year and which has a heavy emphasis on developing video on demand (VOD) content.
D’Halluin started his career at Sony Pictures Entertainment and prior to joining MBC Group was the chairman of the Luxembourg-based M7 Group, which operates satellite pay TV in Holland, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. M7 Group was recently sold to Vivendi’s Canal+ Group.
Regional broadcasters including MBC are facing increasing competition from new arrivals to the region in the rapidly growing video on demand sector, dominated by Netflix and Amazon.
In response, MBC Group is ramping up investment in its own Arabic-language VOD platform while also targeting the Arab-speaking diaspora.
Subscription video on demand is expected to more than double in the Middle East and North Africa between 2018 and 2024, according to Digital TV Research.
Last month, MBC’s VOD platform, known as “Shahid” announced the launch of its first-ever original production. Titled “ElDiva,” the drama series stars Cyrine Abdel Nour in the lead role, alongside actor Yacob Alfarhan, and the Egyptian folk singer and actress, Bosy.
“MBC was the first major media company in the region to launch a VOD platform,” said Shahid managing director Johannes Larcher at the time of the launch
“Nearly all the international giants of entertainment have turned or are turning their attention to this type of ‘digital first’ content.”
MBC Group originally launched in London in 1991 as the first private free-to-air Arab satellite TV channel and moved to Dubai in 2002. Today it includes a number of leading channels that include the 24-hour Arabic news channel Al Arabiya.