DUBAI: Regional streaming service StarzPlay has signed a multi-year agreement with Japanese anime providers TV Tokyo, adding over a thousand episodes of anime content to its library for subscribers in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
“The popularity of anime in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, is well-established. I recall an Arab News survey, which reported that 75 percent of respondents across age groups ranked one of the longest-running Japanese manga series as their favorite anime of all time. A Saudi-produced anime has also aired on Japanese TV in the past,” Maaz Sheikh, co-founder and CEO of StarzPlay, told Arab News.
The anime content includes such popular productions as “Naruto” and its sequel “Naruto Shippuden,” “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations” and “Fruits Basket.”
Yukio Kawasaki, director at TV Tokyo Corporation, said: “One of our differentiating strengths is the extensive line-up of anime series that we distribute, several of them having gained cult status and contributed to the global popularity of the genre.”
The partnership includes all episodes of the “Naruto” shows as well as new episodes of “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations” on a simulcast basis. The streaming service also has the rights to the third season of “Fruits Basket,” which is scheduled to release in April 2021.
StarzPlay has already announced two partnerships this year: Discovery+, which includes global shows like “Shark Week” and “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (Uncensored),” as well as the full lineup of shows on the Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat; and Abu Dhabi Media to live-stream UFC content and events across the Middle East.
StarzPlay’s strategy this year includes such content partnerships to expand its offering, and it has resulted in positive growth in the first weeks of January, with numbers increasing three-fold from January 2019. Average daily consumption has risen to 110 minutes versus 35 minutes, according to Sheikh.
“We are looking at more strategic partnerships to offer diverse content to our subscribers,” added Sheikh. “We want to be the one-stop-shop for content in the MENA region and are confident of the growth in our subscriber base in 2021.”