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Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to roll out a strong lineup of new shows to maintain engagement

DUBAI: Global real entertainment provider Discovery Inc. launched its Discovery+ streaming service in the Middle East and North Africa in partnership with StarzPlay in January 2021.

In February 2021, Discovery+ signed a long-term partnership with the Saudi Telecom Company through its media arm, Intigral, to bring content to Jawwy TV subscribers.

The content lineup includes shows such as “Shark Week”, “MythBusters”, “NASA’s Unexplained Files” and “Say Yes to the Dress”, as well as the full range of programs from the Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat, making it made the first time its full-length television shows were available outside of the broadcast channel.

In April 2022, AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit and Discovery announced a merger resulting in the formation of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc, whose content portfolio includes Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO, Cartoon Network; Discovery+ and HBO Max streaming services; and franchises such as “Batman” and “Harry Potter”.

Arab News caught up with Jamie Cooke, who has been promoted to chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery CEE, Baltics, Middle East, Mediterranean and Turkey in June, to learn more about the company’s plans in the region.

“For me, there are three key elements: increasing the accessibility and reach of the content; tell stories about and from the region through world-class storytelling; and, most importantly, to inspire people through entertainment – ​​which we all need right now in the world,” he said.

“We believe in the agility of identifying opportunities to strengthen our distribution strategy and expand our 360 entertainment ecosystem,” he said.

With this in mind, Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG, the largest media group in the MENA region, announced their long-term partnership to launch “Asharq Discovery”, a new free-to-air Arabic-language channel exclusively for audiences in the MENA region. , in September.

“We recognized that in order to be a successful global player, it is essential to have relevant content tailored to each region in which we operate,” said Cooke.

The company also produced the documentary “COVID-19: Dubai” in partnership with the Dubai Government Media Office; the first Arabic franchise of “Say Yes to The Dress” with StarzPlay; and an Arabic-language travel game show, “Dare to Take Risks”, in partnership with Intigral – all of which were entirely filmed and produced in the region.

The company plans to continue rolling out “a strong lineup of new shows to maintain engagement for the network,” including “Star Chef,” a talent show for the MENA region, and two shows for Fatafeat: “Chef on a Bike,” which champions a Saudi horsewoman chef, and “Musical Food Show,” which highlights a modern Arab family and their culinary culture through the art of music.

The strategy of Warner Bros. Discovery for the region includes “strong partners with an innate understanding of the geographic market,” Cooke said.

He added, “Our ubiquity in the region is not only due to our accessibility in streaming, linear networks, FTA networks and the gaming sphere, but also to the successful partnerships we have built with the biggest giants. entertainment and broadcasting from the MENA region: StarzPlay, Intigral, SRMG, BeIN, OSN, MBC, Etisalat, du and Ooredoo.

In addition to shows and movies, the company also plans to expand its repertoire of content formats.

“We’re introducing new formats that have never been done by the network or other Arab entertainment players,” Cooke said.

For example, the company launched its first music playlist, with cooking recipes as lyrics. He also recently wrapped filming “Escape Kitchen,” which gamifies a regular cooking show with escape rooms and puzzles.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to merge Discovery+ and HBO’s HBO Max streaming platform into a single platform. The new service will launch in the United States next summer, followed by Latin America later this year, select European markets in 2024 and key Asia-Pacific territories, Cooke said.

However, there are no plans to launch the merged service in the MENA region where Discovery+ is available through StarzPlay and Jawwy TV and HBO through OSN+.

As the streaming industry becomes increasingly crowded, streaming services are looking to diversify their revenue streams with new offerings such as Netflix’s games.

Jamie Cooke, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery CEE, Baltic, Middle East, Mediterranean and Turkey. (Provided)

“I believe the next step for streaming is to demonstrate a sustainable business model that balances subscriber growth with profitability. Sounds simple, but it requires a truly compelling consumer offering with must-have content as well as a deep library of ‘stories that keep people sticking with the product,’ Cooke said.

Cooke acknowledged that the market is crowded and “the global economy is causing many consumers to prioritize their purchasing decision”, but, for Warner Bros. Discovery, “streaming is just one part of our varied approach, and we intend to employ the full range of distribution options, including linear, theatrical, licensing and D2C, to best meet the needs and ever-changing consumer preferences,” Cooke explained.

While streaming is one of the company’s “biggest businesses,” she doesn’t think “putting all our programs in one window is good for the consumer, or a good business model,” Cooke said. .

He believes the company’s greatest strength is its ability to monetize “our unparalleled collection of content in multiple ways to provide consumers with choice and maximize asset value.”

“At the heart of everything we do is quality and an unparalleled story. Will there be obstacles? Of course. Will it be easy? No chance. There will be challenges that we can control and others we won’t be able to. But as long as we remain committed to delivering world-class content, I’m optimistic about the future of the company.