"Being open to collaborating with OTTs more aggressively would pay off for the telcos" says Dahan.

By providing locally relevant content that caters to the various diaspora in the region, Viu aims to position itself as the top-of-the-mind OTT app in all the markets it’s operational in, says Sherif Dahan, regional director, OTT, Middle East & North Africa, Vuclip.

CommsMEA: There are so many OTT offerings in the market. What exactly is your unique positioning and strategy?

Sherif Dahan: By getting viu to the region, we are trying to be locally relevant to the Middle East population. We are live in eight countries. We want the content to be relevant to the different diaspora living in the region, whether the locals, Indians, or Filipinos. We don’t wish to be the providers who feed people content irrespective of their preferences. For example, our content will be relevant to an Indian opening the app in Dubai or Doha or Saudi Arabia because he will find movies, TV shows, series, music videos, relevant to him; in addition to premium content from the Western world that he might also be interested in. We are trying to provide content that would interest various age groups and ethnicities.

We have been in the region for five years as Vuclip and now we launched our OTT offering, Viu. We also have lot of customer insights that we are building on- what people like, when they consume the content, etc. Based on these insights, we tailor our offerings for the audience.

CommsMEA: What kind of content partnerships have you gone for recently?

Dahan:This is an ongoing process. For example, we added two top Arabic movie titles that were just released in October last year and these were made available on Viu even before the pay TV platform, which is an exception in this region. We also have a lot of latest Bollywood movies. We also keep adding titles which are the first runs in the region.

CommsMEA: What kind of business model do you follow- are you targeting to sell more to a selected audience or increase the size of the audience overall?

Dahan:We have a unique freemium model, wherein even if you don’t pay for the monthly subscription, you can still enjoy part of the premium content for free. Piracy is a major challenge in the region. People aren’t used to paying for media- the culture is changing gradually though.

We definitely want to reach as far as we can go –within our target age group which is 18-35- which also happens to be the major age group in the region.

CommsMEA: Are you open to partnering with telcos?

Dahan:Definitely yes. Our company believes in partnerships with telcos as well as non-telcos. We have had success stories in other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, wherein we have partnered with several telcos by showing them value.

CommsMEA: What kind of value do you provide to the telcos?

Dahan:We provide value in the form of increased data consumption and reduced churn. When telcos provide an OTT subscription with an existing data package, it helps to increase ARPU and reduce churn. Even when the telcos have their own OTT/IPTV offering, it’s a fact that no one can have all the content in the world; hence there always will be room for partnerships for content.

Telcos in the region are very advanced - they invest a lot in the infrastructure, etc. They see the wave of OTT that’s out there. Being open to collaborating with OTTs more aggressively would pay off for them.

CommsMEA: What is the target for Viu?

Dahan:We wish to have Viu positioned as the top of the mind OTT brand in the region, in each and every country we operate in.