Istikana, the ‘Hulu of the Middle East’, strikes massively important content deal

Istikana, the ‘Hulu of the Middle East’, strikes massively important content deal

Istikana, a Middle Eastern site providing on-demand video content, has just signed a deal with one of the region’s biggest film suppliers, ART, giving it access to one of the largest movie archives in the Middle East.

We took a look at Istikana when it first launched, and while it certainly can be labeled as a Middle Eastern Hulu, the site does have one interesting twist to it – and that is that it relies heavily on the nostalgia factor.

Istikana provides viewers with the opportunity to not only see recent TV shows, plays and documentaries, but also to delve into an library of older cartoons and programs that Istikana’s ‘Generation X’ audience most likely watched growing up.

The latest content deal that Istikana has signed will bring far more films to the site than than we’ve seen in the past. One new ART film will be released on a weekly basis, every Thursday, so users can be sure to always find new content to check out on the site.

Istikana co-founder and content manager Tareq Abu-Lughod explains the significance of this deal in particular: “This is a very important and strategic cooperation. ART owns one of the largest film libraries in the region and this partnership will provide our visitors with a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the most popular Arabic films legally, fully, in high quality and for free.”

The market is catching on

The deal is a significant step in bridging the gap between traditional and new media in the Middle East.

Istikana co-founder and business development manager Samer Abdin told The Next Web, “I think part of the appeal of Istikana for a company like ART is not only our general reputation amongst content owners for being straight-up guys, but also the credibility and breadth of the technology platform.” He explains, “We are the only Arabic OTT video-on-demand service that is truly multi-screen. Viewers can access Istikana seamlessly across PCs, smartphones, tablets, and we have smart TV implementations on GoogleTV and Plex – each optimised for the particular device with more to come.”

Istikana gives its users the opportunity to access its content regardless of device, platform or even place. Samer explains, “I think the possibility of such broad access really opens the eyes of content owners like ART to the future of media consumption which is on-demand, anytime, anywhere. This trend is strong and growing by virtue of the simple fact that people want that access – and consumers always get what they want (eventually). More and more content owners.”

Istikana has enjoyed impressive traffic from day one, reaching 1 million visits within four months of launching, and has since gone on to push its traffic up to a huge 100,000 users a day. A recent update to its mobile platform has had a large hand in increasing the site’s traffic.

As one of the Middle East’s largest film suppliers, and a company firmly entrenched in traditional media, this latest deal is a significant step forward for the region. Samer explains, “The market is catching on to what we at Istikana fundamentally believe: the virtuous circle that the more content is out there, the more consumers there will be, which encourages more content owners/producers to go online. This is definitely happening in the MENA region and we are really glad to be a first mover in the space.”

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