TBI’s 2023 Predictions: Maaz Sheikh, CEO & co-founder, StarzPlay

Maaz Sheikh

As the new year gets underway, TBI talks to some of the biggest names in the global TV industry to get their thoughts on the major trends and best shows coming up in the next 12 months.

Here, Maaz Sheikh, CEO and co-founder of Dubai-based StarzPlay, talks a scripted expansion, a streaming short-form shift and The Lazarus Project.

What is the biggest growth area for your company this year?

Expansion into Arabic originals is going to be the biggest growth area for us this year. At StarzPlay, we are always looking for improved ways to serve our subscribers, and we are adjusting our content strategy to better target Gen-Z and Millennial Arabs through more scripted mini-series, short-form content and movies.

The Lazarus Project

What is the key trend going to be in 2023?

Streaming platforms will have to adapt their product experience and evolve their content strategy to avoid losing younger audiences to TikTok. Between fatigue from superhero franchises and a lack of commitment to watching box sets of scripted shows, the streaming industry will have to compete more directly with the likes of TikTok, with more focus on short-form content and live sports in order to capture attention spans.

What is your New Year’s resolution and why?

In 2023, we have a renewed focus on continuous improvement when it comes to producing and licensing content that meets both subscriber acquisition and consumption targets – and taking immediate corrective action when it doesn’t. It is no secret that the media industry, from content creation to distribution platforms, is facing challenging times ahead, and we have to execute our content and programming strategy with surgical precision in order to continue to grow.

What will be the biggest headline in 2023 and why?

It is not so much a headline as it is an approach, but 2023 will be all about ‘doing more with less’. Between the fastest interest rate hikes in history and dropping valuations, media and tech companies will need to embrace new norms in everything they do. Studios have already changed their content distribution and direct-to-consumer strategies multiple times in 2022 to adapt to increased competition and fickle demand. Similarly, OTT platforms are optimising their content strategies and introducing various ad-supported pricing tiers to offer competitive price points in the market.

What show (from outside of your own company) are you most looking forward to in 2023?

If I had to pick a show outside of StarzPlay that I’m most excited about, I’d say The Lazarus Project, a dark thriller about time travel set in London.

Read more from TBI’s 2023 Predictions

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