The Saudi Government Media, a controlled broadcaster, has now expanded into a wide range of services to counter regional rivals in Iran and Qatar – with Netflix being a platform of interest. This move by MBC Group, based in Dubai is expanding its streaming service in an effort by Riyadh to wage a fierce propaganda war against rivals in Iran and Qatar. MBC is hiring professionals from several US and European media giants to bring a higher level of professionalism to the team.
MBC now has a newly-launched production house called MBC Studios was already looking for new films and new shows to feed to the video service in an effort to broaden the digital and video-on-demand service. It seems that this new entity will start producing its own content that supports historical facts and names – promoting people in history and those with impact on its culture.
MBC was formed in 1991 and has supported traditional values while keeping some distance from the government. It is slightly more liberal in its content when compared to Saudi state television. Also the Saudi family run organization has agreed to launch a news channel with Bloomberg with the new firm called Bloomberg Ashram.
Netflix has grown rapidly in the Middle East and what the largest paying subscriber base in the Arab World, now at 1.7 million but growing. To counter Iran, the Saudi investors have supported a London-based Farsi language new network called Iran International. This seems to be a full blown propaganda war as more actors in the region, many who are rivals, are now getting into the media business.