Shofha.com, Arabic Movies & Series Online On Demand
LINKonLINE, a subsidiary of LINKdotNET (an Orascom Telecom Holding company), has announced the launch of a new entertainment service called Shofha, in collaboration with regional movie and series producers and rights owners.
The new service, which is available in English and Arabic, allows anyone from anywhere in the world, to legally watch the latest Arabic movies and television series online on the same day of their international release. Movies and series are provided in high resolution, commercial free, through online streaming or download; with the video files being all DRM protected, most probably using Microsoft Windows Media DRM.
Shofha.com comes with a good back catalogue of movies and series, either on rental or purchase basis, that can be downloaded or watched online. TV series will be available in both full series form as well as sing episode form; even 5 minute episode highlights are provided for those without much time on their hands.
The available options are to: Buy the video, where a user gets to download the video to their pc and play it anytime they wish indefinitely, with the ability to download the movie up to 3 times; Rent the video, where a user can download the video to their pc and watch it as many times as they want within a 48 hour time-frame; and finally there’s the Internet Cinema option where the user gets to instantly start watching the video through online streaming as many times as they wish in a 24 hour time-frame, with the quality of the video depending on the connection speed the user has.
The prices for each option seem to vary depending on the country, for example international users paying in US dollars would have to pay something like: $US 6 to buy, $US 3 to rent, and $US 9 to stream online; on the other hand, someone in the UAE would pay 9 Dirhams to buy, 5 Dhs to rent, and 7 Dhs to stream online, which is much cheaper.
Users can pay for the content they buy or rent using their credit cards or Link cards, prepaid cards provided in Egypt by LINKdotNET. The company also entitles all its LINKDSL customers to a 50% discount on all shofha.com services, and is negotiating with other companies around the region in order to be able to provide other such offers.
The main strategic content partner for the project is Rotana, the leading Arabic entertainment company, who produce and own rights to a vast catalogue of Arabic movies and series, both old and new. Wave is also another content partner.
The technical solution powering the service was built using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform, which comes naturally as a choice for LINKdotNET, who are a Microsoft Gold Partner.
It’ll be really interesting to see user adoption for this service and how well it works out; prices seem to be affordable, the model quite flexible, and quality promises to be better than what’s available out there through illegal sharing forums and torrents; now we wait and see if users dig into their pockets and pay for the content they want.