We live in the age of the streaming platform: Long gone are the days of waiting all week for the next episode of your favorite show: Binge-watching is now the norm. That prompted a massive pivot away from paid satellite TV in MENA (or “direct to home,” in industry-speak) and from cable television in the west.
With inflation rising and economic uncertainty a constant issue in mainstream media, streaming platforms and traditional broadcasters have taken it on the chin. Investors wiped more than USD 500 bn from the market value of the biggest companies, putting pressure on streamers to up their games (and their prices).
Bye bye, password-sharing, hello price hikes: Netflix recently started cracking down on password sharing, limiting the number of households that can access one account and hiking subscription prices for subscriptions that aren’t ad-supported. Launching in Egypt only last June, Disney+ has hiked the annual cost of its streaming services 21.7% from its initial reduced price of EGP 390. Apple TV+ — a few years older than Disney+ — has seen a 50% increase in the monthly cost of a subscription. It was priced at only EGP 79.99 back in 2020.
This makes life harder for binge-watchers: Mns of Netflix users will be booted out of their friend’s / partner’s / coworker’s / parent’s Netflix accounts and forced to create one of their own once the password-sharing limits hit Egypt as part of the platform’s phased rollout — and they’ll have to do so in an environment of heightened prices.
So, if you don’t want to pay north of EGP 500 every month on streaming platforms that you end up never using, here’s a handy guide to help you choose the ones that fit your taste, budget and streaming needs.
PRICING- Netflix recently reduced its prices for Egyptian watchers — the monthly cost of a basic plan (which only supports one device streaming at a time) is EGP 70, a standard plan (supporting two devices and showing “full HD” content) is EGP 120 and a premium plan (supporting four devices + showing “ultra HD” content + spatial audio features) costs EGP 165.
WHAT TO WATCH- Synonymous with streaming, Netflix has been producing original content since 2011. Fan favorites The Queen’s Gambit, Stranger Things and Wednesday are all Netflix originals, and the streaming platform has fostered awareness of new actors and foreign language shows like Squid Game. It also has a wealth of classics, from Seinfeld to Egyptian black and white films.
Netflix’s catalog of original and licensed TV shows and movies differs country-to-country. We’re doing pretty well in Egypt coming in at number 16 of countries with the most TV shows (168) and films (426) available — although we only have 14.5% of the US TV library and 9.27% of the film library, according to SecureThoughts.
KID-FRIENDLY? Parents can customize what content children can see by adjusting the ratings restrictions and can block specific titles from showing up for their children. You can also completely lock your profile with a password.
USER-FRIENDLY? Netflix is by far the most user-friendly streaming platform on this list. The app works on all types of phones, in all regions, and has foreign language options and content.
AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
PRICING- Amazon Prime Video comes in at EGP 29 monthly and EGP 249 annually. Bonus tip: Amazon also has Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) — a no-charge, ad-supported streaming service with original and licensed content.
WHAT TO WATCH- Prime Video has also had hits with originals, The Boys, Hunters and the most expensive show ever made, The Rings of Power. The platform has a different library depending on the country you’re in, and it allows you to stream only selected Amazon Original titles if you travel outside of your home country, in a section labeled ‘Watch While Abroad’.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, you can password-lock your profile on Amazon Prime.
USER-FRIENDLY? Not the easiest of platforms to navigate, it can be difficult to differentiate between paid content and content you can access without charge on Prime Video.
PRICING- Apple TV+ costs EGP 119.99 a month, but every purchase of an Apple device comes with three months of unpaid access.
WHAT TO WATCH- Apple TV+ is a drop in the ocean compared to Netflix, providing only original content. The streamer has pumped big bucks into its productions, like The Morning Show, which was produced with a USD 300 mn budget, and is the home of breakout stars, Pachinko, Ted Lasso and Bad Sisters.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, Apple TV+ allows you to restrict content or lock your profile with a password.
USER-FRIENDLY? Apple TV+ has a slightly maze-like layout — its streaming services are housed within a larger Apple TV app that also includes your iTunes library and content from other connected streaming services, which can be confusing. Apple TV (different to TV+) is the umbrella term for Apple’s living room strategy that contains all the hardware, software and streaming services sharing the Apple TV name. A number of streamers (130+) allow their subscribers to access content through the Apple TV app. That includes HBO Max, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, but not Netflix.
PRICING- Launched in Egypt only last year, an account with Disney+ will set you back EGP 49.99 monthly or EGP 498.99 annually.
WHAT TO WATCH- Disney+ is full of family favorites that parents will love as well. The platform holds the majority of the Disney and Pixar libraries, recent studio releases like Encanto and Turning Red and the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. Disney+ shows largely identical content around the globe, with slight regional differences.
KID-FRIENDLY? Like Netflix, the streamer provides parental controls for kid’s profiles that allow parents to customize what children can watch.
USER-FRIENDLY? Yes, the layout is simple and easy to navigate.
PRICING- OSN+ standard plan comes in at EGP 90 a month, providing SD content and allowing only one device to stream content at the same time. The premium plan — which provides HD content and allows you to stream on two devices simultaneously — costs EGP 140 a month.
WHAT TO WATCH- The platform owns the rights to HBO, Paramount and NBC / Universal,, which means it provides access to a large number of Arabic and English-language films and TV shows (and some Turkish too). Big hitters include The White Lotus, Succession, The Last of Us and House of the Dragon.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, you can lock your own accounts with a password and set your kids’ profile to kids mode.
USER-FRIENDLY? No complaints here, though the app has bugged out for us quite a few times, with episodes ending abruptly mid-viewing.
This one’s for the sports buffs: TOD, beIN’s streaming service, provides Arabic, Turkish, international, and children’s entertainment content, but its strong suit is definitely sports. The app has a tab dedicated to football coverage, and broadcasts international league matches on top of basketball, tennis, golf and more.
PRICING- TOD Total, which includes TOD originals, shows and movies as well as plenty of sports-focused content, will set you back EGP 429.99 a month, while TOD Theatre, which houses TOD Originals and Arabic and Turkish content, but no sports broadcasts, costs EGP 119.99.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, you can lock your profile and create a kids’ profile on TOD.
USER-FRIENDLY? Yes, it passes our test.
FOR MOSALSALAT LOVERS-
With Ramadan round the corner, Shahid VIP and Watch It have you covered for where to watch this year's mosalsalat – both offer wide coverage of Arabic-language content.
PRICING- Shahid has mobile only subscriptions (which also work on tablets) for EGP 19.99 a month, which can be used on one device at a time. The platform’s VIP package costs EGP 59.99 monthly and can be used across 20 devices (mobile, TV or laptop) and offline, while the VIP Sports package costs EGP 109.
WHAT TO WATCH- Shahid holds what it says is the Arab world’s biggest streaming library with original Egyptian, Khaleeji, Turkish and Indian shows, including Room 207 and The Accused, and every year comes out with its own original Ramadan releases. The VIP sports membership provides access to the Saudi sports live channel, Saudi competitions hosted in the country and some international football leagues.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, you can lock your profile and create a separate account for the kids.
USER-FRIENDLY? The platform isn’t the most user-friendly out there; its episodes are usually listed in order of most recent, rather than in sequence — which has inadvertently spoiled many, many shows for us.
PRICING- Arabic content platform, Watch It, provides monthly or annual packages for one screen at EGP 50 a month, two screens at EGP 80 a month, and three screens at EGP 110 a month. If you subscribe now, the price is 60-70% lower as part of their pre-Ramadan packages.
WHAT TO WATCH- The platform streams a lot of exclusive Ramadan series, and also provides a lot of original content to watch year-round, including Egypt’s version of Shark Tank.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes, you can lock your profile and create a separate profile for the kids.
USER-FRIENDLY? Not really — the app can be very buggy, especially in the post-Iftar streaming rush hours of Ramadan, where some episodes won’t load at all.
OTHER THINGS TO WATCH-
HAVE A FAVORITE VPN? You can access a lot of British content without charge: Terrestrial platforms like the UK’s BBC iPlayer, ITVHub and All4 all have a wide selection of shows and films — including some of our favorite reality shows (The Great Pottery Throwdown and The Traitors are our guilty pleasures.) You don’t need to pay to subscribe, but you’ll need a VPN to access any of them; we recommend ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
Fan of the less conventional? There are plenty of platforms offering more niche content. BroadwayHD provides recorded plays and musicals, films inspired by Broadway shows and famous concerts for USD 11.99 a month or USD 129.99 a year. One for film connoisseurs, Mubi has impeccably curated films, leaning towards arthouse and independent content, for USS 5.99 a month. Crunchyroll houses the world’s largest anime library with more than 40k episodes and over 16k hours of content, and has three subscription tiers starting at USD 7.99 a month. Horror streamer Shudder (you’ll need a VPN) has a backlog of cult classics, Hollywood favorites and original productions for USD 5.99 a month or USD 56.99 a year.
PSA- Now that you know WHERE to watch your favorite films and mosalsalat of the year, stay tuned for our essential Ramadan viewing guide next week to find out WHAT to watch during the holy month.