Fahad Al Hassawi
Fahad Al Hassawi, deputy CEO for telco services at Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, the parent company of du. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai-based telecom operator du has signed an exclusive contract to carry Amazon’s Prime Video in the UAE.

Amazon officially launched its Prime Video service, which consists of TV shows, movies and original series, in December 2016. Du subscribers will be able to pay for the Prime Video through the telecom.

“Direct carrier billing enables people to have easier access to content and payment methodology through our billing relationship,” Fahad Al Hassawi, deputy CEO for telco services at Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, the parent company of du, told Gulf News.

Direct carrier billing allows subscribers to place the cost of purchase on their monthly phone bill.

Du did not say how long Prime Video would be exclusive to the company.

As a telecom player, Al Hassawi said that du enjoys a direct relationship with a huge customer base and that is a “huge advantage”.

Right now du will be offering only Prime Video but Al Hassawi said that they are in talks with Amazon to add other features such as music, photo storage, reading and shipping.

“We are no longer just a telecom provider. We are moving as a partner for providing consumers with entertainment content and lifestyle benefits. This is happening globally. We are going in that direction and are partnering with the right content providers for our customers,” he said.

The service is being offered free to du subscribers for the first three months, he said that du is subsidising the cost.

After that, customers will pay Dh11 per month for the next six months and Dh22 after that.

“We are also in talks with Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer for direct carrier billing,” he said.

Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer are officially available in the UAE.

Du already offers Netflix, OSN Play, OSN Wavo, icflix, Starz Play and Anghami music on its platform.

Sukhdev Singh, executive director at market research and analysis services provider Kantar AMRB, said that telcos have higher penetration and reach out to subscribers who do not have a contract, credit card and do not have faith in online payments.

“It is additional revenue for telecom operators and a win-win situation for both the operator and the content provider. If the content providers go by themselves, they may not be able to penetrate the market much,” he said.

Moreover, he said that telecom operators are looking to add more revenues to their income and looking at multiple channels.

“When we launched direct carrier billing with Apple and Google play stores, consumption has increased dramatically without consumers having a different account and payment method. It provides convenience,” Al Hassawi said.