Counting on content

Icflix is an example of an OTT platform that is investing heavily in local content
Roger Field is editor of Digital Studio magazine
Roger Field is editor of Digital Studio magazine

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With IBC just round the corner, it’s a time of frenzied activity for many of us involved in the region’s production and broadcast industry. And with the business climate in the Middle East still somewhat subdued I’m sure many industry players from the Middle East are looking forward to attending IBC and reconnecting with the international scene, and benefitting from the exposure to different perceptions of industry challenges and potential.

Speaking of challenges and opportunities, these two threads are looked at in depth in our State of the Industry report (see page 64). We spoke to numerous experts in their field, including manufacturers, distributors and content producers.

Each participant has a deep knowledge of their field and assessed the current state of the market as they see it and opportunities that lie ahead. It’s interesting to read the views of so many people in one place, and the feature serves as a reminder that while times might be quite tough in the Middle East, there are always opportunities for those companies and individuals with the right mind-set.

Judging by our IBC section, there is also plenty to be optimistic about with so many companies launching so many new products catering to all aspects of broadcasting and production. Thumbing through these pages, cloud, IP, 4K and OTT are all growth areas that offer potential. 

On the content production side there is also room for optimism. While companies dealing with commercial content production are experiencing some difficulties with declining price points, the bigger picture offers some room for cheer. The region’s OTT platforms  are all looking to ramp up local production. Speaking to Digital Broadcast, the sister publication of Digital Studio this month, Carlos Tibi, CEO of Icflix, stressed the importance of Arabic content for his platform. The team at Icflix has been busy producing Arabic content including series focused on issues not usually addressed in the region. Interestingly, Tibi also said that subscribers are increasingly asking for Arabic content and the best performing content on his platform is Arabic. 

While Egypt easily retains the unofficial title of being the Hollywood of the Middle East, many people in the industry lament the lack of diversity in terms of the type of films that are produced in Egypt. This month’s cover interview (see p28) proved that there are some notable exceptions. Marwan Hamed and DoP Ahmad Al Morsy (see p106) both said that they would like to see a greater range of diversity in terms of the type of films being produced in the region. Thankfully, this is something that producers and content platforms in the region are working towards. With broadcasters, both mainstream and OTTs, pumping more money into content, the region may be in the early stages on a new golden age or Arab film and TV production.

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