Over the past few months, a number of major broadcasting brands have announced either new entries or upgrades in the Middle East.
Most recently we have seen a significant increase in activity from Turner Broadcasting. Its Cartoon Network franchise has opened a production office in Abu Dhabi at the twofour54 precinct, it has signed a distribution agreement with local production house Lammtara for its popular Freej series and also revealed plans for an Arabic Cartoon Network channel.
Turner’s CNN opened a major broadcasting hub in Abu Dhabi last year. Last month the group’s TNT entertainment channel was also tipped to make a regional bow.
When added to the MTV Network International channels, the Fox stable and several European ventures, the region now has a great number of international brands either operating in the region or offering content tailored for it.
But what is the overall consequence of this for local broadcasters and could channels tied to the major studios and networks in the US start to cling onto their local rights?
Fox International Channels (FIC) may only operate its Fox Movies and Series channels at present but if it actions in India and Asia are anything to go by we can expect to see more in the near future.
FIC signed an exclusive multi-year rights deal for the FTA premieres of 20th Century Fox. A further increase in the number of international branded channels and subsequent in-house deals with associated content providers could make it difficult for incumbent FTA channels to access content.
Local content could also suffer as confident, well-known brands find their feet and their audience in the region.
Perhaps however, their growing presence is simply a sign of maturity in the market. Overall the likes of Fox Series and MTV Arabia have risen the standards of FTA channels serving the Middle East, filling the bandwidth previously used to support the unsustainable weight of endless vanity broadcasters.
Regardless of your own personal opinion, they’re here to stay.