Digital Studio - - CONTENTS - Pranav Vadehra is Ed­i­tor of Dig­i­tal Stu­dio at ITP Me­dia Group Pub­li­ca­tion.


The ris­ing im­por­tance of on­line video among con­sumers is a given. Con­sumers in the MENA re­gion can look for­ward to an un­prece­dented num­ber of plat­forms to choose from in the near fu­ture, as the me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment gi­ants ramp up the global bat­tle for view­ers. Here in the MENA re­gion, a 300 mil­lion strong area with a huge young pop­u­la­tion rep­re­sents a prime bat­tle­ground for the OTT play­ers, as they woo sub­scribers to their on-de­mand con­tent of­fer­ings.

Hot on the heels of Netflix and Amazon, Ap­ple is re­port­edly plan­ning to give its planned TV sub­scrip­tion ser­vice the kind of mas­sive global roll­out it typ­i­cally re­serves for high-pro­file prod­uct re­leases like the iPhone. Ap­ple has re­vealed plans to launch the ser­vice in more than 100 coun­tries, as it takes on Netflix and Amazon Prime who have 40 per cent and 22 per cent of global mar­ket share re­spec­tively. This gap is more or less sim­i­lar in the Mid­dle East & Africa re­gion (25 per cent and 16 per cent, re­spec­tively).

Me­dia com­pa­nies that once sold pro­grams to Netflix for hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars are now build­ing their own on-de­mand ser­vices to com­pete head on. Dis­ney and AT&T are each plan­ning to in­tro­duce am­bitous new di­rect to con­sumer ser­vices next year, af­ter com­plet­ing takeovers of me­dia com­pa­nies worth a com­bined $160 bil­lion.

Netflix CEO Reed Hast­ings sug­gests he is not wor­ried about the com­pe­ti­tion. “That’s go­ing to make it ex­cit­ing for us, great for con­sumers and in­cred­i­ble for pro­duc­ers,’’ he said. “The game is on.’’

Netflix up­ended the eco­nom­ics of pay TV by of­fer­ing cus­tomers thou­sands of pro­grams on-de­mand for a low monthly fee as com­pared to mul­ti­chan­nel ca­ble or satel­lite bundles. By in­vest­ing heav­ily in orig­i­nal con­tent so cus­tomers have an al­most in­fi­nite amount of con­tent view­ing op­tions, Netflix is also chang­ing widely held in­dus­try no­tions of con­tent pref­er­ences around the world.

Fadi Is­mail, who fea­tures in this month’s cover story tells us that in­ter­est in watch­ing non-English lan­guage shows and films is at an all-time high across the world, a key fac­tor prompt­ing the MBC Group’s move to launch MBC Studios. Is­mail be­lieves some credit for the in­creased in­ter­est in sub­ti­tled con­tent goes to Netflix for chang­ing per­cep­tions and the au­di­ence’s tastes for for­eign laun­guage shows and films.

Subti­tling in­ter­na­tional con­tent is to­day much more com­mon in re­gions which pri­mar­ily en­gaged with for­eign con­tent in dubbed form. Bol­ly­wood con­tent too, is pop­u­lar with the lo­cal Mid­dle Eastern pop­u­la­tion in dubbed and sub­ti­tled for­mats, and In­dian me­dia groups like Zee and Eros have rolled out OTT ser­vices in the re­gion.

Ac­cord­ing to a study on op­ti­mal lo­cal­i­sa­tion of in­ter­na­tional con­tent by Par­rot An­a­lyt­ics, younger de­mo­graph­ics are more likely to watch sub­ti­tled shows. The study also showed that in places like Mex­ico upto 44% of view­ers watch sub­ti­tled for­eign lan­guage con­tent.

Netflix crime drama Nar­cos has been pos­si­ble the most prom­i­nent ex­am­ple of the subti­tling trend in lo­calised con­tent. Al­though many scenes are en­tirely in Span­ish and sub­ti­tled in English, Nar­cos be­came a top-ranked show in mar­kets like France, Italy and Poland.

Netflix drama Nar­cos is the most prom­i­nent ex­am­ple of the subti­tling trend

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