THE CHANG­ING TV CON­TENT MAR­KET­PLACE IN MENA

Chan­nelSculp­tor’s Heba Ko­rayem ex­plains the chang­ing dy­nam­ics of the MENA con­tent mar­ket, and how mena.tv, the re­gion’s first on­line con­tent mar­ket­place, is work­ing to fa­cil­i­tate greater co­op­er­a­tion be­tween re­gional buy­ers and rights hold­ers.

Digital Studio - - COMMENT -

Amar­ket­place is by def­i­ni­tion the in­ter­preter of sup­ply and de­mand. For the past 2 decades up un­til rel­a­tively re­cently, de­mand for con­tent in the Arab world’s TV in­dus­try has been con­cen­trated around the re­gional TV net­works. The buy­ing cy­cle for in­ter­na­tional con­tent has been rel­a­tively sim­ple: agents and dis­trib­u­tors source ti­tles from Con­tent Mar­kets, lo­cal­ize them, and sell them as many times as the rights granted al­low them to. How­ever, over the past 2 years the de­mand within the MENA mar­ket­place has changed: OTT plat­forms and Tel­cos have started com­ing in with new bud­gets and big prom­ises. Sup­ply is no longer only cre­ated by big pro­duc­tion houses: new and in­no­va­tive pro­duc­ers are start­ing out on YouTube, build­ing au­di­ences and and in­ter­est from ma­jor net­works. These de­mand and sup­ply trends have made the mar­ket­place more com­plex for tra­di­tional dis­trib­u­tors and agents. The eco­nom­ics are more com­plex too: de­mand for good con­tent is al­most at its peak, but bud­gets are tighter as broad­caster ad rev­enues de­cline, and dig­i­tal plat­forms are still fig­ur­ing out a mon­eti­sa­tion model that works with an au­di­ence used to free con­tent. The re­sult is an in­creas­ing need for risk shar­ing in deal struc­tures, and more di­rect en­gage­ment be­tween buy­ers and sell­ers. We’re wit­ness­ing a trend where con­tent buy­ers are de­mand­ing greater trans­parency, and in­creas­ingly con­nect­ing and di­rectly ne­go­ti­at­ing deals with rights hold­ers.

HOW BIG IS THE MENA CON­TENT MAR­KET­PLACE?

Based on mena.tv re­search, there are cur­rently 959 Free to Air TV channels in MENA, 763 of which orig­i­nate from the re­gion. There are also over 274 pay TV channels, 131 of which are orig­i­nated in MENA. On top of lin­ear broad­cast­ers there are over 20 OTT plat­forms ser­vic­ing the re­gion, and sev­eral tel­cos with an in­de­pen­dent VOD or IPTV ser­vice. That’s close to 1,000 buy­ing en­ti­ties seek­ing fresh con­tent in the re­gion. Con­tent ac­qui­si­tion pro­fes­sion­als from these re­gional broad­cast­ers and plat­forms need ac­cess to a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply of con­tent cov­er­ing a full range of gen­res, all rights cleared for the re­gion. The same goes for the in­creas­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tional plat­forms cater­ing to Arab au­di­ences abroad. There are also now nu­mer­ous buy­ers look­ing to fill their own sched­ules with im­ported Ara­bic con­tent.

THE ORI­GINS OF THE MENA.TV CON­TENT HUB

Chan­nelSculp­tor has been work­ing with

re­gional and in­ter­na­tional broad­cast­ers for 10 years. We could see the MENA con­tent mar­ket was evolv­ing and re­quired a rad­i­cal new ap­proach to con­tent sales. We re­sponded in Jan­uary 2017 with the launch of the MENA re­gion’s first on­line con­tent mar­ket­place, www.mena.tv - al­low­ing buy­ers to search/ browse ti­tles year-round and con­nect di­rectly with rights hold­ers.

The por­tal aims to present a com­pre­hen­sive of con­tent of­fer­ing rep­re­sent­ing both in­ter­na­tional and re­gional pro­duc­ers and dis­trib­u­tors. Our ob­jec­tive is for every buyer in the re­gion to be an ac­tive user of the por­tal, so it’s im­por­tant that mena.tv con­tent hub of­fers a very di­verse range of con­tent, from premium ti­tles to li­brary shows . The con­tent hub is of course pop­u­lar with in­ter­na­tional ven­dors seek­ing di­rect ac­cess to re­gional buy­ers, but it is also used by in­ter­na­tional buy­ers seek­ing Ara­bic con­tent from the re­gion. Omar Suby, Con­tent Ac­qui­si­tion Man­ager at Tele­com­ing based in Spain, is a fre­quent user and ob­serves “Our com­pany is ex­pand­ing into North Africa and we’re look­ing for Ara­bic con­tent for our plat­form. Through mena.tv, I was able to find a va­ri­ety of ti­tles, watch screen­ers, and com­mu­ni­cate with the rights hold­ers quickly and eas­ily.”

GROW­ING THE CON­TENT MAR­KET THROUGH CO­OP­ER­A­TION

Just like any tra­di­tional con­tent mar­ket­place, the pur­pose of mena.tv is to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion within the in­dus­try. Once a year, we host a gath­er­ing of TV In­dus­try CEO’s in a pri­vate work­shop aimed at en­cour­ag­ing mean­ing­ful part­ner­ships and dis­cov­er­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties. Fares Sayegh, CEO and Founder of Ro’ya TV is one of the par­tic­i­pants: “The rea­son Ro’ya TV is the num­ber one broad­caster in Jor­dan is be­cause we iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties and are open to co-op­er­a­tion. mena.tv has paved the way to con­nect us with many po­ten­tial part­ners, and we have se­cured a few suc­cess­ful co-pro­duc­tion deals, one of them with Dis­cov­ery Net­work”.

Of course, co­op­er­a­tion and value cre­ation go be­yond in­di­vid­ual part­ner­ships. We man­aged to achieve co­op­er­a­tion on a large scale this year at MIP­COM when for the first time in 35 years, nine prom­i­nent Ara­bic pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies and broad­cast­ers came to­gether un­der a sin­gle Ara­bic pavil­ion or­ga­nized by mena.tv. Rotana Me­dia, Cedars Art Pro­duc­tions, Ea­gle Films, Ro’ya TV, Arab Tele­me­dia Group, Al Aan TV, Union Me­dia, Is­sam Hi­j­jawy and Abu Dhabi Me­dia (Ma­jid Kids TV) pre­sented a com­pelling range of high-qual­ity orig­i­nal Ara­bic con­tent to a global au­di­ence of over 10,000 buy­ers, sup­ported also by the first ever Ara­bic con­tent cat­a­logue. Our MIP­COM part­ners were re­warded with an av­er­age of 30 buyer meet­ings each dur­ing the show.

Ahmed Ab­del­hamid, Head of Pro­gram­ming and Ac­qui­si­tions of Ma­jid Kids TV, a lead­ing chil­dren chan­nel owned by Abu Dhabi Me­dia was one of our busiest par­tic­i­pants “We par­tic­i­pated at MIP­COM as ex­hibitors this year within the mena.tv pavil­ion. We’ve had nu­mer­ous meet­ings that re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant part­ner­ships. We have al­ready con­cluded three deals with in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies and look­ing for­ward to an­nounce the pend­ing ones.”

Prom­i­nent com­pa­nies with vast li­braries such as Ea­gle Films who reg­u­larly host a big booth at MIP­COM, were also ac­tive par­tic­i­pants within the co-op­er­a­tion ini­tia­tive set up by mena.tv. With their brand be­ing pro­moted on the mena.tv pavil­ion and cat­a­logue, Nahi San­nan, CCO at Ea­gle Films was pleased with the out­come: “We are very happy with our achieve­ments at MIP­COM this year. Our team had a full di­ary of meet­ings, and we’re in ad­vanced dis­cus­sions with 10 in­ter­na­tional en­ti­ties in­ter­ested. With some of our ti­tles al­ready dubbed/ subti­tled to three lan­guages, we’re re­leas­ing 4 new ti­tles this Ra­madan, two of which will also be suitable for ex­port­ing glob­ally.”

Value cre­ation is one of the core prin­ci­ples of the com­pany: our CEO re­peat­edly re­minds me: “If we’re not adding any value to any­one, we won’t do it”. We con­tin­u­ously sup­port and part­ner with con­tent in­dus­try events such as MIP­COM, NATPE, DISCOP, TVCon­nect, and DICM - where mena.tv ei­ther fa­cil­i­tates buyer at­ten­dance and en­gage­ment, sup­ports the con­fer­ence pro­gram or both.

DUBAI IN­TER­NA­TIONAL CON­TENT MAR­KET (DICM)

There is no sub­sti­tute for face to face meet­ings be­tween con­tent buy­ers and sell­ers. Es­tab­lish­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions on­line, well in ad­vance of the show, is in­valu­able when it comes to con­clud­ing a deal. Our ven­dor mem­bers are en­cour­aged to at­tend our part­ner con­tent mar­kets to come and shake hands with buyer mem­bers, put a face to a name and get those pend­ing deals signed.Right now, more than be­fore, de­mand for con­tent is ex­ceed­ing re­gional sup­ply. Thanks to the grow­ing num­ber of OTT plat­forms cater­ing to dif­fer­ent niches au­di­ences, it’s a big­ger pie that ev­ery­one can get a piece of. mena.tv will be hap­pily hand­ing out the plates!

MENA.TV Lead­ers Sum­mit 2017

Ahmed Ab­del­hamid of Ma­jid Kids TV at the mena.tv Hub in MIP­COM

Heba Ko­rayem at the mena. tv stand dur­ing TV Con­nect MENA

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