VIEW FROM THE TOP

Digital Studio - - COVER FEATURE -

FOX Net­works Group GM and Se­nior VP, San­jay Raina, com­ment­ing on The Open Road, said: “We be­lieve that this se­ries her­alds a new era in en­ter­tain­ment for the Mid­dle East. It re­in­forces our vi­sion to bring world-class en­ter­tain­ment that is not only lo­cally rel­e­vant, but lo­cally pro­duced and ap­peals to Arab youth who are hun­gry for ex­plo­ration and ad­ven­ture. For many, it will be see­ing the re­gion through fresh eyes and for oth­ers re-dis­cov­er­ing it with a fresh per­spec­tive. The for­mat we chose is uni­ver­sally ap­peal­ing; yet it’s quintessen­tially Arab. The se­ries comes at the per­fect time where Arab women are in­creas­ingly cel­e­brated, and with this se­ries star­ring two young Arab fe­male bik­ers, we cel­e­brate their spirit of ex­plo­ration and ad­ven­ture as well. And Sea­son 1 is just the be­gin­ning.”

Raina ddds that FNG are now em­bark­ing on a lot of lo­cal pro­duc­tions in Ara­bic for brands and com­pa­nies, like the Open Road.

Raina ex­plains FNG’s ap­proach to con­tent pro­duc­tion: “What is nice about work­ing at FOX Net­works Group is that you’re an en­tre­pre­neur. The team comes up with in­no­va­tive ideas and if they fit a busi­ness plan, then we go ahead and ex­e­cute. The di­ver­sity of our team, with so many na­tion­al­i­ties, Arabs and non-Arabs, is very ben­e­fi­cial to the cre­ative process, with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives that are very en­rich­ing to the en­ter­tain­ment value. Luck­ily, we are not in the rat race of rat­ings. We are a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice and our rev­enue model in­cludes rev­enues from ad­ver­tis­ing, but it’s not our main driver.”

Raina says FNG has been a torch bearer in push­ing pay TV within the re­gion. “We have worked to be­come the num­ber one in­ter­na­tional me­dia player in the mar­ket, in terms of size (60), num­ber of channels (15), and in terms of rev­enues.

The Mid­dle East is 300 mil­lion peo­ple and a very young au­di­ence in­clud­ing a large ex­pat au­di­ence. Mul­ti­ple lan­guages are spo­ken through­out the re­gion. There are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in this mar­ket and it’s far from be­ing sat­u­rated – peo­ple try and fail and keep try­ing. If it works, it works and if it fails, we will learn from it,” con­tin­ues Raina.

“We keep hear­ing lin­ear TV is dead – I’ve been hear­ing that for 6 years but noth­ing is dy­ing. It is chal­lenged and a lot of con­tent con­sump­tion is mov­ing on­line. We have our own plans and we are in the process of think­ing thor­ough the dig­i­tal prod­uct. We al­ready have a ser­vice in SE Asia called FOX Plus. We took it to Philip­pines as a test mar­ket and in a span of 2 weeks we got 10,000 sub­scribers. It’s got a user-friendly in­ter­face and can be viewed as an app or you can watch it on­line.”

Since the in­ter­view with Dig­i­tal Stu­dio, the FOX Plus ser­vice has launched and FNG has al­ready signed deals with lead­ing re­gional OTT plat­forms to carry the FOX Plus ser­vice, namely the Jawwy TV plat­form in Saudi Ara­bia and MBC’s Shahid Plus SVOD plat­form. The Open Road will be avail­able on FOX Plus as well.

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