VIEW FROM THE TOP
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.