Industry experts get together to discuss OTT, content production and the UAE’s role in serving as the perfect hub for the region.
The global satellite and broadcast industries are in the midst of unparalleled transformation forcing strategic mindset shifts among satellite operators and content producers, CABSAT 2021, the Middle East and Africa’s most competitive event for the satellite, broadcast, and filmed content industry, heard on its opening day. In the industries’ first in-person event for two years, hosted at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), audiences at the Content Congress and SATExpo Stage heard of seismic sector shifts where opportunities abound, and creative agility would win out.
Streaming services catalyse spike in content production
CABSAT’S Content Congress heard how a major surge in OTT revenues is prompting producers to re-engineer their entire strategies. Siddarth Roy Kapur, Founder and Managing Director of Roy Kapur Films and President of the Producers Guild of India said in the past year global OTT revenues soared by 35% to US $24.5bn as people consumed unprecedented amounts of content. “OTT platforms are booming like never before, which bodes well for an industry which is now as essential as infrastructure to human beings.”
However, the OTT boom, said Kapur, is forcing industry players to rethink their approach to what they should produce for specific delivery channels. “Some productions such as rom-coms for instance may no longer draw people into cinemas and will be OTT main stays while slap-sticks, super-heroes and period dramas which require a big-screen experience may find cinemas to be the best outlet.”
Kapur said content production is witnessing an investment surge with Asia climbing up the rankings. “In India and Korea content production is at an all-time high,” he said citing expanding distribution capabilities as the reason for the surge.
Gaming set to take “lion’s share” of region’s media market, says Dubai Media Chief
Broadcast radio is facing disruption in a digital era while gaming is set to command the lion’s share of the regional media market, according to Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, and Dubai Production City. Addressing CABSAT’s Content Congress, Al Suwaidi said that while traditional paid TV and cinemas have dedicated audiences it is becoming increasingly evident that consumers like the convenience of choice and availability; “As well as traditional paid TV and cinemas, traditional broadcast radio is being challenged with the advent of digital radio, which saw a growth of 25% in 2020. Another industry we are all watching closely is gaming, where compound growth of the sector is expected to increase by 8.9% by 2024, making it the largest segment of the regional entertainment and media market.
“What these statistics show is that now more than ever, the consumer directs the content. Digital is the future, and as much as it has required us to adapt and learn, it also gives us much more in return by doing so,” he said.
Abu Dhabi On Course for New Production Value Record
Hans Fraikin, Head of Abu Dhabi Film and Television Commission, said the UAE capital is on course this year to surpass its 2020 US $100m production value total with its success during the pandemic giving it “strong momentum”.
Fraikin said Abu Dhabi’s industry reputation has grown following its success at hosting major productions during the pandemic with strong health and safety protocols and production crews working and living in bubbles. He cited the Mission Impossible shooting as a case in point with 1,000 people working on the production and all remaining Covid-free during the project. “This is because of the Government’s prompt response and protocols it put in place to maintain and industry it regards as essential,” he said.
The Abu Dhabi Film Commission Head also confirmed that in its 2022/2023 expansion of its plans to build a fully integrated film ecosystem, it would focus on the visual effects, digital animation and virtual production sectors and confirmed a major Egyptian animation player would move into the UAE capital by the end of this year.