Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), in partnership with Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, released a white paper examining key areas for growth and investment in the MENA media production market, with recommendations for how countries in the region can build world-class media ecosystems According to a white paper released by Dubai Film […]
Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), in partnership with Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, released a white paper examining key areas for growth and investment in the MENA media production market, with recommendations for how countries in the region can build world-class media ecosystems
According to a white paper released by Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), Arabic content production is still below its fullest potential, and presents the biggest opportunity for growth in the Middle East media production market.
The white paper titled Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa Media Production Market, was released by DFTC in association with Oliver Wyman, on the sidelines of the 10th edition of Dubai International Film festival.
The white paper stated that although Arabic is the sixth world language in terms of GDP, there is still a significant lack of Arabic media content. Between 2005 and 2010, the Middle East contributed only 0.72% of the films produced in the world. Furthermore, Arabic film and TV production represent only 0.03% of GDP in the MENA region below comparable markets elsewhere.
Although, collectively the MENA region has been active in its film and TV production, none of the local ecosystems have yet to truly meet global standards. While the region has some obvious strengths, like its diverse and unique locations, ecosystems in MENA need to focus on some specific priorities in order to advance, these include:
Film: Developing a targeted incentive structure to attract the global film production market
TV: Improving the structural issue with TV audience measurement through the implementation and adoption of people-meters in key markets
Both: Enabling the creation of a readily available pool of production talent
Improvements in each area will not only enable the MENA region to open up to the global production market, but will also foster the organic growth of local Arabic content production. As media production grows, it will justify the incremental investment in production infrastructure and content development, and draw in the talent required to support it.
Egypt established itself early as the leading media ecosystem in Arabic film and TV content production, largely due to its indigenous actors, directors, and other artists (Egypt is also home to a vibrant music industry). Lebanon is also known for its deep talent pool, fostering short-form production such as TV shows and commercials, and more recently expanding into international formats and film. With varied location offerings and proximity to the United States and Europe, Morocco has become a preferred site for Hollywood film production.
Jordan has also benefited from its history-rich locations and the creation of a strong film commission to ease the filming process. More recently, however, power has begun to shift towards the Gulf countries, where governments are beginning to take a vested interest in the creation of media ecosystems.
More recently, however, power has begun to shift towards the Gulf countries, where governments are beginning to take a vested interest in the creation of media ecosystems. The UAE, in particular, has played an active role, with the government to develop its media landscape. The white paper revealed Dubais strong potential to become a global media production hub meeting the highest industry standards.
Dubais TECOM Media Cluster has taken measures to: ensure ease in doing business, build the necessary infrastructure, and to develop the talent and financing required to move to the next level. Thanks to its many business parks, it has established itself as an economic hub, hosting nearly 5,000 companies, with 1,800 of them located within its Media Cluster (Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, International Media Production Zone), spanning the entire media value chain.
The paper highlighted the achievements of Dubai in the areas of production infrastructure, such as the state-of-the-art sound stages at Dubai Studio City and the creation of the Dubai Film and TV Commission, which provides the necessary framework to ease the production process for filmmakers.
Due to this focused effort and facilitation from the government and private entities, in less than a decade, Dubai has experienced significant growth in media production. In fact, and even taking the 2008 recession into account, Dubai production experienced a 9% CAGR through 2012. Dubais film production industry has grown over the last few years with 19 films being shot in 2012, originating from various countries such as the U.A.E., India, United States, China, Germany, and France.
Indeed, Dubais film production industry has benefited from an existing production capability for TV programmes and commercials and from being an attractive shooting location. Advertisers have been consistently drawn to its diverse location offerings, enabling it to develop a sustainable, year-round industry. This can be seen through the significant percentage of Dubai-based crew deployed on large film productions shot in Dubai such as Syriana (2005), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011), Switch (2012), and The Bourne Legacy (2012).
Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film & TV Commission, commented on the findings: Dubai has become the regional trailblazer for the media industry in recent years, benefitting both the emirate and the UAE at large. We acknowledge that gaps remain in areas such as the production of Arabic content, providing access to talent, and audience measurement, and steps are already being taken to improve these. In fact, the first annual report of TV audience figures was released by TView just this November, and these will be released regularly from now on, providing film and TV producers with the insights they need to secure investment. Building talent and increasing Arabic content are major pillars of the Dubai Film and TV Commissions mandate and so these areas will be a key focus for us moving forward.
Three key actions stood out which could dramatically change Dubais global position and help take it to the next level: improving access to talent by offering longer-term residency to production crew; developing more formalised film incentives; and improving TV audience measurement across the region. According to the paper, if Dubai develops and implements such changes, its position as an internationally renowned media production hub would strengthen and progress dramatically.
Jeff Youssef, Associate Partner at Oliver Wyman, said: The global media and entertainment industry generated nearly USD1.6 trillion in revenue last year, and the direct benefits from employment opportunities to cultural enrichment generated for a country by the core film and TV industry are substantial. Media production is becoming increasingly important in a number of countries in the MENA region. However, markets need to assess their performance against key production requirements and take concrete steps to address their shortfalls.
Lack of peoples: A challenge
The MENA regions pan-Arab TV market suffers due to its lack of a reliable TV audience measurement system. Without timely and reliable data, advertisers cannot be confident in their investment, and they are less likely to spend the full amount they would normally allocate to Pan-Arab TV. Thus, the Pan-Arab TV advertising market is heavily depressed compared to benchmarks. Pan-Arab TV advertising spend as a proportion of regional GDP is 2.6 times lower than Western markets and two times lower than Asia Pacific countries. Significantly lower advertising spend has further implications down the rest of the media chain, reducing broadcaster revenue potential and negatively impacting the spend on content production.