×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arab Media Landscape Expanding, but Opportunities for Local Industry Not Changing Much

Study says 26 percent of Arab indie film directors are women

DOHA — The media landscape in the Middle East is expanding, with distribution channels proliferating, driven by digital and pay-TV. But content diversification is moving at a much slower pace, and the local film industry is still not feeling much of an impact.

That was one of the key takeaways from a report presented Tuesday in Doha during the Doha Film Institute’s Qumra event which is becoming an important incubator and driver for Arab filmmakers. The Arabic word “qumra” is believed to be the origin of the word “camera.”

The report issued by Northwestern University in Qatar in partnership with the DFI underlined the proliferation of new TV channels – 159 between 2012 and 2014 – and pointed to pay-TV revenues almost doubling over the past five years to an estimated $975 million in the MENA region. It also opined that the recent entry of international SVOD players such as Starz Play and Netflix will be beneficial to consumers “through more non-linear programming at lower prices.”

But the current escalating competition for content in the pay-TV arena – which prompted Al Jazeera spin-off beIN to recently buy Hollywood mini-major Miramax – has yet to generate a significant windfall for the Arab industry, especially for producers making more highbrow content.

“Unfortunately the growth of TV channels doesn’t mean I’m making more money,” said prominent Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, whose Film Clinic shingle strives to make quality movies that can play in multiplexes. “Generalist TV is a significant component of how I recoup my budget. But when I sell to free-TV they usually want all rights to fight the competition, so I don’t get to monetise on pay or SVOD,” he lamented.

Interestingly between 2012-2015 in two of the biggest MENA movie markets, Lebanon and Egypt, Arabic-language films performed better on average at the box office per title than non-Arabic films, despite the market being dominated by non Arabic, mostly Hollywood, fare.

Since 2012 Egyptian pics have accounted for almost the entire box office take generated from Arabic-language films in Egypt and the UAE. Meanwhile Lebanese films have pulled nearly two-thirds of box office revenues in their home market.

So although the richer and more densely screened UAE has outpaced Egypt in terms of the box office it generates, Egypt still remains by far the top country for production of Arab movies, especially commercial cinema. Almost 80 percent of all films screened in the UAE, Lebanon, and Egypt – three of the biggest markets – were produced in Egypt.

When it comes to production of more quality movies, however, there is a much greater geographic diversification, and also an interesting gender aspect: there are quite a lot of Arab women directors making “indie” movies.

Independent films from the Middle East are “twice as likely” to be directed by a woman said the study, which claims a 26% female directors’ representation and calls it “far higher than studio films in the West or the Middle East.”

More TV

  • Smithsonian subscription VOD

    Smithsonian Networks Launches New Subscription VOD Service, Folding in Smithsonian Earth

    Smithsonian Networks has expanded its push to reach cord-cutters with the launch of Smithsonian Channel Plus, promising subscribers 1,000-plus hours of streaming nonfiction programming for $5 per month. The new subscription VOD service incorporates and supersedes Smithsonian Earth, the company’s $3.99-monthly SVOD service that launched three years ago, which had been geared around nature and wildlife. [...]

  • 'My Brilliant Friend' Scores Brilliant Ratings

    'My Brilliant Friend' Scores Brilliant Ratings at Home

    With its international rollout well underway, the critically acclaimed TV series “My Brilliant Friend,” based on the first of Italian author Elena Ferrante’s bestselling “Neapolitan Novels,” is scoring strong ratings at home in Italy, and is also playing well in the U.S. and U.K. The show, which explores the bounds of female friendship, is being [...]

  • Himesh Patel, Ewen Leslie Join BBC

    Himesh Patel, Ewen Leslie Join BBC Adaptation of Man Booker Prize Winner ‘The Luminaries’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Himesh Patel and Ewen Leslie have joined “The Luminaries,” with production now underway on the highly anticipated series adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel. The pair join Eve Hewson (“The Knick”), Eva Green (“Penny Dreadful”) and Marton Csokas (“Into the Badlands”) in the period piece. The high-end drama is being produced by Working [...]

  • Ryan KadroPaleyLive NY: The News Is

    ‘CBS This Morning’ Executive Producer in Potential Exit Talks

    Ryan Kadro, the executive producer of “CBS This Morning” and one of the architects of the A.M. program, is currently in contract discussions that could lead to his exit from the show, according to three people familiar with the matter. Kadro’s contract is slated to run out at the end of the year, and he [...]

  • NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California

    NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California Live' Daily Daytime Series

    NBC’s three California O&Os are set to launch a live daily lifestyle series dubbed “California Live.” The series will air at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday across KNBC-TV Los Angeles, KNTV-TV San Francisco and KNSD San Diego. The show will have some modular segments that will be customized for each market, with an emphasis on [...]

  • TV Roundup: Netflix Sets 'Tidying Up

    TV News Roundup: Steven Yeun Joins 'Twilight Zone' at CBS All Access

    In Wednesday’s roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” and Steven Yeun joins Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot. FIRST LOOKS  Variety has an exclusive behind-the-scenes first look at Season 2 of Showtime’s “SMILF,” featuring creator and star, Frankie Shaw. The new season, which premieres Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, finds Bridgette trying to move [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    CBS News Settles Suit Alleging Harassment by Charlie Rose

    CBS News settled a lawsuit filed by three women who alleged they were harassed by former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose, and claimed CBS did not act despite being aware of the situation. The amount awarded to the women was not disclosed at their request, according to a CBS News spokesperson. “The matter has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content