In a further indication of the pay-TV boom underway in the Middle East and North Africa, a large-scale Discop Dubai TV content market is being launched by Basic Lead, the Los Angeles-based trade show organization that already runs branded Discop marts for the global industry in Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe.
The inaugural three-day edition of Discop Dubai will run January 29-31, 2017. The market will target countries from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf and the Asian subcontinent, including India. Organizers are expecting more than 1,500 attendees to descend upon Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah resort, the same venue where the Dubai Film Festival is held.
The Dubai Film Festival, in December, includes what is arguably the only bona-fide film market in the Middle East.
The new Discop Dubai TV market is being launched amid a double- digit increase in pay-TV households in the areas it targets.
According to a report issued last month by London-based firm IHS, the number of pay-TV households in the Middle East and North Africa grew in 2015 by 10% to 4.95 million. This prompted a 37% year-on-year revenue rise from subscriptions to 1.17 billion euros ($ 1.33 billion) last year.
IHS forecasts that pay-TV subscribers in the MENA region will steadily continue to grow in coming years, reaching 6.54 million pay-TV households by 2020, which represents a more than 30% growth margin. During this period revenues are expected to double to more than 2 billion euros.
That’s still a relatively low number considering that, also according to IHS, in 2015 there were 16.6 million pay-TV households in the U.K., by far Europe’s most mature pay-TV market. Still, the MENA region pay-TV boom is not negligible, and Dubai is playing a significant role in this process.
“Dubai is fast becoming one of the television’s industry most important regional hubs,” Basic Lead said in a statement, adding that there are “more than 135 international, regional and local TV channels presently transmitting from UAE in Arabic, English, Farsi, Hindi, Urdu and other languages.”
Discop Dubai is aiming to attract “global and local suppliers of popular television content, public and private broadcasters, advertising agencies, brand managers and airtime buyers, alongside pay-TV, satellite and mobile operators, independent producers, and alternative online distribution platforms,” the statement said.
The idea is to combine a classic market concept comprising premiere screenings of new Ramadan shows with international formats and high-end TV series, and presentations from industry innovators and events hosted by the Emirates’ top media enterprises.
The launch of Discop Dubai is likely to modify the territorial focus of the Discop Istanbul market, which has in past years catered to the MENA region, besides Turkey and Israel.
During the 2015 edition of Discop Istanbul, tensions emerged between Arab and Israeli participants when a panel of Arab judges refused to listen to format pitches from one of Israel’s top production companies. That may have played a part in Basic Lead deciding to branch out with a separate Dubai Discop.
“With viewers watching more TV now than ever before, regional co-productions and the trade in adaptation rights continues to contribute significantly to the rapid increase in international sales,” the statement quoted Discop founder Patrick Zuchowicki as saying.
“Discop Dubai, as all other Discop markets, will once again accompany that trend and open doors in new marketplaces that are still difficult to reach,” he added.