VS Next Day 8: Adapt formats in MENA

Focusing on format adaptation at MENA, Heba Koraye, content market specialist at H.Consult, moderated one of the keynotes at LA Virtual Screenings 2022, where she had as guests Tarek El Ganainy, CEO at Tvision; Khuloud Abohomos, CEO at Art Format Lab and Nahi Sannan, CCO at Eagle Films Middle East.

Korayem started the talk by offering a brief insight into the region where there are 22 Arabic-speaking countries, 8 popular spoken dialects, 2.5$ trillion collective GDP: ‘This makes the region have a large media balance, +700 satellite TV channels, +15 regional OTT platforms, +20 telcos IPTV networks, +100 production companies, and +50 popular Arabic dubbing houses’. In addition, the executive mentioned that these territories are currently one of those with the highest internet penetration, and that is why so many niche OTTs have emerged.

Eagle Films’ Sannan spoke about the two stages he envisions in his search for formats: ‘One of the first things we determine is the feasibility for adaptation in the region and for it to be complemented by Arabic culture. the format has to be related to us regarding characters, motif, plots, costumes, and settings, all these have to be related to us. After having determined this, we evaluated its adaptability in each country, since each country in MENA has its own dynamics, both legal and cultural’.

For his part, Abohomos from Art Format Lab, explained that he follows a 3-point triangular strategy: ‘The first is to observe the format and its proven success in other territories, at this point we follow a format for a year and see how its performance is. and its impact; the second point is the feasibility of its adaptation in our market, such as its production values, that here we have to take into account what can and cannot be adapted in this region, taking into account that due to cultural differences, there are themes that cannot be broadcast on TV; and the final point is to see the trend of this content in the country and evaluate how to differentiate it from the other content available in the market, here we calculate the costs of acquiring it, producing it and keeping it on the air’.

As for Tvision, Ganainy spoke of the successful adaptation of Suits in this market: ‘Suits was an unprecedented success, because it was very different from the formats that are in the MENA. But we let ourselves be carried away by the fact that the American version was one of the most viewed contents here, and although many agreed that it would not surpass the American version, it was quite the opposite, becoming one of the 5 most viewed content on the OSN platform. in the United Arab Emirates.

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