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Digital entertainment sees bright future in MENA as competition heats up
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 05 - 2020

Digital entertainment forms one of today's key economic sectors with promising growth, and is an arena where global and regional players are competing fiercely to dominate and offer the best viewing and interactive experiences to users.
Viewership of over-the-top (OTT) videos is forecast to surpass traditional broadcast TV over the next five years, with revenues from OTT media rising from $46.5bn in 2017 to $88.4bn in 2022, said Tony Saab, VP Content/Production & A-CTO at Intigral, a Saudi-based digital entertainment production leader in MENA.
Shedding some light on the entity's latest progress and outlook for the future, especially with the comprehensive transformation and development efforts currently underway in the Kingdom, Saab said original and exclusive entertainment productions that Jawwy TV offers can be considered a major value-adding factor for attracting viewers and being successful within this highly competitive and fast-paced industry.
In an interview, he explained that "by delving strongly into the production scene, Intigral aspires to lead the regional OTT sector with exclusive shows that entertain viewers across the region."
He noted that the tremendous growth in the OTT market "motivates us to stay abreast amid fierce competition by offering additional viewing value to our audiences that they can't find elsewhere."
Excerpts of the interview follow:
1) How will this contribute to the Saudi economy and the achievement of Vision 2030?
Through focusing on producing original Saudi entertainment offerings, we are empowering local talents including scenario writers, directors, producers, actors, and other professionals involved in the creative and technical production process. We aim to constantly add varied original productions that cater to the wide tastes and preferences of the regional audience, and are thus creating more opportunities for local artists and entertainment professionals, and consequently contributing towards raising the Saudization rate of the local entertainment industry as specified in the targets of Vision 2030, as well as augmenting the capabilities of the Kingdom in this sector.
Furthermore, as a window into a multicultural and progressive Saudi Arabia, Jawwy TV is breaking the stereotypes of Saudi culture and identity by promoting its true richness to viewers in the region and shedding light on its openness and holding much pride to its values and traditions, thus increasing the potential of attracting tourists to visit the Kingdom aimed at exploring its attractions and heritage sites that have been seen throughout our original shows.
2) Can you tell us more about the original productions you have worked on so far?
In July 2019, we started broadcasting our first original production, a Saudi action-comedy series titled ‘Galabt Jad', which features prominent Saudi stars and was filmed in the popular Georgian capital Tbilisi. ‘Galabt Jad' is an action-packed comedy which centers around a serious case of mistaken identity. The series was a huge success and received high ratings from both local and regional audiences.
Following our success, we unveiled the second original comedy series ‘Celebrity Studio' (Studio Al Mashaher) in September 2019. The show also features an elite cast of Saudi actors and is based on a concept that focuses on hosting celebrity guest stars and displaying surprising and entertaining moments that occur during the show's production.
We have also recently launched Bel Sa'a, our 3rd complete Saudi production to be aired on Jawwy TV. The show was originally created by Omar Al-Dini, with the story, scenario and dialogue developed by Farouk Al-Shuaibi. It is directed by a Tunisian director Asaad Al-Waslati, and features a number of talented Saudi actors and actresses. The series utilizes a comedy-thriller approach to narrate the challenges faced by two women, Amal and Asma, who launch a domestic-workers' office based on a pay-by-the-hour system and run wholly by women. The series follows their struggle to pay-off their SR1 million bank loan after being conned by the individual who provides workers for recruitment agencies.
The latest original shows produced by Intigral are La Nwagef, which is a one of a kind reality TV show in the MENA and follows the expedition of three young Saudi adventurers through Saudi Arabia on their motorbikes in a quest to explore its natural and historic treasures.
In addition, the series FBI, a comedy series following the story of three ladies who seek to protect women from fraudulent marriages through establishing investigations offices to inspect the history of men. They use humorous investigative methods including disguise and social media stalking to provide full reports about men and protect women from potentially harmful marriages.
3) How successful has it been for you?
All our shows broadcast so far have secured high viewership and unprecedented success as well as attracted more subscribers to join the growing audience base for Jawwy TV, which is considered the top OTT service provider in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
4) How else do you contribute in offering enriching experiences to viewers?
As part of its national social responsibility commitment and keenness to provide quality digital content that meets its users' aspirations and needs, whether entertainment-based, educational, or cultural, Jawwy TV is offering iEN educational channels through its basic Jawwy TV package and as part of its ‘Stay Home, Stay Educated' initiative launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Education as a precautionary and preventive measure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
iEN encompasses twenty channels that offer educational lessons within a simple and clear format that include examples. They target all educational stages, including primary, middle and secondary. The new channels are available to Jawwy TV platform subscribers encompassing Jawwy App and Jawwy Home at no additional cost, which adds more value to Jawwy TV and its offerings. It comes at a time when the importance of digital entertainment in general and e-learning in particular is highlighted, thus urging the need to establish a robust infrastructure for it, an area where Intigral stands out as a pioneer and exemplar.
In addition to the iEN channels, Jawwy TV is adding numerous new exclusive and original content options to its library to ensure fulfilling the needs of its users during those exceptional times and to emphasize its position as a one stop entertainment platform offering a rich plethora of digital entertainment selections including Live TV, TVOD movies, and SVOD libraries with over 20K titles.
5) What will Jawwy TV's offerings for Ramadan 2020 include?
Jawwy TV will be launching an array of exclusive and original content especially planned for Ramadan 2020, which will be available for both Jawwy TV App and Home users. The new titles encompass productions from all around the Arab World including the GCC, Egypt, and the Levant, in addition to modern children's entertainment programs produced using advanced technologies. Intigral had cooperated with some of the leading production companies in the region such as I See Media, Golden Light, and Protec, to name a few.
The new productions encompass eight original & exclusive series which are "Aldeirah", "Yamam","Hawas"," Itijah Khate'e", "Ejaza", "Bent w Walad", in addition to the recently produced drama series "Yana ya Gedo", which will also be broadcast via Jawwy TV platforms. Additionally, "Wide Khalijy" will be offering over 10 GCC series specially produced for Ramadan including "Mohammed Ali Roud". All the titles offered can be enjoyed without any commercial breaks for an enhanced entertainment experience. Moreover, viewers can also enjoy other Ramadan content on numerous TV channels offered by Jawwy TV, while utilizing convenient options such as re-broadcasting any missed episodes at any time. — SG

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