December 3, 2022



5 min read

ABEER ABUNAYYAN WRITES FROM SAUDI ARABIA –  Working in an more and more aggressive business, Netflix has been pursuing an aggressive progress technique supposed to extend and diversify its programming while having access to new, high-potential markets. Having consolidated its place in the US, the corporate has spent the previous few years forming strategic partnerships with broadcasters, pay-tv operators and manufacturing homes from world wide. In 2018, Netflix’s International Head of Enterprise Growth Maria Ferreras famous that strategic partnerships have performed an important function in enabling the streaming big to develop its subscriber base while maximizing its income. As a part of its efforts to strengthen its place in EMEA, in November 2020 Netflix signed a cope with Saudi Arabian manufacturing group Telfaz11. Having already labored with Telfaz11 in February 2020, it’s clear that the streaming big was happy with how its first mission within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia turned out.  In actual fact, Teflaz11’s brief movie assortment “Six Home windows within the Desert” was so profitable that Netflix additionally entered into an unique partnership with Myrkott, a Saudi animation studio.

Six Home windows within the Deserts is on the market on Netflix.

Netflix’s cope with Telfaz11 will see the manufacturing of eight movies, the primary of which needs to be launched on the finish of 2021. Whereas the movies will likely be primarily supposed for Saudi viewers, they may also be completely appropriate for worldwide viewers. As Netflix’s director of content material acquisition identified, the deal serves three essential functions: first, it would develop and diversify the corporate’s content material library; second, it would permit the platform to have interaction Arab audiences by telling tales that will resonate with them; lastly, it would present worldwide viewers with the prospect to expertise Saudi tradition and humor. Telfaz11’s CEO views the deal as a validation of Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning movie business, in addition to a possibility to showcase the nation’s lovely areas and untapped expertise. To completely admire the extent of the mission, suffice to say that the eight movies will likely be made out there to just about 200 million Netflix subscribers world wide. So what does the deal imply for the Saudi movie business?

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Initially, the Saudi movie business could also be considered a younger and small one. Within the Nineteen Seventies, Saudi Arabia witnessed a surge in conservative sentiment which resulted in a collection of controversial insurance policies supposed to encourage moral conduct, together with a cinema ban that lasted thirty-five years – from 1983 to 2018. When the ban got here into power, the native movie business was virtually non-existent because the nation lacked a vigorous group of filmmakers, and locals weren’t precisely passionate in regards to the large display. Nonetheless, a lot has modified in the course of the previous three many years. Globalization and technological innovation have uncovered younger Saudis to totally different cultures and concepts, stimulating their urge for food for each native and international content material. Having developed a style for movies in the course of the years of the cinema ban, many Saudis began travelling to neighboring international locations for the only goal of having fun with their cinemas, and universities started providing story-telling and film-making programs. When Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban in 2018, the Saudi business was able to take off.

After shopping for the rights to 6 movies made within the Kingdom from Telfaz11, one of many Kingdom’s main movie studios, Netflix’s newest collection will provide its world viewers an perception into tales informed by way of a Saudi lens. (AN Photograph)

By the point the ban was lifted, Telfaz11 had already amassed 20 million subscribers by itself community in addition to 2 billion views on its YouTube channel. A number of months after Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s resolution, Telfaz11 raised a whopping US$9 million from a number of native buyers, together with Saudi Expertise Ventures. The group vowed to make use of the funds to create extra monetized content material, develop into neighboring markets and achieve a greater understanding of the Saudi market. With Saudi Arabia’s media and leisure sector projected to develop exponentially over the subsequent few years, firms like Telfaz11 are ideally positioned to capitalize on native shoppers’ rising demand for leisure, propelling all the movie business into the longer term. By partnering with such firms, Netflix is clearly hoping to attain a sustainable, aggressive benefit over different streaming platforms while minimizing its reliance on Western markets. On the identical time, nonetheless, its cooperation with native manufacturing homes can be certain to have a tremendously constructive impression on the Saudi movie business, thus accelerating its progress. As Telfaz11’s CEO famous, there’s a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem of movie producers in Saudi Arabia – one thing which the nation lacked again within the Nineteen Eighties.


With demand for leisure on the rise, it’s now as much as Saudi movie makers to seek out methods to offer shoppers what they need and, within the course of, generate appreciable income. By offering native movie makers with the capital they should execute their initiatives and entry to hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic viewers scattered the world over, Netflix is already taking part in an important function in reawakening the Saudi movie business.  Telfaz11 is a manufacturing home that goals to showcase each Saudi tradition and humor, so  it’s extremely seemingly that its cope with Netflix will immediate each native and worldwide viewers to demand extra locally-produced content material, thus encouraging the streaming big – and maybe a few of its rivals – to additional help the Saudi media sector. In any case, Telfaz11’s Six Home windows within the Desert was very profitable not solely within the Arab world, but in addition in different areas, that means that there’s an untapped market on the market, ready to be understood and developed.

ABEER ABUNAYYAN is an LMU senior and an Asia Media staffer.

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