FAST in MENA - September 2023
The first “pure” FAST platform is finally up and running.
Hey streamers 👋
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Welcome to the 9th FAST in MENA update of the year.
What’s new in MENA?
The FAST channels in MENA - September 2023
The definition(s) of FAST, from a media tech expert
This newsletter is sponsored by Roya Media Group, the largest privately owned media company in Jordan.
I’ve been following Roya Media Group for several years now, and I’m impressed how quickly they became a trusted and respected source of content in Jordan and all over the Middle East. Roya Media Group represents today several platforms, brands and companies: Roya TV, Roya News, Roya Kids, Donya Ya Donya, Roya Waves, Roya Podcast, Roya Music, Roya Iraq, Roya Egypt, Roya KSA and Roya Palestine.
I can easily say their streaming platform Roya TV is driving the adoption of FAST in the region, with already 35 channels focused on many genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Cooking, Drama, Entertainment, Historical, Kids/Teens, Music, News, Podcast/Vodcast, Political, Religion, Sports, etc.
Do you want to know more about Roya TV and all the brands of Roya Media Group? Do you think you can bring value to their ecosystem with your content, Tech or Advertising? Just get in touch with them below 👇
What’s new in MENA?
A lot happened this month: The soft launch of the first FAST dedicated platform in the region, and a positive growth of 15 new channels.
Let’s start with the new platform, Tarfeeh TV:
TarfeehTV is the first “pure” FAST platform in MENA. The service launched with 5 channels only, but looks very promising and should add 20+ FAST streaming TV channels in English, Arabic, French, Hindi and Urdu in the coming weeks. Make sure you don’t miss my next update in October.
Asharq Documentary launched this month as a “new Arabic factual documentary multi-platform”. The content is mainly accessible from the OTT platform Asharq Now. It’s also interesting to find this brand on Shahid as a FAST channel. From my point of view, it’s a very smart way to use FAST as a powerful Marketing tool. Asharq Documentary will uncover stories about politics, business, economics and history. This launch is part of SRMG’s transformation to expand its media portfolio.
The Fast Channels in MENA - September 2023
Here’s the updated number of FAST channels available on MENA local services in September 2023. As a reminder, I consider a FAST channel any streaming linear programming available for free to consumers, with commercials.
My main observations:
Shahid removed 11 channels from its existing portfolio, and added 14 new ones, including:
Elham Ali: An upcoming Saudi artist who's revolutionizing the drama scene with daring characters and stories.
AlThaqafeya: A Saudi channel devoted to bringing you the biggest variety of cultural content, from fashion to cooking, poetry, film, talk shows, documentaries, and much more.
BBC’s Top Gear: Buckle up for exhilarating adventures, jaw-dropping challenges, and a bit of sarcasm.
Nature Time: Compelling stories about wildlife that bring the most intricate wonders of nature to light.
Asharq Documentary: This Arabic, multiplatform channel airs political, historical, and economic documentaries around the clock, providing an in-depth analysis of contemporary world issues.
Tarfeeh TV launched with the 5 following FAST channels:
Alaraby News: A News channel covering Arab and international events, with diverse political and social programs.
Alaraby 2: A diverse cultural entertainment channel broadcasting from Doha. The channel offers viewers a package of programs, from culture, art, tourism, heritage, music, drama, and documentaries.
Syria TV: A channel targeting all Syrians, and using new and traditional means of communication in order to shed light on the issues of Syrians, at home and in the diaspora.
Laab Wa Jad: A channel dealing with the younger generation which focuses on informative entertainment in a fun and amusing manner
Doc Bil Arabie
Roya TV already reached a total number of 35 FAST channels. Here are the new ones available:
Around The World
Ana bahkelak al gessa
Sayidat Al shasheh: A collection of Arabic films showcasing the legend of the Golden Era, the iconic actress, Faten Hamama.
Dehek W bas: A channel dedicated to Arab comedy, bringing together the finest Arab comedians with the most delightful cinematic works.
Sa’at Mahaba: A set of social, moral and spiritual concepts and topics that touch people's concerns in the light of enlightened Islamic thought.
911: The great role played by the Rescue Police in helping people and maintaining security.
Helwa Ya Donya: Helwa Ya Donya channel broadcasts reports from Helwa Ya Dunya show, exploring the beauty of Jordan.
ZST: Zest is a cooking channel that brings delicious recipes to viewers through fun content.
The TV platform owned by Rotana launched 2 new channels this month:
Best Movies: A channel that includes the best Egyptian films that achieved the highest viewership rate in the last 20 years
The definition(s) of FAST, from a media tech expert
I had a very interesting discussion recently with Guillaume Briand, a media Tech expert based in Dubai. Today, I’m giving him the floor to share his views on FAST:
Running the FAST Race.
In the ever-evolving realm of media and entertainment, there's a buzzword that has been garnering attention: FAST, an acronym for Free Ad Supported Streaming. It's become the focal point of conversations, yet there's a captivating nuance to this discussion. FAST brings together an array of stakeholders who typically don't sit at the same table. Content owners, platforms, broadcasters, TV manufacturers, Ad Tech firms, and tech vendors all converge in this dialogue, each bearing their distinct objectives and interests. Interestingly, they discuss FAST as if everyone at the table shares the same perspective, objectives, and definition. If only.
According to the Variety Intelligence Platform's "Life in the FAST Lane" report, FAST is one of the two major free streaming formats, the other being AVOD. This should not be confused with FAST platforms, which can be segmented into three broad types: those available on specific smart TVs (LG Channels, Vizio WatchFree+), those on specific connected devices (Tivo+, Fire TV News, Altice Stream), and those accessible on a multitude of TVs and devices (Pluto TV, Xumo, Plex Live TV, etc.). FAST and FAST platform are not interchangeable terms. Do you disagree with these definitions? If you do, thank you; this aligns precisely with my point. If you agree, even better – perhaps we are finally approaching a consensus here.
To delve deeper into this topic, let's draw a parallel with running. Picture gathering shoe manufacturers, podiatrists, dietitians, professional athletes, and amateurs around a table to discuss running and its benefits. You see, everyone believes they know what running is and how to run: one foot in front of the other, and you're off! However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Unless we first acknowledge the different forms of running, tailored for various styles such as sprinting, endurance, trail running, and the different purposes behind them, such as recreational, professional, or health-related, our perception of running may be flawed. Each of these forms demands a distinct technique, training regimen, and level of intensity. This differentiation isn't limited to mechanics or motion; it also extends to a fitness perspective. Furthermore, our interests in running, whether they relate to traumatology, commercial aspects, health, or other factors, shape our perspectives. This analogy neatly reflects the complexity of the FAST landscape.
Let's take this a step further: What is your objective with running? Is it to improve your fitness, earn a living, or alleviate stress? If so, are you certain that running is the optimal choice? Are there alternative methods to consider? Often, the primary question to address before diving into a solution (and assigning it a name) is: What is your ultimate objective?
For example, imagine you are a broadcaster offering a free-to-air service and planning to introduce linear services with ad insertion. Would you categorize this service as a FAST service? In theory, you could. However, since your platform is already free, what you are essentially doing is introducing ads to monetize your content. You are maximizing your revenue. But in a similar scenario where you license your content to a paid OTT platform, they might be engaged in FAST, while your focus remains on optimizing revenue. While this may seem like a matter of semantics, it is critically important to define your objectives based on your role within the ecosystem. If you are a content owner, your goal might be to optimize the revenue generated by your catalog, including the long tail. If you are a platform, your objectives could encompass customer retention, customer acquisition, market penetration, market share acquisition, and revenue diversification. Having well-defined objectives allows you to establish the appropriate metrics for evaluating the performance of your strategy. Evaluating your performance over 100 meters when you're running a marathon simply does not provide meaningful insights.
Now, let’s add a piece to the puzzle: data. If you are reading this article and you happen to be a runner, regardless of your running style and motivation, the likelihood of you using a tracking device (like a watch or phone) to capture data about your performance – distance, steps, route, calories, heart rate, and more – is high. The same principle applies to FAST and monetization in general. To enhance your performance in the realm of streaming, you must diligently gather data, as much as possible. This data is your compass for tailoring advertisements to suit your audience and their behaviors. It's time to set an extra place at the discussion table for a crucial player: the one providing this data. These insights will prove indispensable for shaping your strategy and successfully implementing it.
Only once you have decided what your objectives are and have identified the data you have or you need, you can decide about your strategy. It is easier said than done. Asking for advice can be useful and helpful. Contrary to the obvious, taking it SLOW, even for running, has its benefit.
The opinions and posts expressed are solely my own.
Thank you Guillaume for sharing your insights with The Streaming Lab community.
That’s all for today, the state of FAST in MENA in September 2023. If you enjoyed this breakdown, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues.
I hope everyone has a great week, see you online next Monday. Until then, enjoy The Continental From The World of John Wick on Prime Video MENA. Don’t miss the 2 exclusive videos about the history of the hotel from the cast, director and producers.
On October 4th, I will be moderating a content market Webinar by DICM . The topic? FAST in MENA of course ;)
Register here to get exclusive insights and learn from the companies driving FAST in the region.
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