Arabic in demand as non-English content rules market

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A general view from the recently concluded “Sharjah Cinema Days” initiative. (WAM)
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  • This trend shift reflects not only changing consumer preferences but also highlights the significant potential for regional stories to gain global prominence.
  • The MENA region also sees demand for content in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese has soared, alongside a doubled interest in animation, says a latest report.

DUBAI — The global entertainment landscape is undergoing significant transformation, with audiences increasingly turning their attention toward non-English content.

A new report, a joint effort by Rise Studios and Parrot Analytics, illuminates these changing preferences, unveiling a surge in demand for Arabic-language content within the MENA region and underscoring its growing impact on the global entertainment scene.

The report titled “Evolution of Content Genre and Language Preferences in MENA” highlights a notable shift in consumer demand.

The proportion of global demand for non-English content has seen a remarkable increase from 23 percent in 2018 to 40 percent in 2023. This trend is particularly pronounced with Asian-language content, as evidenced by the international success of South Korean series like “The Glory,” which narrows the gap between demand and supply.

Embracing Content Diversity

The report reflects a similar trend within the MENA region itself. Non-English content now represents more than half of the demand, with viewers showing an increased interest in content in languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

This indicates the region’s growing openness to diverse storytelling experiences beyond the traditional dominance of English-language content.

Beyond Language

While the report emphasizes the growing significance of language in content creation, it also recognizes the importance of universally relatable themes and engaging narratives.

Drama continues to be the most popular genre, but the report points to a rising interest in animation among MENA audiences. This increased preference, evidenced by a 100 percent jump from 6 percent to 12 percent over the past five years, can be attributed to the development of compelling storylines that appeal to both young and adult viewers.

A Surge in Demand for Arabic-Language Content

Perhaps the most remarkable discovery of the report is the exponential increase in demand for Arabic-language content. This presents a significant opportunity for the creation and distribution of homegrown stories that connect with the 375 million Arabic speakers worldwide.

Bridging the Gap Between Local and Global

Amanda Turnbull, CEO and Co-Founder of Rise Studios, underscores the importance of “combining global appeal with local relevance” to produce content that meets audience demand and resonates culturally. This strategy aims to create stories that are not only highly demanded but also culturally rich, solidifying their place in the global entertainment landscape.

A general view from the recently concluded “Sharjah Cinema Days” initiative. (WAM)

Unlocking the Potential

The collaboration between Rise Studios and Parrot Analytics underscores the power of data-driven insights in navigating the evolving entertainment landscape.

By blending industry expertise with advanced analytics, this partnership seeks to “elevate the narrative richness of the region” and “unlock the potential of data to craft stories that not only entertain but also connect with and reflect the diverse tapestry of global audiences,” as stated by Wared Seger, CEO of Parrot Analytics.

Combining global appeal with local relevance will produce content that meets audience demand and resonates culturally.

Amanda Turnbull, CEO and Co-Founder of Rise Studios

The emergence of Arabic content creation within the MENA region is not just a reflection of changing regional audience preferences; it also signifies a substantial move toward diversifying the global entertainment scene.

By leveraging data-driven insights and developing compelling stories that resonate with both local and global audiences, Arabic-language content is set to play an increasingly vital role in captivating viewers around the world.

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