IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond: “Hollywood now has to compete with emerging markets”
The fate of television in a connected world, the future of cinema and the impact of piracy on the industry were just some of the issues debated by media experts yesterday during day two of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014.
The afternoon keynote speech, “The Next Big Thing for Big Screens,” was delivered by IMAX Corporation CEO Richard Gelfond, who said the dominance of US studios was being eroded by emerging markets such as China and India. For worldwide consumers, the quality and variety of their movie experience could only improve, as Hollywood faces increased competition from new foreign movie imports. In the new global movie market, the MENA region could offer a lot to international film makers as a business-supportive environment and by way of infrastructure.
“Those who wish to succeed in the new world order must understand that the world has changed. Because of the fact that every new film is a start-up, those countries that can best encourage new projects will have an advantage”, said Gelfond.
In his presentation, Mansoor Khan, the Director of MENA and South Asia at Kanter Media, told the Summit audience that “television remained the ‘super-medium’ around which all others revolve”. Despite predictions about television’s decline, the global industry is seeing revenues growing by up to 5 per cent every year.
Panellists participating in the session “Re-imaging Television – from Social to Second Screen” agreed that television remains a strong medium, with TV networks adapting well to changes in the media landscape to provide content through a new range of platforms.
Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia said: “the availability of new platforms means there is more emphasis on interactivity. The result is that we talk in terms of consumers rather than viewers these days”. Ralph Rivera, Director of Future Media at the BBC, said the BBC’s approach to the 2012 Olympics was “based on a promise that the consumers ‘never miss a moment’ – a strategy that required the full range of platforms to bring every detail of the event to consumers”. This approach has now become standard for the industry.
Four “Digital Disruptor” presentations highlighted the innovative spirit that underpins the media industry. Brothers and co-founders of Qabeela New Media, Mohammed and Peyman Al Awadhi, presented their interactive social media programme “Peeta Planet” as an example of how Arab media innovators could create their own narratives; David Lee, Founder and CEO of Shakr.com, showcased his company’s tailored video templates that enable small businesses to create their own advertisements; and Justin Cooke, CEO of Tunepics, discussed his new app offering music as a multi-sense experience. Cooke said: “emotion is a huge driver of music listeners’ preferences”
During the Sky News Arabia session on digital piracy, moderated by the channel’s news anchor, Assad Sawey, three industry experts tackled this increasing illegal business and ways to combat it. Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group warned that 10 per cent of media channels in the Middle East provide pirated content by downloading recently released material and broadcasting it through satellite TV channels. Greg Sweeting, Chief Legal Officer of the Media Zone Authority, Abu Dhabi – twofour54, added: “although the UAE authorities have shown leadership in tackling the piracy problem, stopping media pirates will always be a game of cat and mouse as technology advances”.
Rounding out day two of AMDS 2014 were four presentations by Chris Seth, Managing Director of Dynamic Signal; Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet; Vince Ghossoub, CEO of Falafel Games; and Ahmed Abbas, COO of Qsoft Holding, which opened a window on “Media and Millennials”. These entrepreneurs outlined likely new media futures in an age of accelerated globalisation. The increasing reliance of digital natives on social media suggested a decline of old print mediums and the creation of potentially vast new markets for innovative technology.