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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - RIYADH — As the streaming wars intensify in the entertainment industry, with competitors scramble to offer content libraries broad enough to both attract and retain customers, in the MENA region, one name stands out by delivering fully customizable digital entertainment and sports solutions. Intigral’s products are built on a cloud-based delivery platform using the latest technology to provide high-quality streaming services and create rich consumer engagement channels.
In an interview, Intigral CEO Hamoud Al Rumayan states that Intigral strives to offer unique products with exclusive digital content to position itself as a digital entertainment leader.
”It understands the needs of viewers who are continually seeking more varied content and further accessibility on all kinds of devices, and thus designs its offerings with the aims to fulfill those expectations,” he pointed out.
Owing to their highly flexible features, OTT services are rapidly on the rise both globally and in the region. In MENA alone, OTT subscribers have hit 4.5 million users in 2018, and revenues from this booming sector are forecast to reach $2.13 billion by year 2024, with $402 million in Saudi Arabia alone - four times the current figure.
OTT, or over-the-top media services, refer to online content streaming services, mainly video-on-demand, as well as audio streaming, messaging services, and Internet-based voice calling services. Accessing OTT services solely requires an active Internet connection, outperforming traditional connectivity requirements such as telecommunications networks and cable television, and offering heightened convenience and access to users.
In the Kingdom, several global, regional, and local OTT players are competing for a share in this sector.
Intigral, a prominent local player, operates as a fully autonomous but wholly-owned subsidiary of STC, and is tasked with developing top media products with outstanding creative content and design, in addition to innovative technical integration in the form of next-generation digital solutions.
Intigral’s objective is to build a product offering that serves the needs and expectations of various segments of Saudi and MENA societies, in addition to present solutions that are highly entertaining and accessible.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
• Can you walk us through the OTT sectors latest trends and updates in the region?
OTT video services are rapidly emerging as the preferred entertainment medium for most audiences, with over 50 million households across the world today consuming OTT video in the same pattern as traditional TV. The unlimited access to high-quality original content, and its availability through multiple devices at anywhere and anytime are the main reasons it has become so popular and continues to grow. Video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, and many others, have grown remarkably compared to 10 years ago.
• How does this sector contribute to the overall economic development of the region and KSA in particular?
As a major entertainment form, OTT video forms a key contributor to the region’s growing entertainment sector. For Saudi Arabia in particular, entertainment forms a main pillar of Vision 2030, and is set to ultimately contribute towards creating a varied knowledge-based economy. Intigral aspires to position itself as a leader in this national transformation journey by stepping into the production game and presenting hyper-local content relevant to Saudi audiences. Moreover, Intigral seeks to support the development of local talent through creating new opportunities for young creators, artists, and talents in the Kingdom.
• As a leading provider of OTT video products and billing services in the MENA region, how does Intigral seek to stand out amidst this highly competitive industry?
Intigral strives to offer unique products with exclusive digital content to position itself as a digital entertainment leader.
Furthermore, Intigral transcends traditional viewing by offering immersive digital content experiences with heightened engagement, through linking its applications with social media products, equipping them with interactive features, and incorporating predictive algorithms within them to assist with customized content discovery.
• What is Intigral’s product and service portfolio?
Intigral caters to progressive viewers seeking to fulfill entertainment options through its user-friendly applications and rich digital content conveniently available on multiple channels.
Among Intigral’s top products is Dawri Plus and Jawwy TV. Dawri Plus presents an advanced digital sports platform especially designed for Saudi and Arab football enthusiasts, with interactive streaming services for football matches and other sports. Intigral also offers Jawwy TV, a massive library of broadcast and on-demand media content encompassing a selection of noteworthy content, including the latest local, regional, and international movies, series, with top premium and free-to-air TV channels, which can be accessed either via smart devices or at home.
• What are the challenges within this continually evolving sector?
The OTT sector is highly competitive as new players continue to enter the market and existing international sector leaders continue to expand globally. To stay in the game, providers must present high-quality original content exclusive to their platforms to drive subscribers and viewers. To do so, Intigral has recently delved into the production scene, successfully producing and streaming three original shows so far, including Galabt Jad, a Saudi action-comedy series produced and directed by a team of skilled young Saudi professionals and considered one of the most distinguished Saudi productions, and Studio Al Mashaher which stars an elite cast of Saudi actors and adopts the concept of hosting celebrity guest stars and displaying surprising and entertaining moments.
Another major challenge for the industry is piracy, as content is becoming more widely available and increasingly accessible to viewers everywhere. Platforms must ensure their offerings guarantee the best value, experience, and convenience to users to attract them away from pirated options.
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