LONDON: The Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC Group is to launch a new production unit — MBC Studios — in an effort to increase the production of high-quality film and television content for audiences in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East region.
The new studios are expected to give a boost the Saudi and Middle Eastern TV and film industry as well as meet the increased demand for more non-English language TV content in the region.
The production unit will specifically focus on dramas for both TV and film that will appeal to Middle East and North African viewers, a statement from MBC Group said.
It will build on the work of the company’s existing production units: O3 Productions Mena, based in Dubai; AlSadaf in Saudi Arabia and O3 Medya in Turkey.
“Due to the existence of an untapped story reservoir in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East across all genres of content, MBC Studios will take the initiative to produce the region’s most compelling stories for cinema, television and on-demand platforms,” read a statement on Sept. 18.
The and operates 18 TV channels including MBC Drama, which broadcasts Arabic drama 24 hours a day and the Al-Arabiya news channel.
MBC’s TV channels have also broadcast the Arabic version of “X Factor” as well as “Arab Idol” and the new Saudi soap opera “Al Assouf” launched earlier this year and set in 1970s Saudi Arabia.
“Content is the fuel that drives the success of both MBC television and Shahid.net, our VOD [video-on-demand] platform. Building on the group’s successes in drama, we are now expanding our ambition and widening our horizons yet further,” said Sam Barnett, CEO of the MBC Group.
MBC brought in Peter Smith to head up the new MBC Studios earlier this month. Smith is considered an industry veteran with a wealth of international experience, having previously held the role of president of International Home Entertainment at Universal Pictures.
“The future is certainly positive for MBC Studios especially in terms of leveraging the significant trend for non-English language television content to travel to more global markets,” said Smith in a statement.
MBC Group said it would release more information on specific projects the subsidiary will work on in the coming months.