Netflix committed to Arab world production, to test Arabic dubbing

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Netflix's Todd Yellin said the Arab world would inspire more 'originals', which globally have included 'Stranger Things' and 'La Casa de Papel.'
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Netflix's 'Stranger Things'
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Netflix's 'La Casa de Papel'
Updated 23 April 2018
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Netflix committed to Arab world production, to test Arabic dubbing

  • Internet-streaming giant says it is looking to boost production in the Middle East
  • Netflix said it is filming its first Arabic series 'Jinn' later this year

ROME: “Stranger Things” certainly happened in the US — but future hit Netflix series could well emerge from the Arab world.
The Internet-TV giant, which also made “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” says it is looking to boost production in the region following the announcement of its first Arabic “originals” production earlier this year.
The US-based Netflix this month reported better-than-expected growth to 125 million subscribers — but lags regional rivals in the Middle East and North Africa, where its production activity has been extremely limited.
But that will change over the next few years as Netflix looks to “ramp up” regional production of series, a senior executive told Arab News.
Netflix said in February that it is filming “Jinn,” its first original Arabic series, later this year. Todd Yellin, vice president of product at Netflix, said more shows are set to follow.
“It won’t take long — over the next couple of years expect a couple more to come in and it to ramp up,” he said. “We’ll invest and we’ll try some Arabic originals.”
The executive, speaking at a Netflix event in Rome, said that producing more shows in the region could help build cultural bridges between the Arab region and rest of the world.


“I don’t want us to be deprived of any great storytellers and I know there’s going to be some in Arabic countries — we know there are, and we want to access them,” Yellin said.
“It’s healthy psychologically … when people are exposed to people of other nations and what they do, then you gain understanding, and we start eroding away all the ignorance. So that’s the goal.”
The supernatural teenage drama “Jinn” is to film in Jordan, with the six-episode series expected to hit the screens in 2019.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, said Jordan has “very developed infrastructure” for producing series but that there were opportunities elsewhere in the region.
“Producing them in Jordan, or Egypt or Saudi Arabia all are good options … There are great places to produce all over the world; it depends on the story that you are trying to tell,” he said.
Hastings pointed to the popularity of YouTube in the Middle East — with Saudi Arabia having one of the highest per-capita usages of the video platform — as evidence of the opportunity for Internet-TV players.
“YouTube is huge throughout the region, so we definitely see a big opportunity to do great shows. But our current shows are very popular in the Middle East — it’s not Middle East only programming,” Hastings told Arab News.


THE LIST
New series announced by Netflix:
- La Casa de Papel Part 3
The Spanish heist sensation returns.
- First Dutch original series
This show will tell the story of a group of students who have it all: Youth, wealth, power … and a portal to a demonic world from the Dutch Golden Age.
- Mortel
Fifth original series from France tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force.
- The Wave
This series, from Germany, is based on the hit movie of the same name and is inspired by real events.
- Luna Nera
An original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy.
- The English Game
A six-part drama about the invention of football written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.
- Turn Up Charlie
An eight-part comedy series from the UK starring Idris Elba.



Netflix also plans to test dubbing of its shows in Arabic, as currently only a few kids’ shows are available with a voiceover in that language.
“We don’t dub yet into Arabic … We’ll test it. (There are) no immediate plans but I can see us doing that eventually, to test it,” Yellin said.
“Last year we localized into Romanian, into Greek. We’ve been in Arabic (with subtitles) since the beginning of 2016. You’ll see more languages on Netflix by next year and the year after. We want more people to access the service.”
Netflix last week revealed that it had added 7.4 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, a 50 percent increase on the same quarter last year, outpacing analyst expectations.
Yet the US service lags some regional rivals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to data from IHS Markit.
The Starz Play and Shahid Plus services each have more than a quarter of Internet-TV subscribers in the region, while Netflix’s share is just 16.5 percent.
But Netflix is expected to see a “significant” increase in its MENA market share, according to Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal research analyst at IHS Markit.
This increase will be facilitated by partnerships with telcos and pay-TV operators, Papavassilopoulos said, citing a deal with the Dubai-based OSN to make Netflix available on set-top boxes.
“These kinds of partnerships are very important in emerging markets like MENA,” Papavassilopoulos said.
He added that localization — in content, currency support and cooperation with local creators — is also very important for regions like MENA.
“All these are also factors that will facilitate Netflix’s efforts to grow its customer base in the MENA region,” he said.
Netflix last week said it is nearly doubling its film production in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — with over 100 projects originating in the region in 2018.
It unveiled several new European projects including “The English Game” from the UK, a six-part drama about the invention of football written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.
(Additional reporting by Rebecca Spong)


Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

Updated 20 October 2018
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Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

  • The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers
  • The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size

BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will charge hardware firms up to $40 per device to use its apps under a new licensing system to replace one that the European Union this year deemed anti-competitive, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The new fee goes into effect on Oct. 29 for any new smartphone or tablet models launched in the European Economic Area and running Google’s Android operating system, the company announced on Tuesday.
The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size, the person said. It is standard across manufacturers, with the majority likely to pay around $20, the person added.
Companies can offset the charge, which applies to a suite of apps including the Google Play app store, Gmail and Google Maps, by placing Google’s search and Chrome Internet browser in a prominent position. Under that arrangement, Google would give the device maker a portion of ad revenue it generates through search and Chrome.
Tech news outlet the Verge reported the pricing earlier on Friday, citing confidential documents.
The European Commission in July found Google abused its market dominance in mobile software to essentially force Android partners to pre-install search and Chrome on their gadgets. It levied a record $5-billion fine, which Google has appealed, and threatened additional penalties unless the company ended its illegal practices.
The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers to become the default apps for search and browsing, analysts said.
Qwant, a small French search company that has been critical of Google, said in a statement on Friday that it was “satisfied that the European Commission’s action pushed Google to finally give manufacturers the possibility to offer such choices to consumers.”