Muslim media spend grew 7.2% in 2021 to $231 billion and expected to reach $308 billion by 2025.
The global COVID-19 pandemic initially ensured a captive audience for Muslim entertainment, but with the prolonged restrictions on movement, highlighted the struggle the industry has with producing new content.
However, the media market within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries is spreading its wings, particularly Gulf-based entertainment, as the world has reopened and production returned to full swing. Underpinning the uptick are investments, expansion plans and operational developments tapping into the burgeoning demand.
According to DinarStandard’s State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2022 Muslim spend on media is expected to grow another 7.5% in 2022 to $249 billion and sustain that growth annually over the next four years to reach $308 billion in 2025. This comes as Arabic language streaming services and music platforms have expanded with Shahid VIP launching into the US market and Warner Music acquiring a stake in Rotana, the Middle East’s largest record label.
“The top three for the OIC media sector in 2021 has been the video gaming industry, localised content and Muslim-themed children’s content,” said Iman Ali, Research Analyst at DinarStandard.
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Global streaming giants like Netflix have continued to show interest in more localised content, from collaborations with Saudi production houses to commissioning content for Ramadan. The holy month last year saw a flurry of new productions within and beyond the OIC.
The mobile gaming industry has been a particular growth area over the past year, albeit with minimal Islamic-themed content. The Middle East has emerged as the fastest growing gaming market globally, rising 25% in 2020. Foreign investors have taken notice with Turkey’s gaming industry attracting billions of dollars in investment.
Digital developments are apparent in the OIC’s art scene through the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Behnood Javaherpour launched the country’s first NFT digital Islamic art agency, with digital art sold through cryptocurrencies at live auctions worldwide.
New mobile phone apps catering to Muslim lifestyles continue to be launched, ranging from ImamConnect, dubbed the “uber for imams”, to Sango, an audio social app building Muslim communities online.
Muslim-themed children’s content has cemented its position as one of the key foundations and drivers of Islamic-themed media. Malaysian show Omar & Hana, developed by Digital Durian, reached over 3 billion views on its YouTube channels in 50 countries, while Canadian streaming platform Muslim Kids TV launched in Indonesia and Pakistan.
However, new tax policies in the US and restrictions on advertising revenues from children’s content on YouTube has dented Digital Durian’s revenue model, prompting the production house to launch an app for the show and diversify into developing a pre-school curriculum.
With diversity a buzzword across many economic segments, the movie industry is increasingly onboard. British actor Riz Ahmed launched his “Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion” in the industry while the Oscars issued inclusion and diversity guidelines.
With demand for entertainment rising, from gaming to movies and streaming services, Muslim-themed media is poised for incremental growth as content producers target an audience of 1.8 billion Muslims.
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