The growth of the media sector in Saudi Arabia
After years of stagnation, the Saudi media sector went through an overhaul. Today, Saudi Arabia leads the media transformation in the Middle East.
The media industry aims to create 16,000 jobs, boost media company GDP, and raise sector revenue from 17% to 42% in the national economy in the coming years. Owing to the Vision 2030 initiatives, the media scene in the Kingdom is quickly becoming the go-to place for content in the region.
Key facts about the media sector in Saudi Arabia
Of the media sector between 2015 and 2020
SAR 12.4 billion
Media sector market size
SAR 6.3 billion in 2020
The video market is the largest in the pan-Arab region
Saudi top media projects
The media industry is growing
Worth SAR 17.4 billion ($4.6 billion), Saudi Arabia is in the lead in the MENA region, with a 30% market share in the media industry. The Kingdom plans to invest USD 64 billion over the next few years to promote and diversify the scope of this industry, according to the General Entertainment Authority (GEA). GEA, which was created in May 2016 as one of the primary initiatives of Vision 2030, aims to organize and develop the entertainment sector, to support the infrastructure required for the industry to thrive.
To tap into the potential of this large market and to drive significant economic growth from the media, entertainment, and events industries, the government is focused on attracting international investment in these sectors. To encourage this, the Ministry of Culture and Information (MoCI) and GEA are working toward building local media expertise in Saudi Arabia while helping locally established entertainment businesses spread their reach and influence in the international markets.
While some traditional media channels are still finding their footing, the digital sectors are growing rapidly. Several factors contribute to this upward curve.
A young audience
Saudi Arabia has the largest, most literate, and tech-savvy young adult cohort. In fact, more than half of the population is under 30 years old, and they’re eager for new digital experiences — from online gaming to streaming music and videos.
A growing digital presence
On average, Saudis spend six hours a day on digital media and around three hours a day on social media. As almost everyone owns a smartphone, we’re likely to see even more growth in the digital sector in the future.
Increases in spending
Gaming is another driver of exponential growth in the media market. Every month, Saudis are spending around SAR 1.2 thousand for games, which has expanded the market to over SAR 2.6 billion in just five years.
The potential of local content
Arabic-language media content is the preferred choice of every third Saudi national, which gives us a glimpse into a large, underserved, media-hungry population. Driven by these insights, large corporations such as Netflix have already started leveraging this potential by localizing their content, as well as dubbing or subtitling shows for their Saudi Arabian market.
The Augustus media success story
AstroLabs was fortunate to partner with Augustus, a digital media holding company, to help them with setting up their base and operations in Saudi Arabia and launching Lovin Saudi in September 2017. Lovin Saudi is a media platform that captures the global and local trends in lifestyle, news, latest developments in business and technology, and translates them into captivating, engaging, and more importantly, entertaining content for digital media consumers in the Kingdom.
Their content has been seen and loved by millions on visual, audio, and text platforms. In February 2019, Augustus added yet another feather to its media cap in the form of SMASHI TV, which is a business news network covering the most innovative products, services, and technologies. In their own words, “SMASHI is a mindset, it’s for the driven, the dreamers, and the doers.”
Future of the Saudi Media Sector
To boost innovation in media and entertainment, Saudi Arabia is welcoming entrepreneurs to establish media companies in the land. There’s a wide scope for innovative technology solutions at places of pilgrims and cultural heritages across the country as well as in the events sector.
Vision 2030 aims at developing new cultural and entertainment destinations such as Saudi Media City that will be indicative of the aspirations of the citizens of Saudi Arabia. The strategic national plan also outlines the support to be provided to writers, authors, and directors, empowering them to reflect the changes in modern Saudi Arabian society through their work.
Some of the goals planned for the media industry in the next few years are to have over 16,000 media jobs in the country, grow the GDP of media companies, and increase the revenue from this sector from 17% to 42% in the national economy.
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SRMG (Saudi Research & Marketing Group) is the biggest publishing entity in the Middle East, mainly dedicated to delivering information products and services through the publication of newspapers and magazines. They publish across the Middle East and globally.
The Ministry of Media, headquartered in Riyadh, is the main government body in Saudi Arabia responsible for regulating the media sector and communications between the Kingdom and other countries.
According to Statista, the social networking sector in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach SAR 1,7 million by 2027. The total revenue is expected to grow by 6% annually.
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