Egyptian Businessman Calls for Encrypting Football Matches to Boost Industry

Ihab Talaat to Majalla: Digital Streaming Platforms Boosting Arab TV Drama
Egyptian businessman Ihab Talaat speaking during an interview with Majalla in his Cairo office on April 24, 2021. (Photo by Menna A. Farouk)

Egyptian businessman and producer Ihab Talaat called upon the Egyptian government to encrypt all matches of the Egyptian Premier League in order to boost the football industry which has been suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have many football fans in Egypt who are very fond of the game and would do anything to watch the matches of their favorite teams,” Talaat told Majalla in an exclusive interview in his office in Cairo.

Talaat added that if the industry is now worth 500-600 million Egyptian pounds, it would be worth more than 7-8 billion Egyptian pounds after the encryption of football matches.

Football across the world lost $14.4 billion (£11.1 billion) during the coronavirus crisis, analysis conducted by FIFA suggested in September 2020. The governing body of the global game said that 150 of its 211 member associations had applied for emergency Covid grants, with one executive describing the situation as “impossible” for FIFA to mitigate alone.

Talaat is a famous Egyptian businessman who previously worked as a member of the Egyptian Football Association. He also works in the field of commercial, TV and cinematic production. His fame in this field came through a TV current affairs program called “El Beit Beitak (This Home Is Your Home)”, which started broadcast since 2004 but then stopped in 2010. He also produced 32 TV series that achieved much popularity.

DIGITAL STREAMING PLATFORMS ARE THE FUTURE

Talaat said that coronavirus is reshaping the production industry in Egypt and across the world as digital streaming platforms like Netflix as well as Shahid and Watch iT in the Arab world are gaining much momentum.

“Modern digital platforms are the future of drama in the coming period,” Talaat said.

“Even before coronavirus and the lockdown, people had become fed up with the idea of watching a TV series of 30 episodes, each episode of 30-minute duration, shown over an hour and a quarter due to the large number of advertisements. This led the audience abandoning TV and opting for the streaming platforms,” he said.

Talaat added that satellite channels have been greatly affected by the emergence of these platforms, saying that most series and movies will be watched in the future by the audience on these platforms according to their circumstances and appropriate dates.

“This is the language of the market and the upcoming movement of production and media. Whoever is unable to keep abreast of these developments will retreat and disappear from the market completely,” he said.

Netflix has seen subscriber numbers surge in 2020 as lockdowns around the world kept people at home where they want to be entertained. Almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of 2020, the firm said. That is almost double the new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019.

Around 18 TV series were broadcast on digital streaming platforms including Shahid and Watch iT during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

ENTERTAINING OPTIONS

Talaat said that he is planning to produce three TV series in the coming period that will vary from historical to light comedy.

He also said that he is not willing to produce a current affairs show but is thinking about an entertainment program.

“The current affairs shows are really making noticeable success in Egypt but I want to do something different since TV is now full of these kinds of shows,” he said.

For Talaat, the top current affairs show in Egypt is that which is presented by veteran TV broadcaster Amr Adib.

“My successful experience with El Beit Beitak has opened the door for a flood of current affairs shows in Egypt and I am proud of that pioneering experience,” Talaat said.