With the approach of the holy month of Ramadan, satellite channels are racing to purchase TV series that will give them the highest viewing rates.
This year, however, the annual Ramadan television drama series must compete for viewers with the FIFA World Cup, which some say will negatively affect advertising.
Mahmoud Dallal, a lecturer at Cairo University's College of Fine Arts, said the new TV drama season features a strong comeback from top tier stars such as Adel Imam, Yahya al-Fakharani, Mahmoud Abdul Aziz, Farouq al-Fishawi, Nadia al-Gindi after a hiatus and Yossra.
The general trend in this year's Ramadan television steers clear of political and religious aspects and focuses on social, romantic, comedic and historical issues, he said.
"Viewers need to take a break from politics, which they have been experiencing for the past three years, and instead engage in a comfortable atmosphere far from the perils of politics and daily woes," Dallal said. "Also, political developments in Egypt are happening at a fast pace, which is why production companies do not want to gamble on anything of a political nature."
Marketing data suggests a large segment of viewers will not be watching the traditional Ramadan dramas because they coincide with the World Cup, which could affect the advertising market, said Al-Giza Advertising marketing director Mohsen Maher.
"This is expected, especially between sunset and dinnertime, which is the prime time for advertisements and TV series," he told Al-Shorfa.
The second half of Ramadan will be "a real battlefield" as advertisers compete to secure the primetime slots, he said, as by then the World Cup will be over.
On the other hand, Mahmoud al-Shafei, head of advertising at a privately owned satellite channel, told Al-Shorfa this year's advertising market will not be affected by any external factors.
"This season's advertising market has gone back to normal after a lull over the past two years and is expected to generate 1.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($168 million)," he said.
Production costs also have risen due to a rise in actors' salaries and the cost of studio rentals and stage sets, which will influence the cost of ads in general, al-Shafei said.
There are 30 television series airing this season at a cost of around one billion Egyptian pounds ($140 million), said Dalal Hamza, who develops programmes for the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.
Of these, Adel Imam's "Sahib al-Saada" and "Saraya Abdeen" were the most costly to produce, she told Al-Shorfa.
Actors' pay has risen to a collective 200 million Egyptian pounds ($30 million), she added.
"This season has seen actors' pay spring back to its normal rate after last year's decline, with Adel Imam receiving the highest pay at 35 million pounds ($4.9 million), followed by Tamer Hosni at 25 million pounds ($3.5 million), Ahmed Makki who received 20 million pounds ($2.8 million) and Ghada Abdel Razeq taking home 16 million pounds ($2.2 million)," she said.
Regional actors will be featured onscreen this season, particularly those from Lebanon and Syria, despite previous decisions by the Egyptian Actors Syndicate to give Egyptian actors more opportunities, entertainment journalist Mazen Hussein told Al-Shorfa.
"There is hardly a TV series this year without an Arabic actor or actress such as Gamal Suleiman from Syria in the series 'Sadiq al-Omur', in which he plays the role of the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser, and his compatriots Qusai al-Khawli in 'Saraya Abdeen' and Maxim Khalil in 'Siret al-Hub'," he said.
This year also features an "unprecedented" number of singers playing television roles, from Lebanese singers Myriam Fares, Haifa Wehbe and Nicole Saba to Egyptian singers Mohammed Hamaqi, Tamer Hosni, Saad al-Sughair, Mustafa Qamar and Khaled Salim, he said.