Strong demand for OTT in GCC countries

Consumer demand is increasing for OTT offerings and Internet TV services such as icflix and Netflix in the GCC countries according to research from Irdeto.

The research reveals that 23 per cent of GCC consumers surveyed would prefer to watch TV, movies or sports content through Internet TV services as these services would allow them to watch content on a wider variety of devices (40 per cent in total would prefer to use Internet TV services in the future). As operators and broadcasters in the Middle East continue to evolve quickly to meet consumer demand for modern experiences, the new research underscores significant growth potential for multi-screen and OTT services in the region.

Released ahead of CABSAT 2014, the research was commissioned by Irdeto and conducted by YouGov among a representative sample of 2,700 adults in the GCC countries (KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman). It tackled important questions on current viewing habits, device preferences, future demands and interest in services like Internet TV in the region, as well as examining the barriers to viewing more content.

– The more devices, the better: Multi-screen services are clearly in high demand in the GCC countries. The research revealed that 29 per cent of respondents don’t have a preference for satellite TV or Internet TV in the future, they just want a service that gives them access to their content on any device. This is despite almost three quarters (74 per cent) of consumers saying that they currently watch most content live on a television – this high proportion shows a demand for live content accessibility, highlighting huge opportunities for OTT adoption in the region.

– Make it easy and offer live sports: 29 per cent of respondents said that live sports streaming was the most important feature of a multi-screen service, with markets like Qatar showing the highest demand for live sports streaming (37 per cent). Irdeto’s research also revealed that almost one in five respondents (19 per cent) state a desire for a single account which allows them to access to TV, movies and sport content across multiple devices.
– STBs still dominate, but there is room for new devices: When it comes to the devices on which consumers prefer to watch TV, sports and movies, the research revealed that satellite set-top boxes remain the most popular in the region, for now. Although 45 per cent prefer STBs (rising to 52 per cent in Oman), 25 per cent want to use smart TVs (although this increases to 30 per cent in the UAE) and 11 per cent have stated a desire to view premium content on tablets. There is also a clear gender split when it comes to devices, with satellite set-top boxes much more popular among men (49 per cent) than women (37 per cent), but tablets much more popular among women (17 per cent) than men (8 per cent).

The research also shows that dongles which plug into TVs are yet to take off in the region with only 2 per cent wanting to watch content through these devices. This highlights a potential opportunity for operators to deploy this technology to stay ahead of the competition and to rival other companies such as Google – especially as it can be an easy transition from the traditional set-top box.

– Barriers to content consumption: There are a number of barriers in the GCC countries that are stopping consumers from watching more TV, movie and sport content through their chosen content providers. The main barrier is poor connectivity with 31 per cent saying this is stopping them from watching more content. This is followed by cost (17 per cent) and the lack of availability of the desired content (13 per cent). A lack of availability of content through legitimate channels is an issue, as it increases the risk that pirate sources will be used to acquire the desired content.

“The GCC research we have conducted ahead of CABSAT really underlines the growth of linear pay TV and the huge untapped market potential in the region for OTT services,” said John Illingworth, Sales Director, Middle East, Irdeto. “Broadcasters and operators should continue to focus on compelling multi-screen services and potentially at consolidation of different platforms at competitive prices – early entrants into the OTT market clearly have a receptive audience and it is essential for operators to capitalise on this.”

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