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Middle-East pay-TV boom

IHS, the market analysis specialist, has published key findings from its annual Middle East & North Africa Pay TV Market Monitor report. The report found that 2014 was another year of substantial growth for the pay-TV market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with pay-TV revenues jumping from €702 million in 2013 to €873 million in 2014.

While most households continue to rely predominantly on free satellite TV, the total primary pay-TV households rose to 4.8 million from 4.3 million in 2013, a year-on-year increase of 12.4 per cent.

“This is the largest increase in revenue globally,” said report author Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst at IHS Technology. “The MENA region represents huge opportunities for investors. If we look at the demographics alone, over 60 per cent of the population is under 35, they are media-literate and have developed international tastes in TV content.”

IHS forecasts that between 2015 and 2019, the MENA region will grow five times higher than the rate of the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy.

High growth prospects based on a few main characteristics

Major factors in growth for 2014 were: the successful anti-piracy measures, the high quality pay-TV offerings, the investment in local (Arabic) content and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals.

“As we look forward, we see that the region has a strong anti-piracy stance and excellent communication infrastructure that will facilitate the expansion of pay TV networks and the offering of premium pay-TV,” Papavassilopoulos said.

The threat of piracy has been considerably curbed recently in the region after the successful cooperation of major broadcasters, pay-TV operators, satellite operators and online content providers with the authorities in the Gulf States and in countries like Egypt and Jordan. Additionally, the pay-TV business in the region is experiencing a consolidation process (mergers & acquisitions, carriage deals) which is creating entities with stronger finances, more robust business plans and more efficient exploitation of local talent and resources.
IHS expects positive growth in the pay-TV market to continue, with primary pay-TV households reaching 6.6 million and revenues €1.7 billion in 2019.

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