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Analyst: Record growth for MENA pay-TV

The pay-TV market in the Middle East and North Africa saw record growth in 2016 despite harsh economic conditions, according to new analysis released by critical information, analytics and solutions source IHS Markit.

Pay-TV households topped the five million mark for the first time in the region’s history, growing 8 per cent year-on-year. Revenues rose 15 per cent to $2.27 billion (€2.14bn), double digit growth year-on-year.

“The Middle East and North Africa region is one of the fastest growing regions for pay-TV, in both subscriber numbers and revenues,” said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst at IHS Markit. “The launch of services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime is fuelling the market and is a good sign for further growth.”

IHS Markit expects that growth will continue, with pay-TV homes reaching seven million in 2021. Revenues will almost double to $4.03 billion in 2021.

Two satellite operators, beIN Media Group and OSN, dominate the market controlling over 60 per cent of subscribers and over 55 per cent of revenues for the last seven years. 2016 marks the first full year that beIN Media Group and OSN competed directly against each other.

Subscription services will drive growth

Total online video market revenues in the Middle East and North Africa region stood at $500 million in 2016, a year-on-year growth of 51 per cent from 2015.

Advertising remains the most successful business model for monetising online video – representing over 65 per cent of total revenue in 2016. “The prevalence of advertising is corroborated by YouTube’s huge appeal in the region,” Papavassilopoulos said. “Countries such as Saudi Arabia are second only to the US in terms of time spent per person watching videos on YouTube.”

However, IHS Markit forecasts that the subscription business model will gain ground in the Middle East and North Africa region at the expense of advertising, with almost half of total online video revenues coming from online subscription services by 2020.

Going forward, subscription video will drive revenue growth. “Subscription services in the region saw 137 per cent growth in 2016, spurred by the launch of Netflix and strong performance from local players,” Papavassilopoulos said. Subscription accounted for over 30 per cent of the total online video market in 2016, and is expected to contribute 45 per cent of total market revenues by 2020.

IHS Markit expects total online video revenues to grow by more than $1.5 billion by 2020.

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