Advanced Television

Yahsat: ‘HD is the new standard in Gulf’

November 19, 2012

By Chris Forrester

Yahsat is supplying an all-HDTV service by satellite over the Middle East. Its CEO, Mohamed Youssif, told the BroadcastPro summit in Dubai that HDTV was the new TV standard and fast gaining acceptance in the Middle East. Yahsat is now transmitting more than 40 HDTV channels.

“Television technology rolls in twenty year cycles.  Two decades ago we witnessed the birth of digital broadcasting and the subsequent explosion in television channels across the region.  Now we are seeing the rapid emergence of the next generation of technology and that is High Definition,” said Youssif.

Joining a panel discussion on establishing a sustainable business model for Middle East television, he added:  “The MENA market has a strong appetite for content choice and a quality viewing experience.  Standard definition broadcast channels will lose viewers to those which offer an immersive, ‘being there’ experience in High Definition.

“HD is becoming the ‘new normal’ for TV channels across the region and consumer demand is driving broadcasters to convert to High Definition.  The benefit of YahLive is that we offer a platform exclusively for HD channels which television households across the MENA region can access simply by installing a satellite dish at 52.5 degrees East.”

Presently there are about 650 channels broadcasting to the MENA region with the vast majority being Free To Air. However, in response to the increasing demand for HD, broadcasters will need to upgrade their production and play out broadcast centres to deliver HD content, which is a costly process.

“We believe the future direction of the regional television market will be driven by the willingness of consumers to pay a modest price for content and quality.  As capacity constraints become a challenge for broadcasters, and with advertisers unwilling to pay for a premium for HD advertising, broadcasters will be forced to find alternative revenue streams.  Those that make the transition to HD will be the winners,” Youssif added.

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