Analyst: MENA SVoD market set for growth

While the SVoD market only currently stands at around 25 per cent of the pay-TV market in MENA, this is set to increase to more than 50 per cent by 2020 according to a study by information, insight and analytics specialist IHS Markit.

A booming industry full of hope and expectations, the OTT market is on a dynamic growth, and Starz Play – which has just celebrated its landmark third anniversary – is leading the way with 26 per cent of market share compared to Netflix at 16 per cent and ICFLIX at 11 per cent. Starz Play is also number one in the region in terms of revenue, too, holding 28 per cent, followed by Netflix at 21 per cent. Starz Play sees its subscribers split equally between KSA and the rest of the GCC, with 30 per cent of sign-ups coming from the Kingdom.

These growth rates show no sign of slowing down, either, and will continue unabated for the next five years dependent on content, localisation, partnerships and pricing. According to the study by IHS Markit, the CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of online video subscriptions between 2013 and 2022 is predicted to be 64.2 per cent; in comparison, the pay-TV market is estimated to grow at a much lower rate of 6.1 per cent. During this time, OTT subscriptions are expected to rise above 5 million, with international services including Starz Play becoming even more dominant and accounting for roughly half of these total subscriptions.

“We launched Starz Play in April 2015, and since then we have watched it grow from a start-up with an inaugural team of just 15 to an industry-leader employing 100 extremely talented individuals. It is an honour to celebrate our third anniversary with each and every one of the team members,” declared Maaz Sheikh, CEO and Co-Founder of Starz Play. “Not only have we managed to secure investment funds of $125 million during that short time, we have also strengthened our service exponentially with brand new features such as our Download function, formed a wealth of strategic partnerships with major telecommunications providers and developed a world-class technology service across all leading platforms, today boasting more than 10,000 hours of content.”

“Starz Play deserves the leading seat in 2017 in both subscriptions (with 26 per cent share of the market) and revenues (with 28 per cent share of the market) as it had successfully implemented a strategy focusing on partnerships with Telcos and pay-TV operators, on a pricing regime that varied depending on the region, on offering quality local content and content with high relevance to some MENA regions,” advised Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, Principal Research Analyst at IHS Markit. “This policy has paid off as Starz Play subscriptions experienced a staggering growth of rate of 112 per cent between 2015 and 2017.”

As the fastest growing video on demand service in the region, Starz Play has benefitted from being one of the SVoD services to enter the market, as well as its extensive range of deals with Telco including Etisalat, du, Saudi Telecom Group, Ooredoo Group, Orange Jordan, Orange Egypt and Orange Morocco.

This enables Starz Play to provide its service through multiple IPTV systems, and even allow its customers to pay through mobile billing – in a market that has a low penetration of credit cards (a considerable part of the population outside the Gulf doesn’t have a bank account), this plan of action has proven to be a winning formula for the team. Its varying price policy that differs between the Gulf (higher) and the rest of MENA has also contributed to its success, according to the same study.

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