Analyst: beIN dispute hits MENA pay-TV subs

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Pay-TV revenues for 20 MENA countries fell by 11 per cent between 2016 and 2018 to just under $3 billion (€2.64bn), according to analyst firm Digital TV Research. Given the hangover from the beIN ban and falling ARPUs, revenues in 2024 ($3.28 billion) will still be lower than in 2016 ($3.36 billion).

Five countries will contribute 78 per cent of the region’s pay-TV revenues in 2024. Turkey and Israel together will supply nearly half the pay-TV revenues in 2024.

Concentrating just on the 13 Arabic-speaking countries, pay-TV revenues fell by 16 per cent from $1,254 million in 2016 to $1,059 million in 2018. The total will recover to reach $1,432 million by 2024. Pay-TV subscriptions fell by 9.5 per cent between 2016 and 2018 to 3.40 million, but will progress to 5.23 million by 2024.

“Pay-TV in the MENA region has been hit by a Saudi-led ban on the sale of Qatar-backed beIN decoders and subscriptions since mid-2017,” explained Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research.

“The ban has been compounded by BeoutQ, an illegal platform that retransmits some of beIN’s content especially its exclusive sports rights,” he added. “The region is no stranger to piracy, but the sophistication of the BeoutQ operation is beyond anything seen before. beIN is fiercely protesting BeoutQ, with the support of major content owners, especially sports federations. We believe that the situation will be resolved in 2019; given the international pressure to drop the ban and to close BeoutQ.”

beIN lost 464,000 subscribers – or 47 per cent of its subs base – in the two years to end-2018 to take its total down to 525,000. The 2016 total is unlikely to be bettered until 2021. beIN is forecast have 1.40 million subscribers by 2024.

Pay-TV turmoil is not confined to the Arab world. OTT platforms provide considerable competition to the traditional pay-TV sector in the region’s largest markets: Israel and Turkey.

Israel will lose 10 per cent of its pay-TV subs between 2014 to 2024. Israeli pay-TV revenues will fall from more than $1 billion in 2015 to $675 million in 2024 – down by a third.

The Turkish pay-TV market has been shaken up by greater competition. Turkish pay-TV revenues will reach $910 million in 2024; lower than the 2016 total. However, the number of pay-TV subscribers will grow from 7.15 million in 2018 to 9.01 million in 2024. Turk Telekom will become the region’s largest operator by subscriber numbers in 2020.


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