Pay-TV revenues for the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region fell by 12 per cent between 2016 and 2019 to just under $3 billion (€2.7bn). Given the hangover from the beIN ban in Saudi Arabia and generally falling ARPUs, revenues in 2025 ($2.81 billion) will still be lower than in 2019, according to Digital TV Research.
For the 13 Arabic-speaking countries, pay-TV revenues fell by 15 per cent from $1,241 million in 2016 to $1.05 billion in 2019. However, the total will recover to reach $1.26 billion by 2025. Pay-TV subscriptions fell by 5 per cent between 2016 and 2019 to 3.58 million, but will progress to 4.71 million by 2025.
Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “The ongoing ‘ban’ on beIN … is adversely affecting the whole sector. Even when the ban is lifted, we believe that an unofficial ban will remain. As beIN suffers, it is reducing its expenditure on top events – thus making it less attractive to potential subscribers.”
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the region to ban beIN officially. However, beIN’s business in other countries has been adversely affected by the continued existence of beOutQ and piracy.
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 has the dubious honor of experiencing some of the worst cord-cutting outside the US. Israel will lose 24 per cent of its pay TV subs between 2015 to 2025. Digital TV Research forecasts that Israel’s pay-TV revenues will halve from more than $1 billion in 2015 to $524 million in 2025. These figures are for traditional pay-TV. Israel’s OTT sector will grow significantly.
The Turkish pay-TV market has been shaken by greater competition. Turkish pay-TV revenues will reach $761 million in 2025; 16 per cent lower than the peak year of 2016. However, the number of pay-TV subscribers will grow from 7.17 million in 2019 to 7.87 million in 2025.