Advanced Television

Study: DTH remains dominant in MENA

April 7, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Satellite reception remains the dominant means of receiving TV despite the uptake of IPTV and streaming services in the MENA region, according to an Arabsat-commissioned study carried out by market research specialists IPSOS.

Moreover, the study found that at least 45 per cent of viewers are less than 30-years-old, which “illustrates the strong sustainable relevance of satellite TV amongst younger TV audiences in MENA,” says IPSOS.

This data runs counter-intuitively to the huge ownership of mobile phones in the region. However, IPSOS says the uptake of SVoD secondary entertainment services continues to remain “relatively minuscule” compared to satellite penetration.

The IPSOS study also re-confirmed that the MENA region has an extremely strong interest in news channels. While ‘general entertainment’ (77 per cent) popularity is no surprise the next most-watched genre was ‘News’ (56 per cent), followed by ‘Religion’ (54 per cent), ‘Music’ (54 per cent’) and ‘Sport’ (48 per cent) which tied to ‘Documentary’ (48 per cent).

The study found that only 8 per cent of MENA viewers currently subscribed to pay-TV, although it found that sport was the key driver for pay-TV subscribers.

There are two major satellite TV operators in the region: Arabsat and the Eutelsat/Nilesat combination. The IPSOS study found that 77 per cent of respondents were aware of Arabsat and 60 million MENA homes had Arabsat as their satellite TV provider. This number rose to 88 per cent of Gulf Co-operation Council region viewers (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Qatar). This suggests that Egypt (and not a GCC member) remains reasonably loyal to Nilesat/Eutelsat.

Arabsat, based in Saudi Arabia, dominates viewer loyalty at more than 90 per cent of the total satellite viewership. In the Levant region, as well as Iraq and Iran, some 77 per cent of homes have access to Arabsat. Arabsat remans dominant in Lebanon, with 78 per cent of satellte TV households.

Arabsat also garners some strong audience figures beyond the conventional Arab regions. In Djibouti, it enjoys 98 per cent viewing and serves 34 per cent of Djibouti exclusively. It is similar in Mauritania (91 per cent, and 30 per cent exclusive).

The MENA region has not been massively enthusiastic for HD content – nor UHD. That is slowly changing, and the IPSOS study shows that 75 per cent of all TV sets are now flat-screen with 58 per cent either HD or UHD. Some 36 per cent of homes own ‘smart’ TV.

Arabsat supplies 230 HD channels and 50 per cent of Arabsat’s 26 degrees East ‘hot spot’ channels are either HD or UHD.

The IPSOS study was carried out in 22 countries and its sample size comprised 24,558 interviews


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