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Pay TV subscribers in MENA climbing despite piracy

MUMBAI: The number of pay TV homes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will double between 2010 and 2020 to 21.3 million, according to a new 208-page report from Digital TV Research. The report adds that Turkey will account for 37 per cent of the 2020 total.

According to the fourth edition of ‘Digital TV Middle East and North Africa Forecasts’, 18 per cent of TV households legitimately paid for TV signals by end-2014. This proportion will climb to 24 per cent by 2020.

Qatar will record 72 per cent pay TV penetration by 2020, with Israel (71 per cent) also high. However, pay TV penetration will be below 10 per cent of TV households in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.

Legitimate pay TV revenues for the 20 countries covered in the report will grow by 75 per cent between 2010 and 2020 to $5.63 billion. Turkey and Israel are expected to contribute 51 per cent of the region’s pay TV revenues in 2020, down from 61 per cent in 2014.

Satellite TV will continue to dominate pay TV revenues, taking two-thirds of the 2020 total (similar to the 2014 proportion). Satellite TV revenues will be $3.76 billion in 2020. Turkey will account for $1,572 million of these revenues, followed by Saudi Arabia with $674 million. Saudi Arabia will take second place from Israel in 2015.

Pay satellite TV penetration will climb from 6.9 per cent in 2010 to 11.8 per cent in 2020, with subscriber numbers doubling from 5.01 million to 10.32 million. Of the 10.32 million total in 2020, Turkey will contribute 5.32 million and Saudi Arabia 1.24 million. Penetration in 2020 will reach 37 per cent in Qatar, but will be less than 5 per cent in 10 other countries.

Digital TV Research principal analyst Simon Murray said, “Pay satellite TV has grown due mainly to the expansion of OSN and beIN Sports. We estimate that OSN had 1,162,000 residential satellite subscribers [excluding non-residential satellite subscribers and subscribers to non-satellite platforms] at end-2014, with beIN Sports providing a further 819,000.”

He however cautioned, “Piracy remains a major problem, despite many efforts to eradicate it. There are 34.3 million free-to-air satellite TV homes in the Middle East and North Africa sub-regions [excluding Israel, Turkey and Eurasia]. We estimate that at least 10 per cent of these homes also receive pirated premium satellite TV signals. This represents considerable revenue loss to the legitimate players.”

There will be 6.16 million legitimate IPTV subs across the whole region by 2020, triple the 2014 total. Turkey (1,631,000 subscribers – 5 times as many as 2014) will be the IPTV subscriber leader in 2020. However, Qatar (35 per cent) will lead in penetration terms by 2020. IPTV revenues will grow tenfold between 2010 and 2020 to $1,071 million.