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Content exclusivity key to pay TV growth in ME

MUMBAI: Legitimate pay TV operators in the Middle East and North Africa are increasingly relying on exclusive content rights to gain subscribers, according to a new report from Digital TV Research.

This is especially true for satellite TV platforms such as beIN and OSN. Dipping into the deep pockets of its owners, beIN in particular has been successful in building its subscriber base in a short period of time.

Digital TV Middle East & North Africa Forecasts report author Simon Murray said: “Gaining subscribers in the Mena is no mean feat as piracy remains rampant in most countries. More than half of the region’s homes receive free-to-air satellite TV signals. Furthermore, established pay TV operators now have to compete against new platforms as several IPTV operators put greater emphasis on SVOD than on traditional linear channel packages.”

Despite these hurdles, the number of pay TV homes across the 20 countries covered in the report will double between 2010 and 2021 to 20.9 million, with Turkey accounting for 37% of the 2021 total. From the 5.40 million pay TV homes to be added between 2015 and 2021, 1.98 million will come from Turkey, 0.63 million from Uzbekistan and 0.59 million from Egypt.

About a fifth TV households legitimately paid for TV signals by end-2015. This proportion will climb to 24.2 per cent by 2021. Qatar will record 80 per cent pay TV penetration by 2021, with Georgia (69 per cent), Israel (68 per cent) and the UAE (62 per cent) also high. However, pay TV penetration will be below 10 per cent of TV households in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.

Legitimate pay TV revenues will climb by 82% between 2010 and 2021 to $5.02 billion. However, growth will only be 25 per cent between 2015 and 2021. Turkey and Israel are expected to contribute 45 per cent of the region’s pay TV revenues in 2021, down from 52 per cent in 2015 and 63 per cent in 2010.

From the $1.028 billion pay TV revenues to be added between 2015 and 2021, Turkey will supply $206 million, the UAE $141 million and Saudi Arabia $194 million. Revenues in Israel will fall slightly over this period due to greater competition and the conversion of subscribers to bundles (which means lower TV revenues per subscriber).