Pay TV Booming in the Middle East

According to a new report from IHS (NYSE:IHS), 2015 was the year of growth for the pay TV market in the Middle East and North Africa ...

Report: TV Time Peaked in the UK, France in 2016
Report: TV Time Peaked in the UK, France in 2016
According to a new report from IHS (NYSE:IHS), 2015 was the year of growth for the pay TV market in the Middle East and North Africa region. The report says the number of pay TV households jumped 10% in 2015 to 4.95 million. In the 13 countries covered by the annual report, revenues from pay TV passed the billion-euro mark for the first time.

Revenues from primary households' subscriptions grew 37%, from €852 million in 2014 to €1.17 billion in 2015.

"Pay TV in the Middle East and North Africa region is growing rapidly and faster than any other region we analyse," said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst, IHS Technology.

IHS forecasts that pay TV subscribers will increase to 6.54 million by the end of 2020, up 32% on the end of 2015 and representing a CAGR of 6% over the five-year period.

IHS expects that the positive drive of the pay TV market will continue persistently for the next five years, with revenues almost doubling to just over €2 billion in that time frame. The growth is expected to stem from the enhanced level of competition between the major operators, the introduction of TV audience ratings systems in the Gulf States, the expansion of fiber networks, which facilitate the offering of premium pay TV services, and the growth of the SVOD OTT services.

The opening of the Iranian TV market, a largely untapped market for pay TV business, is providing opportunities for regional operators. According to local data sources, 71% of TV households in Tehran are equipped with a satellite dish. But there are still barriers to be surpassed.

"The online-video market is very nascent," Papavassilopoulos said. "IHS put broadband penetration at 56% of households at the end 2015. However, due to the Iranian government policy of regulating access to the Internet for its citizens, broadband speeds are lower than in neighboring Arab states. Content will also have to be carefully chosen to appeal to the Iranian audience. Simply repurposing content that was made for wider Arabic audiences will not work for Iran."

There is optimism both inside Iran and internationally that the lifting of sanctions will put added pressure on the government to relieve some of these restrictions. IHS forecasts that TV advertising revenues can grow from $275 million in 2015 to $627 million in 2020 if the normalization of trade between Iran and the rest of the world continues.

"The TV market would benefit hugely," Papavassilopoulos said. "Our forecast figures would represent a healthy CAGR of 18%."

Countries included in the study are Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE.

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