Frost & Sullivan: Mideast Fertile Ground for OTT

According to Frost & Sullivan, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a fertile market for over-the-top (OTT) video services, thanks ...

Frost & Sullivan: Mideast Fertile Ground for OTT
Frost & Sullivan: Mideast Fertile Ground for OTT

According to Frost & Sullivan, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a fertile market for over-the-top (OTT) video services, thanks to the boom in smartphone and Internet penetration. The research house say the market has an opportunity to grow to 265 million viewers by 2020. In addition to government support for Internet ubiquity and large-scale digital transformation, the presence of a large, young population that is well acquainted with mobile technology is attracting significant investments to the market.

"Competition is heating up in the market as key participants are figuring out the best-fit revenue models," said Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Research Analyst Aafia Bathool. Research Director Vidya S Nath added, "Currently there are 75 million viewers with only 2.3 million paying subscribers throughout the region, indicating a slow conversion of registered to paid viewers. However, this could potentially grow to 20 million by 2020."

Frost & Sullivan believes that alliances among stakeholders, a mix of local and international content, competitive pricing, and a user-friendly interface will all go a long way in increasing service adoption and accelerating market growth. With international players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video having a regional footprint, the onus is on local players such as STARZ Play, beIN Sports Connect, MBC Shahid, OSN GO, icflix, and others to formulate content strategies to consolidate their position in the market.

While overall Internet penetration levels have rocketed, the lack of uniformity in broadband availability hinders the provision of OTT services to various countries that have a large installed base of legacy technology. Also, viewers are accustomed to free-to-air (FTA) channels and pirated online videos due to the lack of a regulatory framework. The consequent sluggish uptake of paid subscriptions has slowed the return on investment on OTT services.

The customer experience and user interface in the MENA OTT market needs to be richer and more user friendly to win more subscribers, Frost & Sullivan says. OTT companies can overcome these shortcomings by adopting methods for personalization and customization, and employing analytical tools. In its current stage of evolution, OTT is heavily reliant on TV for advertising and content. Service providers that develop a hybrid model that combines TV and OTT will entrench themselves in the market.

"The escalating demand from a tech-savvy population for quality international and exclusive Arabic content is encouraging OTT video service providers to stream videos and other big-ticket events, such as live sports, online," said Bathool. "The pricing, data analytics and video quality will determine the OTT market leader in the next five years."

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