MENA pay-TV sector set for rocky ride as revenues fall: study | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Pay-TV revenues across 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) fell by 11% between 2016 and 2018, and are set to fall lower still, according to a new study.
DigTVres MENApayTV 21Jan2019
The ongoing ban on Qatar’s beIN Media by Saudi Arabia, along with falling ARPUs, will see overall pay-TV revenues in the region fall from US$3.36 billion in 2016 to $3.28 billion in 2024, said analysts at Digital TV Research.

The study, which includes Turkey and Israel as well as countries from the Arab world, found that by 2024, five nations would contribute 78% of MENA’s pay-TV revenues.

Turkey and Israel together will earn nearly half of the region’s total pay-TV revenues in 2024, followed by Saudi Arabia with US$417 million, UAE with $398 million, and Egypt with $161 million.

In the 13 Arabic-speaking countries studied, pay-TV revenues fell by 16% from $1.254 billion in 2016 to $1.059 billion in 2018. However, researchers expect this total will recover to reach $1.432 billion by 2024. Pay-TV subscriptions in the Arab world fell by 9.5% to 3.4 million between 2016 and 2018, but will rise to 5.23 million by 2024 said the report.

“Pay-TV in the MENA region has been hit by a Saudi-led ban on the sale of Qatar-backed beIN decoders and subscriptions since mid-2017,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

“The ban has been compounded by BeoutQ, an illegal platform that retransmits some of beIN’s content especially its exclusive sports rights. The region is no stranger to piracy, but the sophistication of the BeoutQ operation is beyond anything seen before. **beIN is fiercely protesting BeoutQ , with the support of major content owners, especially sports federations. We believe that the situation will be resolved in 2019, given the international pressure to drop the ban and to close BeoutQ,” added Murray.

beIN lost 464,000 subscribers, or 47% of its subscriptions base, in the two years to December 2018, reducing its total to 525,000. A recovery to improve on 2016 levels is not expected until 2021, though by 2024 beIN is forecast have 1.4 million subscribers across MENA.

Meanwhile, competition from over-the-top (OTT) platforms is adversely affecting the traditional pay-TV sector in the region’s largest markets, Israel and Turkey.
Israel is set to lose 10% of subscribers to pay-TV platforms in the decade to 2024. Consequently, pay-TV revenues in Israel will fall by a third to $675 million in 2024 from more than $1 billion in 2015, said the study.

Greater competition in the Turkish market will also reduce revenues in the traditional pay-TV sector. Digital TV Research expects $910 million will be collected in pay-TV revenues in 2024; less than the total in 2016. This is despite a rise in the sector’s subscriber base from 7.15 million in 2018 to 9.01 million by 2024. Analysts forecast that Turk Telecom will become the region’s largest pay-TV operator in terms of subscriber numbers by 2020.