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Mena pay TV hits landmark subs number

The Middle East and North African pay TV market experienced “rapid growth” last year, with the number of pay TV households passing five million for the first time.

This is according to new research by IHS Markit, which said that the number of pay TV households in the MENA region grew by 8% year-on-year in 2016, despite “harsh economic conditions”.

Pay TV revenues grew 15% year-on-year to US$2.27 billion in 2016, according to the research. IHS tipped this to almost double to US$4.03 billion in 2021 as the total number of pay TV homes grows to seven million.

While beIN Media Group and OSN together account for more than 60% of pay TV subscribers and 55% of revenues, online subscription video services were also highlighted as a growing business area.

The MENA online video market grew 51% year-on-year in 2016, generating US$500 million in revenues, according to IHS. While advertising accounted for 65% of these revenues – thanks in large part to YouTube’s popularity in the region  – SVOD is expected to account for half of online video revenues by 2020.

“Subscription services in the region saw 137% growth in 2016, spurred by the launch of Netflix and strong performance from local players,” said IHS Markit senior analyst, Constantinos Papavassilopoulos.

He added that: “Countries such as Saudi Arabia are second only to the US in terms of time spent per person watching videos on YouTube.”

Overall, IHS expects total online video revenues to grow by more than US$1.5 billion by 2020.