Pay-TV revenues in the MENA region are projected to decline, due to the growing popularity of OTT services and piracy issues

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A recent report by Digital TV Research has forecasted a substantial decline of $1.6 billion in pay-TV revenues across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by 2029. This 43% drop, amounting to $2.2 billion, is attributed to the rising popularity of over-the-top (OTT) media services and the persistent issue of piracy in the region.

Principal analyst Simon Murray noted that legitimate pay-TV penetration has historically been low in many MENA countries. However, the decline is now accelerating as subscribers increasingly shift to OTT platforms. Between 2016 and 2020, pay-TV revenues in the region declined by 14% to $2.74 billion. The forecast suggests a continued slow decline, reaching $2.52 billion in 2026, representing a 23% fall compared to 2016.

Murray highlighted that by 2026, five countries—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Turkiye, and Israel—will contribute 78% of the region’s pay-TV revenues. However, he noted that only a few countries will emerge as winners, with eight out of the 20 countries projected to experience revenue losses between 2020 and 2026.

Despite an expected increase in pay-TV subscribers, set to rise by 3 million between 2023 and 2029, reaching a total of 18 million, the report predicts that 13 out of the 20 countries will face revenue losses. Turkiye and Israel are anticipated to contribute nearly half of the total pay-TV revenues for 2029, with Turkish revenues reaching $707 million and Israeli revenues dropping to $376 million.

In 2029, pay-TV revenue in the UAE is projected to be $270 million, followed by Saudi Arabia at $192 million and Kazakhstan at $142 million. Combined pay-TV revenue in other Arabic-speaking countries is estimated at $302 million, while the remaining MENA countries are expected to see a combined total of $216 million in pay-TV revenues.

The findings of this report indicate a significant shift in the MENA region’s media consumption landscape, with OTT services and piracy posing challenges to the traditional pay-TV model. As the industry navigates these changes, stakeholders will need to adapt their strategies to remain competitive in this evolving market.

(Source: Arab News | Digital TV Research)

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