The pay TV market in the Middle East and North Africa will grow by 36% over the next five years, according to new research in the fourth edition of Informa Telecoms & Media's Middle East and Africa TV report, writes Andy Stout.
The report shows that the region's 4.5 million pay TV subscribers at end-2006 will grow to 6.1 million in 2012. Much of the growth will come from Israel and Turkey, who will account for 4.2 million pay TV homes between them at end-2012. The Informa research also discovered that, of the region's 54.8 million TV homes, 30.5 million have a multichannel TV service - giving a 55.5% penetration rate. By 2012, that number will approach 40 million, giving 62.3% penetration.
Adam Thomas, Informa's media research manager and author of the report, said: "The MENA TV sector is starting to benefit from market liberalisation, improving sophistication in technology and content and some signs of a more receptive stance towards foreign investment."
The report identifies several other positive factors for the region, including: a common language and culture for much of MENA, media-friendly demographics weighted towards young adults, a tradition of high rates of TV consumption and the area's relative wealth - driven by oil revenues.
But there are several factors inhibiting even greater growth - such as the disparity, across much of the region, between the disposable income of a wealthy minority and the rest of the population. As a consequence pay TV operators are often restricted to targeting only a relatively small proportion of wealthy locals, while also catering for a sizeable expatriate community.
According to Thomas: "In recent years we've seen the pay TV companies cutting their prices to bring in subscriber numbers. This has successfully added customers at the lower end, but further discounts are not viable, meaning they will have much more difficulty attracting subscribers from now on."
The 220-page report Middle East & Africa TV (4th Edition) is published by Informa Telecoms & Media. It analyses the region's 16 leading MENA markets - as well as developments across Sub-Saharan Africa. Informa produces several media business publications, including Television Business International, New Media Markets and TV International.