A new forecast by Digital TV Research predicts that Pay TV revenues across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will fall to $2.39B by 2027. The figure represents a 38% drop from 2016 revenues – the peak year for the region – of $3.84B. Across the 13 MENA Arab countries, Pay TV revenues will be $915 million by 2027 – a 58% fall from 2016 – and Pay TV subscribers will shrink from 3.7 million to 3.14 million.
Pay TV revenues are also expected to diminish across non-Arab countries. In Turkey, revenues will decrease by $118 million over the same period, falling to $722 million. Despite declining revenues, Digital TV Research expects Pay TV subscribers to actually increase in the country to reach 8.25 million in 2027 (up from 5.92 million) – this means subscribers to Pay TV services will be paying less. From 2014 to 2027, Pay TV revenues in Israel will drop from $1.15 billion to $437 million, and 46% of Pay TV subs will be lost.
In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Pay TV revenues will be $252 million and $277 million respectively by 2027. Aside from the 13 Arab countries, Israel and Turkey, Digital TV Research has also included Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan in its forecast for the MENA region.
Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Pay TV has never had an easy ride in the MENA region. First was the battle with widespread piracy. Next the Saudi government and others banned beIN for four years. Traditional Pay TV subscribers are now converting to SVOD platforms.”
SVOD growth in the region continues to be impressive. Another forecast by Digital TV Research predicts that from the end-2020 to 2026, SVOD subs will more than double to reach 32.65 million. Turkey will continue to have the most SVOD subscribers in MENA region in 2026, with nearly 14 million subs forecast. Arab countries will contribute 15 million streaming subs to the MENA figure, up from 8.61 million in 2021.
Netflix will continues to be the leading streaming service across the Arab world, and is predicted to achieve 5.4 million subscribers by 2026, followed by OSN and StarzPlay who will have 2.5 million and 2.21 million respectively. Murray notes that although Arab SVOD subscribers will grow substantially, the prospects for Arabic-language SVODs do not look positive. He says, “There are just too many Arabic platforms. We do not believe that the market can sustain this many Arabic platforms as few of them offer much original or exclusive content.” Shahid VIP – one of the largest Arabic SVODs – will experience slower growth than its other major D2C competitors, including Netflix, Apple TV, OSN and Amazon Prime Video.
Across the whole of the MENA region, Netllix and Disney+ are set to be dominant. Murray said: “Netflix and Disney+ will account for about half of the region’s total by 2026, despite Disney+ only starting in 2022 in a limited number of countries. Due to exclusive deals with Disney+, HBO and Paramount+, OSN will quickly gain subscribers.”