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MENA pay-TV revenue to shrink by end of decade

A new report predicts a $1.6 billion revenue plunge by 2029

MENA pay-TV revenue to shrink by end of decade
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The curtains are closing on traditional pay-TV as viewers increasingly opt for on-demand, flexible alternatives. A new report by Digital TV Research predicts a $1.6 billion revenue plunge by 2029 in pay-TV due to the rise of over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms and the persistent problem of piracy.

The report Middle East and North Africa Pay TV Forecasts shows revenues are expected to plummet 43% to $2.2 billion by the decade’s end. 

This follows a 14% decline to $2.74 billion between 2016 and 2020, highlighting a rapid exodus of viewers from traditional pay-TV packages to the world of on-demand streaming.

“Legitimate pay-TV penetration has always been low in most MENA countries, but the decline is accelerating as pay-TV subscribers convert to OTT platforms,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

The forecast expects the downward spiral to continue, with revenues dipping further to $2.52 billion by 2026, a 23% drop from 2016. By then, five countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel – will hold 78% of the region’s pay-TV pie, leaving the rest fighting for scraps.

“There are few winners in this game,” Murray adds. “Eight of the 20 countries will lose revenues between 2020 and 2026.

Despite an anticipated increase in pay-TV subscribers, expected to surge by 3 million between 2023 and 2029, reaching 18 million, the report suggested that 13 of the 20 countries are poised to experience revenue losses.

Pay-TV revenue in the UAE will be $270 million in 2029, with Saudi Arabia at $192 million. Other Arabic-speaking countries combined will total $302 million, while the remaining MENA countries will see a combined total of $216 million.

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