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Growth predicted for pay TV market

The pay television market in the Middle East and North Africa will grow by 47% over the next five years, according to new research.

The pay television market in the Middle East and North Africa will grow by 47% over the next five years, according to new research.

The report by Informa Telecoms and Media claims that the number of pay TV subscribers will rise from 5.3 million from the end of 2005 to 7.7 million by 2011.

Of the region’s 53.8 million TV homes, 30.7 million have a multichannel TV service — which is equivalent to a 57% penetration rate. Informa predicts that this figure will rise to 40 million by 2011, giving a 65% penetration rate.

Adam Thomas, Informa’s media research manager and author of the report, said: “The region’s broadcast sector continues to exhibit encouraging signs. Several countries are looking towards market liberalisation and the TV sector is benefiting from this. Both Showtime Arabia and Al Jazeera are considering an IPO, so potentially giving investors access to two of the region’s high-profile TV brands.”

Pay TV subscriber rates in the Levant are expected to rise from 162,000 from the end of last year to 234,000 by 2011. In the Gulf states Informa predicts that there will be 1.1 million pay TV subscribers in five years’ time, up from 791,000 in 2005.

The study claims that other positive factors likely to drive growth are the common language, positive demographics weighted towards young adults, high rates of TV consumption and the region’s relative wealth driven by oil.

However, the disparity in disposable incomes of a wealthy minority and the rest of the population means pay TV operators can only target a small proportion of people, which will inhibit greater growth, the report claims.

“New private terrestrial channels are not launching in sufficient numbers to provide adequate competition to the lacklustre state-owned networks. While this remains the situation, the market will fail to meet its full potential,” Thomas said.

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