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Pay TV now reaches 4.35 million subscribers in MENA

The pay TV market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) grew rapidly in 2013, reaching 4.35 million subscribers at the end of the year, up more than 14% year-on-year, according to IHS.

The research firm’s annual Middle East Media Market Monitor claims that 9.4% of households in the MENA region now subscribe to a pay TV service following on from strong growth in eight of the last 10 years.

IHS attributed gains in 2013 to “an impressive rise in satellite operator OSN’s customers,” adding that high IPTV uptake “contributed equally to last year’s pay TV growth.

“Last year was the third in a row and the eighth since 2004 where pay TV penetration rates grew. We expect those numbers to grow in the years ahead,” said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst at IHS Technology.

Between 2004 and 2013, IHS said that the number of primary pay TV subscribers almost quadrupled from 1.33 million in 2004 to 4.35 million in 2013, growing at an annual average rate of 14.64%.

Last year alone, subscriber numbers grew by 14.13%, while the pay TV market in terms of market share grew by 11.2%.

The Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain accounted for 66% of pay TV households, though the research noted that “there are huge disparities in the uptake of pay TV services across the region” – the penetration rate was 85% in the UAE and just 2.4% in Egypt.

IHS said that, as a pay TV platform, satellite remained dominant in the MENA region and that “BeIN Sports Arabia and OSN are forming a virtual duopoly in MENA’s satellite pay TV market.”