Why TV still remains king of the home in the Arab world

* While the advent of the Internet has taken the media by storm, TV still remains king of the home.

* More or less, TV content consumption has remained stable while the consumption of digital media has grown exponentially.

Many more TV and Over the Top (OTT) trends have been identified in the 5th edition of Arab Media Outlook 2016-2018, launched by Dubai Media City and Dubai Press Club, as described below:

TV: King of the Home

Globally digital video has grown rapidly, but TV viewing has remained stable. While video viewing has increased by almost 15 per cent since 2010, the growth has not impacted TV viewing. In the UAE, 31 per cent of total media consumption was attributed to TV viewing in 2015, thus re-enforcing the reach of TV viewing.



Snackable Content

The main reason for the shift towards digital video is the presence of easy to watch, quick bites of content which include viral videos, music videos, movie trailers and user generated content which can be viewed while on a break or commuting etc.

These videos usually range from 10 to 30 second clips, tweets, Instagram updates etc. Such kind of content is termed as ‘short form’ that is short and easily viewable as opposed to the ‘long form’ articles or documentaries.

There are many reasons why such content is on a rise- decreasing attention span, high mobile broadband penetration, smartphones and social media. It is noteworthy that consumers are consuming both, TV content as well as digital content.

Connected TVs

Nowadays, multi-screen behavior is observed in consumers wherein they can seamlessly access TV anytime, anywhere and be able to port content across devices. TVs are native to a wider demographic in terms of behavior.

While the family watches the TV together, there are smart phones in hand to watch preferred content whenever one wants. Such multi-screening presents both, an opportunity as well as a challenge.

In the Middle East, penetration of Smart TVs is expected to grow at a CAGR 2012-2017 of 55.5 per cent while streaming devices will grow at a rate of 219 per cent yearly from 2012 to 2017.

Free to Air (FTA)

In the MENA region, there are more than 50 million TV households that has access to more than 900 channels that are broadcasted as Free-to-air. In the past decade, the number of FTA channels have grown by 150 per cent in the region.

In the UAE, due to the expat population there is a consumption of Pan Asian and Arab content. There are a handful of FTA providers in the GCC, with Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) dominating the share. Other broadcasters include Al Jazeera Group, Abu Dhabi Media, SDTV etc. These channels rely heavily on advertising revenues. In case of MBC, they get 85% to 90% of their revenue from advertising and sponsorship.

Choice of programmes

Advertisers obviously flock to those channels and programs that are most viewed. Wholesome family fare is what interests everyone in the TV landscape. Apart from that, there is also a huge demand for American as well as Egyptian movies.

60 per cent of audiences look for movies and general interest channels. It is important to note that the reason there is an interest in family fare and movies because of the socio-cultural reason. In the Arab culture, family unit is extremely important and therefore prime time is family time. During Ramadan, FTA broadcasters air family dramas, which makes up for 59 per cent of TV content aired during that month.




Pay TV

As opposed to FTA, Pay TV is another trend that is growing rapidly in the GCC. Although the region has been mostly FTA market, Pay TV is penetrating the market. While KSA remains the largest market for Pay TV, UAE is the second.

Together these countries make up for 64 per cent of the Pay TV market share. The Pay TV market is mainly dominated by OSN with 29 per cent market share and BelN 42 per cent. When it comes to content, Arabic content is not much sought after as it is available on FTA too. Original content is in demand with English, sports and ethnic content dominating the markets.

Over the Top (OTT) Content

The content move over the Internet via multi-system operators, ISPs, Video on Demand or Pay TV providers, thus giving rise to new rules with respect to distribution, control and monetization.

OTT is driven due to many factors such as youth led, digital first generations, better connectivity accessible on consoles, smartphones, connected TVs etc. and lastly value for money in comparison to Pay TV.


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