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MENA’s OTT Opportunity and Why 2022 is the Year to Seize It

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Middle East and North Africa (MENA) image

The OTT market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is growing substantially. With over 516 million internet users in the region (higher per capita than global internet penetration), and year-over-year growth between 2.9% and 4.0% through 2026, more and more of the population will be online, according to eMarketer.

Increasing internet users in MENA presents immense opportunities surrounding broadcast and content. Recent research from eMarketer and GWI further breaks down the potential by country in this burgeoning market:

  • In Egypt, digital video has more viewers than live broadcast television with 92.1% of internet users in the country streaming video-on-demand in the first half of 2021. Further, SVoD in Egypt jumped from 46.8% of internet users in 2020 to 57.2% in 2021.
  • In Israel, live broadcast television still sees more of consumers' time spent, but digital video did have substantial growth in 2021. Nearly two in three internet users in Israel said they watched SVoD services in 2021, up from 61.2% in the year prior.
  • In Saudi Arabia, the vast majority (95.5%) of internet users watched digital video in 2021–this is more than the share of internet users that spent time with broadcast TV (91.4%). Furthermore, internet users are streaming video for two hours per day.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, digital video also beat traditional TV with a greater percentage of internet users watching streaming over broadcast–95.4% vs. 86.1% respectively. And more users paid for digital streaming than in years prior.

MENA’s Primed Market

The growth in the MENA region is clear from the research, and it was also evident at CABSAT 2022–one of the world’s biggest events for the global satellite, broadcast, and filmed content industry. Joined by our partner (and this year’s “Growth Accelerator” award winner), MAAS World, the event was attended by thousands of the world’s leading industry figures.

MAAS World specializes in providing complete and customized end-to-end OTT solutions. Their Executive Director, Adeeb Abed, noted that the market is indeed primed for digital video:

“We felt the appetite of regional broadcasters, publishers, and content creators to adapt VOD, streaming, and live services. As more people shift to online video, there are more opportunities to maximize revenues and attract more customers, whether in SVoD or AVoD models. In fact, a number of our customers that own huge archives of legacy content are powering up their growth through OTT-based distribution models, whether in B2B or B2C models. The video streaming industry is on the rise, and it will be interesting to see more monetization alternatives evolve in the near future, especially in the Metaverse landscape.”

But quality content in a digital format isn’t the only key to tapping into the MENA region’s growth:

“Regional OTT providers are also striving for better streaming and delivery service, especially when it comes to livestreaming. Their customers are paying subscription fees for a premium experience, which puts increased pressure on broadcasters to deliver not only good content but premium quality service. We have a number of service providers engaged with us to explore the possibilities of how to improve their delivery service. They’re even keen to change technologies, workflows, and architecture as they realize how quickly users can churn given the increasingly stiff competition on the OTT landscape. Thankfully with Brightcove Live, we could serve our clients a stable and reliable service. With 16 completely secure global data centers handling hundreds of millions of videos a week with 99.99% uptime, our customers are in good hands.

MENA’s Projected Opportunity

CABSAT 2022 was also the site for industry research organization, IABM, to reveal its 2022 MENA regional report, which gave content owners even more confidence in market growth. The IABM research presented at the conference showed that of all media technologies, OTT and streaming platforms now rank with the highest combination of development priority and regional relevance.

As digital technologies increase their share of entertainment revenue, media companies across the board have prioritized engaging their audiences through video, across devices, and with uninterrupted reliability. Many are responding with DTC (direct-to-consumer) offerings, which is driving major investments in original and even local content in the region.

What’s more, new OTT services continue to launch, and with them grow the subscriber base. The number of VOD and OTT media subscribers in the MENA region steadily grew throughout the pandemic (around 10 million by the end of 2021) and is projected to top 15 million in 2022.

To stake a claim in today’s rapidly changing OTT marketplace, content owners are focused on attending to viewers’ preferences for content, device, viewer experience, price tolerance, and even interactivity. These areas represent the IABM report’s fastest-growing segments of the end-to-end media supply chain–monetization and consumption.

But it will take more than just a video platform to meet both the opportunities and demands in MENA. Media companies want solutions that integrate with technology vendors to tie in analytics, monetization, and subscriber management with the front end. Those are demands that Brightcove, in partnership with MAAS World, is prepared to meet.