Anti-Piracy Efforts, Turkey, Web TV to Boost Middle East Pay TV Business

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The number of pay TV homes in the Middle East and North Africa will double to 16 million by 2018, with revenue set to jump 42 percent, according to a forecast.

LONDON -- The number of pay TV households and pay TV revenue in the Middle East and North Africa will see strong growth through 2018, according to a new forecast from research firm Digital TV Research.

The third edition of its Digital TV Middle East and North Africa report cited growth in Turkey and measures to combat piracy as key drivers.

As of the end of 2012, fewer than 15 percent of TV homes in the region legitimately paid for TV signals, according to its data. But this will climb to 21.6 percent by 2018, the firm estimated.

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“Legitimate pay TV revenues [for the 16 countries covered in the report] will grow by more than 42 percent between 2012 and 2018 to $4.76 billion," study author Simon Murray said. Turkish accounts for more than half of the total.

The number of pay TV households in the region will double to 16 million between 2011 and 2018, he projected.

Internet-delivered TV services will also be a key growth driver. The number of homes paying for IPTV services will overtake cable subscribers in 2016, led by gains in Turkey and Egypt, the study predicted. But penetration of IPTV will be higher in such countries as the United Arab Emirates (46 percent), Qatar (37 percent) and Cyprus (32 percent).

Overall, IPTV revenue will more than quadruple between 2012 and 2018 to $644 million.

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Murray said that the Digital TV Research forecasts are based on the 16 most advanced countries -- with 67 million TV households -- in the broader Middle East and North Africa region. However, there are 104 million TV homes across 31 countries in the whole region, and that figure will jump to 115 million by 2017, he estimated.

"Major countries outside those that we have undertaken full forecasts for -- that have longer-term potential -- include Iran (11 million TV households), Afghanistan (4.4 million TV households), Iraq (4.8 million TV households) and Uzbekistan (4.1 million TV households)," the report said.

Twitter: @georgszalai