Middle East, North Africa pay TV growing

Research says Orbit-Showtime merger provides boost

LONDON -- The Middle East and North African pay TV market is forecast to grow 59% to 11 million homes by the end of 2014, according to new research from Informa Telecoms and Media, which says regional growth will be boosted by the recent merger between regional platforms Orbit and Showtime.

Turkey and Israel will remain the biggest markets in the region, with 60% of the pay TV market by 2014, but markets like Kuwait and Cyprus will also become strengthened pay TV prospects.

Pay TV in the region has been bolstered by the confirmation of Orbit and Showtime’s merger this month. The Kuwaiti-owned merged venture will have a combined pay TV subscriber base in excess of 600,000, giving it an 8.9% share of the regional total.

Post-merger, Orbit/Showtime becomes the fourth-largest pay TV player in the region.

Turkish platform Digiturk remains the biggest player, forecast to have 2.4 million subscribers by 2011, well ahead of its nearest competitor ART, which is forecast to have 1.1 million by the same period. Israeli cable platform HOT is predicted to have 947,000 homes in five years time.

“Up until now the pay TV sector in the region has, to a large extent, relied on heavyweight financial backers to prop up ineffective business models,” Informa media research manager Adam Thomas said. 

“This deal provides a strong indication that those days are over and that the pay TV sector will now be run as a viable commercial business,” he added.