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Government initiatives that fuel internet penetration, coupled with the explosive adoption of smartphones, are altering the way Middle East and North Africa (MENA) watch television (TV). Piracy continues to loom large over the industry and poses a massive challenge to the uptake of Pay TV services; however, consumer interest for high quality exclusive Arabic and international content over all screens will increase opportunities for the industry.

Global growth consulting firm Frost & Sullivan is a Knowledge Partner for CABSAT 2017, the leading conference and exhibition for broadcast and digital media industry in the MENA. Frost & Sullivan’s director of Digital Media, Vidya S Nath will present the key highlights of its State of the Industry Report and moderate a panel with speakers from Fox International and Gracenote to discuss if broadcasters and Pay TV providers in the region are prepared for the disruptions in the industry, and how Over-the-top (OTT) and pay TV services will transform the MENA broadcast ecosystem. Frost & Sullivan will also release a "State of the Industry" report on MENA media, Growth in Pay TV and OTT video services amidst looming piracy challenges, during the launch of the event.

While live streaming, remote production with cloud deployment, transition from serial digital interface (SDI) to Internet Protocol (IP), and higher adoption of high definition (HD) are paving way for Ultra HD/4K TV viewing, broadcasters are still plagued by falling advertising revenues, plenty of free-to-air offerings, and competitive pressures to launch OTT services.

"There is a high appetite for good quality international and exclusive Arabic as well as Western content among the tech-savvy population in MENA," noted Frost & Sullivan Digital Media Research director Vidya S Nath. "Customer experience and user interface in the OTT industry, on the other hand, is not effectively streamlined, accessible or user-friendly. OTT companies must adopt effective methods for personalization, customization and analytical tools to ensure faster growth."

Nath finds that despite the abundance of free to air services and several international sites offering pirated content, consumers will be willing to pay for content if it is valuable. While sports is the bastion for pay TV growth in the region, it cannot by itself fuel mass pay TV adoption and accelerate revenue.