On-demand TV streaming expected to spike in MENA by 2026

Apart from Netflix and Disney+, other major contenders are Amazon, OSN and Shahid VIP.
Saturday 27/02/2021
A poster of the Ethos (bir baskadir) Turkish Netflix series on a laptop screen. (AFP)
A poster of the Ethos (bir baskadir) Turkish Netflix series on a laptop screen. (AFP)

DUBAI--On-demand streaming services are expected to gain traction in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the next five years, according to a study by Digital TV Research.

MENA countries are expected to add tens of millions of subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+, making it a critical emerging market in the sector, the study found.

The February report, titled “Middle East and North Africa OTT TV and Video Forecasts,” notes that the region is expected to jump to 32.65 million subscribers by 2026 from 14.16 million at the end of last year. It projected Turkey to lead the pack, drawing 14 million subscribers alone.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Netflix and Disney+ will account for about half of the region’s total by 2026, despite Disney+ only starting in 2022 in a limited number of countries. Due to exclusive deals with Disney+, HBO and Paramount+, OSN will quickly gain subscribers.”

Apart from Netflix and Disney+, other major contenders are Amazon, OSN and Shahid VIP.

Streaming giants that have largely replaced traditional TV viewing in the US and Europe have in recent years ramped up efforts to reach the MENA audience. Netflix’s strategy has included the release of dozens of historic and original Arabic-language movies and series from across the region.

“We want more people around the world to have access to great stories and have the chance to see their lives represented on screen,” Nuha El Tayeb, Netflix’s director of content acquisitions for the MENA region, said last year. “We also believe that great stories come  from anywhere and can travel everywhere connecting with audiences far beyond their place or language of origin.”