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Can television survive amid digital challenge?

4157Television has fared positively in an increasingly digital Middle East, but should be conscious of the ever-changing digital environment and the power it can provide in advancing regional television, said an industry analyst, commenting on a new report.

The report “Television’s business model - Fit for a digital world: Middle East perspective” published by Deloitte, a provider of audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services, assesses television’s current performance and outlook given the growing number of digital challengers. The report is based on Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey- an online survey taking place in 22 countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“Our report seeks to explore and answer the key question of how television is faring in the current global and regional environment in the face of digital disruptions, which have taken hold abroad and at home in the region,” explained Santino Saguto, partner and Technology, Media and Telecommunications leader at Deloitte Middle East.

“Four of the foremost ‘digital challengers’ were studied and Deloitte’s assessment of each suggests that traditional television’s outlook remains positive”.

The four most major digital challengers assessed in this report include:

Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD)

The region has seen a rise in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) providers. The Deloitte report finds that although SVOD is gaining traction in the region and growing at a much faster pace than global markets, the Middle East, at less than one per cent, still represents a very small share of worldwide SVOD revenues.

However, SVOD in the Middle East is still at a nascent stage, with much fewer players active locally than in more established markets such as Europe. With much higher uptake and penetration in online streaming, there is plenty of consumer demand and room for the local SVOD market to grow, creating opportunities for local players to capitalize on.

The recent foray of standalone regional SVOD providers into original content, a strategy that helped revive Netflix’s fortunes, could represent a defining trend separating potential winners from losers in a market with a disproportionate amount of free content.


The rise of the Internet and the abundance of sports related information available from the Web challenge television’s primacy as the principal source of premium sports content. Findings suggest that television always has and will continue to remain the home of premium sports.

In the Middle East, Deloitte estimates that in 2015 and beyond, the value of premium region-specific sports rights will continue to increase by at least 15-20 per cent per annum. With global sports rights estimated to be growing at a slightly slower pace in 2015 than the 14 per cent growth predicted for 2014, regional sports rights from next year are set to outpace global growth by an even wider margin.

Video clips

Short-form has boldly risen in the region, with viewing statistics in the ‘millions’ and even the ‘billions’. Despite this, findings suggest that although short-form video clips are gaining popularity globally and locally, traditional long-form television maintains its dominance in Middle East viewership levels, hours watched and advertising revenues.


Although technology companies seem to dominate when it comes to innovation, the TV industry has proven adept at exploiting a range of technological advances, such as video compression. Similarly in the Middle East, television has maintained its position as the dominant media platform, despite digital disruptions including the rise of online streaming, social media, mobile gaming as well as smartphone and smart TV penetration. – TradeArabia News Service

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