The pay-TV subscription market in Africa and the Middle East (AME) is facing a growing threat from increasing competition from both international and domestic OTT (Over-the-Top) video players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

AME pay-TV up for the challenge

In order to grow subscriber numbers, many OTT video players acquired distribution partners, obtained unique content and adapted content to the native languages of the country.

To challenge this growing trend, many pay-TV players in AME have opted to partner with well-established OTT players or alternatively entered the OTT market by developing their own OTT app.

Below are some recent examples of pay-TV operator OTT video initiatives:

Etisalat opted to complement its pay-TV portfolio offering and enhance its video content library by partnering with STARZ Play. In January 2018, Etisalat entered into a five-year content deal with STARZ Play, allowing its UAE consumers to view STARZ Play content across Etisalat’s IPTV and mobile services platforms.

Iflix has an established subscriber presence in AME. However, in April 2018, Iflix partnered with telco operator Inwi to enter the MENA market by launching its services in Morocco. Iflix announced it will tailor its content by localising its production content with local languages.

OSN launched a new OTT platform called WAVO in August 2017 to supplement the pay-TV players’ satellite offering. However, OSN then signed a partnership deal with Netflix in February 2018 to further grow its content offering and potentially grow its subscriber base.

Threats and opportunities

Despite being in its infancy in AME, the OTT video market is both a threat and an opportunity to pay-TV players. Although this can increase the number of competitors, it can be an opportunity for pay-TV operators to complement their TV offering. Pay-TV players could develop their own OTT video apps or partner with already-established OTT players. This could lead to an increase in pay-TV subscriptions as consumers require a pay-TV subscription to access the pay-TV players’ OTT platform.

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