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New platforms spark innovation in MENA’s connected TV market

Michael Dean, Informa Telecoms & Media

Michael Dean, Informa Telecoms & Media

Connected TV is rapidly evolving in MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), with providers, broadcasters and manufacturers such as STC, OSN (Orbit Showtime Network) and Samsung already offering consumers increased access to content through smart devices. This growing saturation of the market provides the backdrop for this year’s TV Connect MENA, which has developed in recent years to focus on IPTV, OTTtv, multiscreen and cloud TV services for regional service providers.

The number of connected devices, particularly tablets, is fueling demand for OTT, cloud and multiscreen services in MENA, and is expected to dramatically increase over the next five years. Informa Telecoms & Media reports that 6.5 million tablets were sold across the Middle East and Africa in 2012. That figure is forecast to increase to a staggering 32.1 million in 2016.

Michael Dean, Research Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, comments on the growth opportunity: “The OTT-content and services landscape across MENA has traditionally been rather barren, but the situation is changing quickly with OTT start-ups starting to emerge, and the number of rival operator initiatives increasing.”

“Mobile broadband may currently be in the nascent stages across much of the region but it is increasingly becoming a greater growth area for rural internet users in many MENA markets. In addition, the Gulf Cooperation Council is scheduling to have LTE networks in place by end-2013, meaning there will be a further rise in mobile data usage. This will undoubtedly place more demand on increased content delivery. Saudi Arabia and the UAE alone already have traditionally high levels of TV content consumption. For example, according to OSN, the average household watches six to seven hours of TV content per day,” adds Dean.

Focusing on OTTtv, multiscreen and cloud TV services, and the opportunities within the IPTV industry, the annual TV Connect MENA holds more relevance than ever for service providers, telecom/cable/satellite operators, broadcasters, content providers, gaming aggregators and CE manufacturers.

Kamelija Stefanova, the conference director of TV Connect MENA, comments: “The event will explore OTT and IPTV convergence; offer presentations about developing content monetisation strategies; look at the business of CDNs and data centres for telecom operators; assess the role of advertising agencies in the connected media space; show best practice OTT and IPTV projects; and see how multiscreen services are becoming part of the digital home. We as organisers are in a unique position to provide one meeting place for broadband, LTE and TV markets and offer learning opportunities for maximising the power of 4G/LTE networks to offer TV on the Go, utilising user interface for improved content discovery and using apps for on-demand video services.”

The conference and exhibition has already gained support from the region’s key players, including Etisalat, Du, Qtel, Batelco, Omantel, Tunisie Telecom, Telecom Egypt and Zain; plus, a series of content providers from the likes of OSN, Al Jazeera, Rotana, MBC and Multichoice.

Hadi Raad, Head of Marketing – Emerging Arabia (MENA) at Google, is already confirmed to deliver a presentation on ‘Multiscreen and mobility taking generations by storm: catering to ever expanding demand for video content.’ He comments: “Bringing online entertainment to the biggest screen at home is inevitable. I’m thrilled with all the developments making consumer experience rich and ubiquitous.” This highlights the dedication of the world’s most powerful internet giant Google to enter the TV market and reinforces the importance of the event to act as a hub for setting strategic direction for service providers in the region.

The event programme includes keynote presentations from a stellar speaker line-up including Rashed Majed Alabbar, VP of Home Product Marketing at Etisalat; David Hanson, Director of Digital at OSN; Jayhun Mollazade, CEO, Azqtel; and Fares Akkad, Head of Distribution and Digital Business Development, MBC; amongst others.

The 2013 conference and exhibition will take place at the Park Hyatt, Dubai on 5-6 November. To view the full event programme and register for TV Connect MENA 2013, please visit http://mena.tvconnectevent.com/.

Twitter: @_MichaelDean

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