TV.ae online streaming service users are now able to view shows featured on Abu Dhabi TV and Al Emarat, such as Khiyanat Watan Min Riwayat Ritaj, following an agreement that was reported this week in local publication The National.
This deal coincides with the start of Ramadan in the region and brings viewers programming in English and Arabic across a number of genres, including talk shows, dramas, documentaries and sports. It allows users without a long-term cable contract to access this content.
Commenting on the deal, Ali Al Shaiba, the chief executive of TV.ae, said there was strong demand in the market for streaming services and that regional internet usage was up to over 128 million users. According to Ovum, two-thirds of the world’s Arab population is under 30, making it a prime target for online video entertainment.
Last year, Ovum profiled the 11 leading premium subscription streaming services in the Middle East and found that the sector is destined for rapid growth despite what were low current levels of spending at 5% of total OTT video spending.
SVOD services in the region mostly originate from established telcos, pay TV operators and broadcasters but Ovum predicted that non-native services will increase competition in this nascent space.
The region saw the launch of US pay TV network Starz and the recent arrival of Netflix which has improved availability of foreign content in the region. “Middle Eastern subscription streaming is set to grow dramatically compared to other regional markets over the coming years,” said Ismail Patel, analyst in Ovum’s TV Practice at the time.
“A dramatic increase in SVOD numbers is forecast in the next few years and 2019 will see more than 1 million Middle Eastern subscribers watching streaming services,” he continued. “Long-held reservations when considering a MENA launch are no longer game breakers as censorship controls are relaxed for pay-TV operators and streaming services.”