Subscriptions will be key for HD: Rotana
by John Parnell on Dec 8, 2009

The subscription-based model will be essential for the future success of HD in the Middle East, according to Yousef Mugharbil, president of Rotana Digital Media.

Mugharbil also revealed that the Saudi media giant plans to launch at least one HD channel by the end of next year but is still deliberating the details of any proposed service including which business model to pursue and which genre of programming to push first.

“We’re not going to rush into offering HD,” said Mugharbil speaking at the SatCom conference in Dubai. “We are talking to other broadcasters and content owners to work out the best value proposition for HD. In the US, 80 percent of HD content is available on pay TV only, it is likely we would be looking at a subscription offering.

“It is fairly clear that sports and movies will be very important content for HD. We own 70 percent of all Arab movies ever made. We don’t have enough HD content at the moment however, we are producing more right now,” he added.

These sentiments were echoed by Mohamed Youssif, CEO, YahLive.

“The future of HD is on pay platforms. We have already seen this in other markets. Consumers in the Middle East have to get used to paying for our content. Advertising is down – some companies are making a loss – it can no longer be the only source of income for broadcasters.”