MENA now home to 143 pay TV channels

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 02-05-2012

The four satellite TV platforms providing subscription-based services to the Arab world together host 143 channels across various genres, according to Jordan-based consultancy Arab Advisors Group.

Three of these operators, Dubai-based OSN, Qatar's Al Jazeera Sports, and Abu Dhabi Sports also provide high definition (HD) channels. The fourth, Al Majd, which is owned by Saudi businessman Abdur-Rahman Ashmeri, offers four free to air channels and nine encrypted channels.

Of the four, Al Jazeera Sports+ offers the greatest amount of premium sporting channels, says the new report, 'Satellite Pay TV operators in the Arab World 2012'. Rival broadcaster Abu Dhabi Sports, operated by Abu Dhabi Media, however currently holds the much sought after football broadcast rights to the English Premier League.

"By February 2012, the four pay TV providers offered 143 channels. OSN had the highest number with 100 channels (including the three pay-per-view channels and on demand channel), Abu Dhabi Sports came in second with 18 channels, while Al Jazeera Sports+ provided 16 channels dedicated for all sorts of sports events. Al Majd TV provided 9 encoded channels," said Zaid Abawi, research analyst, Arab Advisors Group.

"Despite the promotions of pay TV operators, most of the Arab World remains tuned to free-to-air (FTA) satellite TV channels. Economically, many viewers seem to favour the free content of FTA channels rather than paying for TV content," he added.