A new report published by market research firm Informa Telecoms & Media has declared ART the pan-Arab region’s largest pay TV service provider by subscriber numbers, beating out the newly merged Showtime-Orbit entity.
The report found that ART currently boasts 894,000 subscribers compared to Showtime-Orbit’s 619,000.
Informa predicts this trend will continue, despite the purported strength of the Showtime-Orbit collaboration.
By 2011, ART is expected to boast 1, 136,000 subscribers across the pan-Arab region, with Showtime-Orbit trailing with just 747,000 subscribers.
The Saudi-owned network is predicted to improve its lead further by 2014, at which point Informa predicts it will have 1,391,000 subscribers, compared to Showtime-Orbit’s 872,000.
In the key market of the UAE, Etisalat-owned cable network E-Vision secured top spot with 340,000 subscribers, compared to rival du’s predominantly Dubai-based IPTV service, which has 81,000 subscribers.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s KCV, which operates satellite and cable services in the country, boasts 54,000 subscribers.
Across the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Informa predicts the pay TV market will grow from 6.9 million subscribers at the end of 2008 to 11 million by 2014.
“Pay TV in the region has been bolstered by the confirmation of Orbit and Showtime’s merger, which will increase their chances of competing with pan-regional subscriber leader ART and will act to make the sector more financially stable,” Informa stated in the report’s summary.
Informa Telecoms & Media’s media research manager, Adam Thomas, described the Showtime-Orbit merger as “a major step in the right direction”.
“Both have been investing heavily in content rights and this consolidation should help them to exploit those assets more effectively,” he said.
“Up until now the pay TV sector in the region has, to a large extent, relied on heavyweight financial backers to prop up ineffective business models.
“This deal provides a strong indication that those days are over and that the pay TV sector will now be run as a viable commercial business.”