The Middle East broadcasting industry has reached a defining moment in its development that could see a shift away from today’s free-to-air (FTA) dominated landscape towards subscription-based, on demand services, according to YahLive CEO Mohamed Youssif.
The growth of FTA channels in the region has levelled-off during the past year and Youssif believes this is the beginning of a major reorganisation of the broadcast industry as a whole.
“At the moment people give their spare time to view free entertainment,” said Youssif, speaking exclusively to DPME.com. “But this model will not last much longer. People don’t have much free time these days, now they want to watch what they want, when they want.”
“We are at a crossroads and the [business] has to change to accommodate this. With broadcasters being squeezed by expensive content and a challenging advertising market, they have to start looking at another source of revenue – a viewer supported model – pay TV,” said Youssif.
“If you look at the figures around the world subscription is outpacing advertising as a source of revenue. Many broadcasters are starting to realise this and are looking for a new business model,” claimed Youssif. “The FTA networks are looking at ways to monetise their content and once they figure that out they will start to launch new services and new channels to address this.
“I feel it is about time that people get used to the idea of paying for their TV. We do pay for everything else – our electricity, water, phone calls, when we drive on the roads – why does TV have to be free? People demand top quality content even though they are paying nothing.”
With viewers now increasingly expecting HD and to a lesser extent 3D services, broadcasters are also being asked to find new funds to back these ventures. This combination of factors means the industry is now in “the calm before the storm”, according to Youssif.