Tarek Saadi, vice president and head of sales, Ericsson Region Middle East, offers Digital Studio his views on 2015 and ericsson’s position in the broadcast industry
How was 2015 for your company?
2015 was a transformational year for Ericsson in the Middle East in this industry and saw us focusing heavily on creating and delivering key video solutions to operators and broadcasters alike. Simultaneously we have added some major capabilities to our product portfolio that made us unique to address the challenges of the industry and provide very novel solutions. We have established a highly dedicated and established subject matter expert team for media management to assist in the transformation to digital video and media delivery where we see many of our customers are at an inflection point for such transformation.
What successes did Ericsson enjoy in 2015?
Earlier in the year we signed a strategic deal with TwoFour54 out of our newly established media hub in Abu Dhabi, UAE for a multi-channel playout and media management service and a few months thereafter this allowed for launching a new pan-regional Arabic Language TV channel, Quest Arabiya, to launch as part of an exclusive multi-year deal.
In the third quarter, we can humbly claim staking new grounds for our TV & Media solutions in Turkey where we signed a deal with Turk Telekom that is truly transformational and addresses taking that operator to new capabilities for IPTV and OTT seamless services for its future content offers.
In June 2015, we launched our flagship MediaFirst multiscreen middleware with state of the art features, cloud-run enabling immersive video experiences to the end customers.
Why were these developments significant for you?
On the playout and media management services we identified regional presence out of the UAE as a media hub is important and necessary to service many channels present in country or potentially likely to host out of UAE and we saw an opportunity that we take building the critical mass of hosted channels to optmise the cost of such services and allow this hub to grow organically, as we globally saw that many broadcasters would want to relieve themselves of such specialized services to focus more on pressing marketing demands of their content and offers and realisation of revenue. And for many others we thought bringing media services like the ones we’re currently undertaking servicing such large customers globally such as the BBC, could benefit the region and accelerate the adoption of such services for differentiation.
On the technology part, you’d notice we are constantly fulfilling the value chain of our portfolio to enhance and enrich the features, user experience and virtualisation of future video services to allow for mass infiltration where we believe such strategy would release the required revenues to our customer base.
What were the main challenges that you faced as a company in 2015?
I would say the main regional challenge that we saw was the complete readiness for our customers to adopt new video services. These challenges are present due mainly to the lack of enablement via systematic and uniform fixed and mobile broadband and compelling monetized content, for example 4K or Ultra High Definition in terms of mass scale content availability or ability of operators and broadcasters infrastructures to carry remains somehow limited and the overall video business cases standing in their own right is still a bit challenging.
What was your perception of the overall business climate in 2015?
The market spend for TV & media solutions had modest growth in 2015 and that could largely be due to regional instability in some areas and deferred budgetary spend given the pressures on local buying powers. However in the markets where the infrastructure was ready we saw a good potential for future video business and definitely more focus on that element in the overall digital services.
What do you think were the biggest milestones for the industry in 2015?
Noteworthy this year was noticing the large shift of key broadcasters towards digital media some of whom launching new OTT services such as Dubai Media Inc., BEIN Sports, MBC’s Shahed, StarzPlay and the advent of Netflix to the region at some point in the near future are all catalyst for availing content seamlessly.