Industry Thought Leadership

Satellites Spur TV Growth in MENA

March, 2017
Markus Fritz
Executive Vice President of Commercial Development & Strategic Partnerships


Eutelsat’s key satellite neighbourhoods are leading the expansion of SD, HD and Ultra HD TV services across the Middle East and North Africa.

The Middle East and North Africa TV market continues to be one of the most exciting and dynamic in the world. Overall growth of all television viewers is higher than ever before, with exciting opportunities particularly in High Definition and Ultra HD.

Eutelsat, one of the world’s leading operators of communications satellites, operates the most popular satellite neighbourhoods in the region and continues to develop innovative services that enable TV platform operators and broadcasters to maximise the potential of their markets.

The 7/8° West position, commercialised by both Eutelsat and Nilesat, is the leading broadcast neighbourhood for MENA and already reaches 90% of TV homes in the region.
The second most important TV neighbourhood in MENA is 13° East. Home to the HOTBIRD family of satellites, it reaches 38 million homes across the region and is a unique bridge between MENA and Europe.

The new 7° East orbital position has also seen important growth for customers in South-East Europe, Turkey and the Middle East with over 8 million homes. It is a growing hotspot for Farsi-speaking audiences with over 30 channels joining the neighbourhood in the last 12 months.

Vibrant market
TV channels reach into more than 52.3 million homes in 14 Arab countries

The Middle East and North Africa region continues to show powerful growth, according to the latest consumer survey from the Eutelsat TV Observatory. The total number of homes in 2016 stands at 64.7 million with TV ownership at 94%, and as high as 98% in some countries. A staggering 91% of TV homes are served by satellite.

“Our 2016 survey takes the pulse of the vibrant Arab TV market and shows key trends that include the acceleration of High Definition broadcasting and the diversity of free-to-air channels in the region,” said Markus Fritz, Eutelsat EVP Commercial Development and Strategic Partnerships.

“The survey confirms the pole position of the 7/8º West neighbourhood that today enables TV channels to reach into more than 52.3 million homes in 14 Arab countries. The new wave of growth is also reflected in the 40% increase in High Definition channels in 2016, further confirming 7/8° West as the video neighbourhood of reference in the Middle East and North Africa.”

No.1 in the region
Satellite in the MENA region remains the backbone of digital TV infrastructure, reaching into 56.1 million homes. Over the last three years, 75% of the 3.4 million new homes that have selected satellite as primary means for TV reception have chosen the 7/8° West neighbourhood, further anchoring its leading position, up 2.6 million since 2014. The pull of 7/8° West is driven by a strong channel line-up of 1,264 Arabic and international channels, of which almost 150 are in High Definition, as well as the vast choice and unique offer of free-to-air content (44% of channels are exclusive to this position).

HD and beyond
2016 marked a tipping point for HDTV

HD is gaining traction, with the number of HD-equipped homes crossing a threshold of 20 million, up from 14.4 million and now accounting for 34% of TV homes in the region. This percentage is even higher within the 7/8º West audience (46%).

HD channels are continuously being added to the offering, with free-to-air channels in HD now outnumbering pay-TV channels. The most recent addition includes five channels launched by Kuwait TV and Echourouk News HD, the 24/7 Algerian news channel.

Ali Fodil, Managing Director and founder of the Echourouk Group, said: “With the launch last December of our all-news channel in HD via the EUTELSAT 7 West A satellite, we are fully embracing key technology trends and giving viewers the benefit of the superior image quality.”
Across all Eutelsat satellites, there are now more than 1,000 HD channels. “2016 marked a tipping point for High Definition TV across our video neighbourhoods, reaching a new landmark of 1,000 channels, many of which are exclusive to Eutelsat,” said Eutelsat’s Fritz. “We are fully equipped to accommodate this accelerating pace and work closely with broadcasters as they transition to an enhanced viewing experience.”

Fast-growing Ultra HD
“We are proud to reinforce our partnership with Eutelsat”
Prashant Chothani, Travelxp 4K

Exclusive Ultra HD content continues to expand on Eutelsat satellites, helping spur growth for the next generation of high-end delivery. GfK data reveals that 1.2 million Ultra HD sets were sold by the end of 2015 in the region.

FunBox UHD joined the HOTBIRD neighbourhood in 2016, offering amazing Ultra HD content to cable networks, IP network operators and DTH communities across the satellite footprint, from Germany to Dubai, Qatar to Turkey. HOTBIRD already has an addressable Ultra HD connected market of 5 million homes, and a potential cable subscriber base of 550 million homes.

Two more Ultra HD channels have also launched on HOTBIRD. Fashion TV’s new Ultra HD channel, FTV UHD and Travelxp 4K, the world’s first 4K travel channel, have chosen HOTBIRD’s market-leading penetration into cable and IPTV networks across Europe and MENA.

Building on the one-of-a-kind Fashion TV brand, FTV UHD is setting a new standard in fashion and lifestyle broadcasting through original programming on style and trends offered with exceptional image quality.

FTV UHD’s CEO, Michel Adam Lisowski, commented: “We are excited to pursue our commitment to the highest quality of broadcasting standards through an Ultra HD channel offering Eutelsat’s HOTBIRD homes exceptional images of the latest fashion events from around the world.”
Available in seven languages, Travelxp 4K, features world class travel programmes filmed all over the world. The 4K channel follows the success of Travelxp HD, which offers 100% originally-produced premium travel and lifestyle programming distributed to over 50 million homes globally.

Travelxp 4K CEO, Prashant Chothani, commented: “Travelxp 4K is all about bringing the world to homes in stunning resolution. It’s not just about more pixels in 4K but better pixels. We are proud to reinforce our partnership with Eutelsat and to benefit from their vast knowledge of the Ultra HD broadcasting chain. Joining the HOTBIRD neighbourhood and gaining access to a unique and ethnically diverse population pool is a natural step for us that will fast-track penetration of Travelxp 4K into homes across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.”

Eutelsat added: “The launch of FTV UHD and Travelxp 4K is new evidence of the move by content producers to Ultra HD. Their trust in Eutelsat reflects our commitment to delivering service that guarantees viewers an enriched and unrivalled Ultra HD experience. We are proud to support these new channels and look forward to accelerating their distribution across the vast footprint provided by our HOTBIRD video neighbourhood.”

Overall, the exciting Middle East and North Africa market is a crucial focus for Eutelsat as broadcasters look to attract new audiences, launch new services and connect with people in their homes and on the move.

Deliver the best experience and maximum choice
“Eutelsat shares our vision”
Robert Le Merle, Manoto TV

Manoto TV, the popular Persian-language channel, has recently completed its switch in SD and HD versions to the EUTELSAT 7B satellite. The channel is now available exclusively from Eutelsat’s HOTBIRD satellites and EUTELSAT 7B, which together form a single neighbourhood for Persian-speaking viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Iran.

More than two million HOTBIRD homes in Iran are already equipped for dual-feed reception from HOTBIRD and the adjacent EUTELSAT 7B satellite to benefit from the superior image quality of Manoto TV in HD and a diverse line-up of free-to-air content.

Robert Le Merle, Manoto’s Operations Director said: “Manoto TV has become the most popular Persian-language channel by staying ahead of the competition. Viewer expectations are rising all the time. The audience won’t settle for cheap pop-up channels anymore. We want to deliver the best experience for our viewers with larger scale production and high resolution pictures. We are working with Eutelsat to deliver premium quality entertainment into this growing market. Many satellite providers in this territory can only grab short-term opportunities. We need to work with a company that has a vision for the future. Eutelsat shares our vision.”

Dual-feed maximises choice
A low-cost, dual-feed solution makes it simple for audiences to access services on both Eutelsat’s 7º East satellites and 13º East, home to EMEA’s prime HOTBIRD broadcast neighbourhood.

The easy-to-install monoblock LNB enables an 80cm satellite dish pointed at 13° East to access both neighbourhoods seamlessly. It means broadcasters can cost-effectively reach millions of TV homes across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East served by HOTBIRD, while 7° East satellites provide a key orbital position for audiences in South-East Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

Homes can receive over 1200 TV channels from the 13° East and 7° East orbital locations, creating even more value for audiences.

Multiscreen delivery with SmartBEAM
Eutelsat’s SmartBEAM service provides a satellite-based solution for multiscreen video delivery to connected devices and WiFi Hotspots.

SmartBEAM is a game-changer for extending access to video content on mobile devices beyond terrestrial networks and has a competitive edge for mass market delivery of OTT services via satellite.

The service enables broadcasters and pay-TV operators to leverage the ubiquitous coverage of satellites to broadcast video content in IP format, creating a network that is completely dedicated to IP-native terminals, including tablets and smartphones. SmartBEAM works with any WiFi-enabled device, supporting instant channel change, DRM security and low latency.

Tricolor TV, the operator of one of the world’s fastest-growing TV platforms, is already preparing to launch SmartBEAM to complement its linear Pay-TV service in Russia, going beyond the four walls of user homes to reach viewers on their mobile devices in public.

Key satellites for MENA
7/8º West
The Number 1 broadcast neighbourhood in MENA with 250 million TV viewers.

7º East
New video hotspot for South-East Europe, Turkey, the Middle East.

13º East
HOTBIRD 13B, 13C, 13E
A unique bridge for Arab communities living in Europe and Europeans living in MENA.