Video providers should consider leveraging next-generation technology to enhance viewer experience.
This is an exciting time for video providers in the Middle East. Growing customer appetite for paid content has incubated new (and potentially very lucrative) opportunities, as long as providers are successful in navigating an increasingly competitive and fast-evolving environment.
Valued at more than $30bn in 2020, the Middle East media and entertainment market is expected to rise to more than $47bn by 2026. Mordor Intelligence LLP reports that a lot of this growth is being driven by new pay-TV and OTT players populating a market previously dominated by free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting.
An increase in the popularity of SVOD and AVOD services presents some interesting opportunities for the MENA region. Until recently, there were concerns that the growing variety of OTT players would eventually result in saturation and increased user churn. However, there is potential to not only steer consumers towards signing up for a tailored selection of OTT platforms (according to their preferences) but also to help them engage more meaningfully with the services they choose.
As MENA moves towards a more pay TV- and OTT-dominated landscape, how can broadcasters and content providers seamlessly connect audiences with content and new experiences, while extending monetisation opportunities?
Maximise your data
All video service providers have access to insight about their audience; many are using it to some extent, but few are truly maximising its potential. If done comprehensively, the collection of high-quality data should enable you to fully understand your audience and their consumption preferences and habits. This should also empower you to take a more personalised approach to content recommendations, adverts and even the entire user experience. Not only does this maximise value for advertisers on an ad-funded service, it also delivers a much more seamless experience for consumers, helping to increase engagement and reduce churn.
A successful data strategy needs to make sure that the insight captured is also properly leveraged to serve the overarching business strategy and objectives. What this looks like will vary for each provider, depending on unique challenges and opportunities.
Leveraging social watching, XR functionalities and other tech
Video providers should consider leveraging next-generation technology to enhance viewer experience. Social watching has proven particularly popular during the pandemic, with consumers forced to socialise in virtual settings. Beyond Covid, it will still offer a way for viewers to watch and interact together, regardless of where they are located. This could go some way to bringing back the social aspect of viewing content where families used to gather together in front of the TV, rather than all consuming on separate screens.
Another way to differentiate is through the use of immersive technology, using things like extended reality (XR) functionalities to build an entire experience around the video content. Not only does this increase engagement, but it can also open up potential new revenue streams. Imagine enabling your viewers to purchase virtual assets within an XR experience, for example.
Find new business models
Diversifying revenue streams beyond traditional models will become important. Subscription services are currently on the rise, but as market competition tightens, it will become more challenging to monetise services through this method alone. For some providers, this might mean transitioning to a completely ad-funded model; for others, it can be about taking a hybrid approach which leverages both SVOD and AVOD options. It can also be about exploring entirely new revenue streams by incorporating things like shoppable TV experiences into your offering, giving consumers a frictionless path to purchasing merchandise associated with specific content they are consuming. As the media landscape continues to ramp up, new players and incumbents alike need to find new ways to engage and excite viewers if they are to maximise the potential of consumer interest, especially for paid and subscription services.
Alex Wilkinson is Head of Sales & Marketing EMEA, Accedo.