GCC video industry to generate revenue of $1.6bn in 2020

GCC video industry to generate revenue of $1.6bn in 2020
Aravind Venugopal, vice president of Media Partners Asia (MPA), an independent research company. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 December 2020

GCC video industry to generate revenue of $1.6bn in 2020

GCC video industry to generate revenue of $1.6bn in 2020
  • The sector had a slowdown due to COVID-19, but a quick rebound is expected

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) video industry — comprising free TV, pay TV and online video — will generate revenues of $1.6 billion in 2020, a year-on-year decline of 13 percent, according to a new industry report.

The report, titled “GCC Video & Broadband Distribution 2020,” was compiled by independent research company Media Partners Asia (MPA) and focused on the current state of and future outlook for the telecoms, online video and pay TV industries across the six GCC countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“There are a number of factors driving the contraction in 2020 for the video industry, COVID-19 being a key one. However, well before the pandemic the signs of contraction were being felt in the ‘traditional’ video sector,” MPA Vice President Aravind Venugopal told Arab News.

“The FTA (free to air) TV sector and the pay TV sector have been in … decline for several years now as both consumer eyeball and spends, and advertising spends, move online,” he said.

“For consumers, prior to the introduction of SVOD (subscription video on demand) services, pay TV remained the only option for a subscription-based service with access to premium sports, Hollywood content and selected global language-specific content. With VOD the tables have turned, and consumers today have a number of services at their fingertips.”

Despite the negative short-term outlook, there are some positive highlights. The investment made by local SVOD players into creating premium Arabic-language content is impressive, and has helped drive a non-English base into the subscription model for the first time, and away from pay TV and FTA, Venugopal said.

Additionally, one cannot discount the role of broadband — the GCC region has seen stellar improvements in fixed and mobile broadband connectivity in recent years, helping drive growth in online video.

That growth will continue, especially in markets such as Saudi Arabia, where fixed broadband penetration is lower than its regional peers — providing much upside in the long term, Venugopal said.

“We estimate that the TV sector (comprising pay TV subscription, pay TV advertising and FTA advertising) contracted 30 percent in 2020 (versus 2019). However, this was … partially offset by a 26 percent growth in online video (subscription and advertising),” he added.

“What’s key to note here is that the online advertising sector is very much dominated by global majors (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), which accounted for the bulk of the advertising spend, leaving little for domestic / regional players,” he said.

“For regional TV players such as MBC, Rotana, Abu Dhabi Media and others, that drop in traditional incomes hasn’t been offset by digital services just yet, though some are well underway in that journey to reposition themselves.”

One of the biggest impacts on the industry has been the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in a contraction in advertising revenues for the FTA sector of as much as 45 percent compared to 2019.

“I recall when I was in the region in late February / early March and had conversations with folks in the advertising space, the fear of COVID-19 reaching the region appeared … limited and mild. But within a few weeks, things changed drastically,” Venugopal said.

“Advertisers globally have cut budgets in a bid to conserve their cash balances. Separately, new products, product launches etc. have all been put on hold, which impacted advertising spend. A number of players have also reallocated budgets to digital, and in particular affiliate marketing (using e-commerce platforms), all of which has impacted TV.”

For the pay TV industry, the issue has been an increase in customer cancelations or reductions in the size of their subscription package as their income and employment come under pressure.

Looking toward a rebound in the industry in 2022, Venugopal is confident. “I believe a rebound is already underway, though a full correction to reach 2019 ad spend levels for both FTA and pay TV is unlikely in the short term, as well as for pay TV subscription revenue,” he said.

Venugopal estimates that TV advertising will grow at a 3 percent per annum compound over the next five years.

He said Saudi Arabia is an important market as it is home to nearly half the region’s subscribers to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the country will be “a key driver of any advertiser / agency media plan.”


Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing
Updated 4 min 1 sec ago

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing
  • Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units

DUBAI: Deyaar, one of Dubai’s biggest property developers, reported a rise in first quarter profit, the company said in a statement.

The shares rose 0.8 percent in early trade.

The developer that is majority-owned by Dubai Islamic Bank, reported first quarter net profit of 15.1 million dirhams ($4.1 million)  – up from 2.6 million dirhams from the same period last year.
Sales also rose to 149.2 million dirhams, compared to 98.8 million dirhams in 2020.
Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units, Saeed Al-Qatami, its CEO said.
"We expect this demand to grow even more with the economic recovery in the emirate and the effort that the government takes towards executing the Dubai Urban Master Plan 2040,” he said.
Deyaar recently handed over its Bella Rose development in Dubai Science Park. It has 478 residential units and 12 shops.
The company also began construction work on the third and fourth phases of its residential Midtown project in Dubai Production City, where it plans to add 11 more buildings.


Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies
Updated 13 min 52 sec ago

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies
DUBAI: The Qatari cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday that would allow non-Qatari investors to own up to 100 percent of the capital of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, according to a statement on Qatar News Agency.

Should the law be implemented, companies would have to approve increases in foreign ownership on a case-by-case basis, Bloomberg News reported.

Such a change could lead to inflows of about $1.5 billion into listed Qatari companies, with beneficiaries potentially including Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan and Commercial Bank of Qatar, Bloomberg cited investment bank EFG-Hermes as saying.

Foreign ownership of many Qatari companies currently sits way below the 49 percent limit. Qatar General Insurance had 32 percent foreign ownership as of April 14, Gulf Warehousing 30 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar 21 percent, Qatar Stock Exchange data shows.

Saudi Arabia dropped its cap on ownership of publicly traded companies by foreign strategic investors in June 2019, while the UAE said in July of the same year it would allow the emirates to set their own foreign-ownership limits.

Qatar eased rules on foreign property ownership in October last year in an attempt to make the sector more attractive to expatriates, foreign investors and real estate funds.

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision
Updated 10 min 51 sec ago

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision
  • Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s lira traded flat against the dollar on Thursday, ahead of the new central bank governor’s first rate decision, where the bank is expected to maintain its policy rate at 19 percent.
The lira stood at 8.0530 against the dollar at 0647 GMT, near Wednesday’s close of 8.0655. Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor, replacing his predecessor in a shock decision.


Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
Updated 15 April 2021

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
  • Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams
  • The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter

DUBAI: Logistics firm Tristar has dropped plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in Dubai, with sources saying the deal did not attract enough investor demand.
The move, which confirms what the sources had earlier told Reuters, is a setback for Dubai’s bourse, the Dubai Financial Market, which has not seen a big ticket listing since 2017.
The company said “its board and existing shareholders have decided to withdraw its planned initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market as existing shareholders’ expectations were not met.”
“The board and existing shareholders believe that greater returns can be realized executing Tristar’s current growth strategy under the established shareholder structure,” it said.
Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams ($719-$882 million).
The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter. The offering was planned to close on April 15.
Part-owned by Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility, Tristar had previously intended to list in London, but plans were scrapped after turmoil at London-listed health care firm NMC shook investor confidence in Gulf companies.
Tristar said earlier this month it expected to raise between 438 million and 537 million dirhams as part of its primary offering, and another 90 to 240 million from a secondary offering.
BofA Securities and Citigroup were global coordinators and joint bookrunners on the deal.


Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
Updated 15 April 2021

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
  • Targets people who earn SR14,000 or less
  • Subsidized loans first implemented in 2017

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reduced the maximum period of subsidized housing finance from 25 years to 20 years for new applications, 2021, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing said in a circular on Tuesday. The change took effect from April 12.
The ministry said that this decision was "in line with the strategy of the housing program for the second phase, to serve the largest number of target groups,” the Al-Watan newspaper reported.
The subsidized mortgage loan program was first implemented in June 2017.
It provides a real estate loan with up to 100 percent, for those whose salary is SR14,000 or less, with a guarantee (on the amount of the profit margin) of up to SR500,000 of the financing amount.
This program targets Saudi citizens who are on the housing support lists of the Real Estate Development Fund, and who meet the Ministry of Housing conditions.