By David Spencer, Commercial Director MENA, FreeWheel
Video consumption is strong in the MENA region, with four in 10 consumers watching online video on a daily basis. And viewing is likely to increase, driven by a large youth population and rapid improvements in connectivity. With associated video ad revenues on the rise – expected to surge 22-35% annually until 2021 – this appears to be a positive situation for media owners, but it also brings a number of challenges.
Traditional broadcasters and publishers face ongoing fragmentation of video viewing, with the emergence of multiple streaming platforms delivering on-demand content as well as intense competition from of born-digital players. There is also fragmentation across devices with 75% of UAE consumers using their smartphones for daily video consumption.
All infographics are courtesy of GO-Gulf , a Dubai based custom web development company
Many media companies are diversifying their own TV offering, exploring options such as digital broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) platforms incorporating programmatic advertising. But for some, mainly less premium players, these changes to the digital advertising ecosystem can mean they are left vulnerable to quality issues around fraud, viewability and brand safety.
While the linear TV landscape still features predominantly free-to-air and ad-funded content, pay TV channels are emerging. Satellite broadcasting has seen recent accelerated growth towards Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) delivered via the internet, with IPTV homes expected to grow three times as fast as satellite homes, increasing further the digitalisation of video consumption. But this trend varies across the region, for instance, satellite broadcasting is still dominant in Saudi Arabia whereas the UAE is adopting digital much faster.
Against this backdrop of fragmentation, complexity, and competition, FreeWheel, a Comcast company, is looking to work with premium video players throughout the MENA region – including broadcasters, media groups, and publishers – to optimise the value of their inventory across all sales channels, screens, formats, data sets and transaction types. By bringing together the best of digital video and linear TV in a convergent marketplace, built on the three pillars of trust, transparency, and brand safety, FreeWheel looks to help media companies break down the existing silos of TV and digital video and generate demand.
Drawing on experience from the US and European markets, FreeWheel aims to encourage collaboration and cooperation between broadcasters and publishers, unifying inventory and audiences to deliver the high-quality scale advertisers demand. Through collaboration, media companies can increase yields, which can be reinvested into production and distribution of quality video content.
In a dynamic and rapidly expanding market FreeWheel is excited to accelerate the convergence of linear TV and premium digital video in MENA, providing media owners with a variety of solutions for video content monetisation and allowing media companies to compete across different markets, formats and media.