GCC appetite for video-on-demand shows no signs of slowing

16 February 2023 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read
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Even as video-on-demand suffers drops in subscriptions across much of the world, numbers are growing in the GCC. On average, consumers in the region currently have access to three streaming services, while fewer than two-in-ten people are subscribed to no streaming provider at all.

For longer than a decade, streaming has been talked about as ‘the future’ of video-entertainment. Early video-on-demand (VOD) market leaders Netflix and Amazon Prime saw rapid success with subscription-based models, which would deliver an almost limitless number of films and series to consumers instantly.

But the last year has seen the video-on-demand boom finally grind to a halt. Recent polling from Accenture found that only 18% of consumers around the world intended to grow their subscription spending in the coming year. In contrast, 38% will cut back – with a worrying 15% saying they will “greatly decrease” the amount they spend on subscriptions.

People with at least one video-on-demand service

Even as ‘subscription fatigue’ continues to worry video-on-demand providers – to the extent Netflix has finally taken action to crack down on password sharing – however, no such phenomenon is impacting the Gulf markets.

A new study from Oliver Wyman has found that on average, people in the GCC have access to three video-on-demand streaming services – and their appetite is growing. Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting, with offices in more than 70 cities across 30 countries.

Surveying consumers across the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the firm found that UAE consumers have access to the highest number of video-on-demand services per person on average, at 3.1. This was followed by Saudi Arabia at 3.0 and Kuwait on 2.5.

Rogerio Dienes, Lead of Oliver Wyman’s Communications, Media and Technology vertical in the Middle East, India and Africa, noted, “The GCC having a globally high rate of video-on-demand subscriptions does not come as a surprise considering the region has one of the highest penetrations of internet users in the world.”

Video-on-demand services include those such as Netflix, Shahid, Amazon Prime, and YouTube Premium. Of those, 60% of UAE respondents said they had access to at least two services – while just 12% of respondents did not access any services at all. Similarly, only 22% of those in Kuwait and 20% of those in Saudi Arabia did not access any video-on-demand platforms.

GCC primed for growth

Across the whole region, GCC consumers accessed the second highest number of video-on-demand services per person, with an average of 2.9. This is only behind the United States, where each person has on average 4.7 subscriptions.

Importantly, though, while US appetites seem to be fading – with only 29% of consumers considering adding a new service in 2023 – the GCC looks to have much higher growth potential. A 75% majority of respondents in the GCC said they expect to increase the number of video-on-demand streaming services they access.

Dienes added, “The finding that GCC consumers are more likely to increase the number of video-on-demand subscriptions compared to other regions is in part connected to the fact that consumers here are facing less inflationary pressures on their wallets compared to those in other parts of the world.”

Within the GCC, respondents in Saudi Arabia showed the highest appetite for growth in subscriptions, with 80% stating that they are likely to increase the number of video streaming services that they access.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that under 25s were the age group most likely to increase their access to subscriptions. Despite having the lowest income bracket, the group is generally touted as the first movers in any ‘shift to digital’, so their enthusiasm suggests a broader shift is on the horizon for video-on-demand providers in the GCC.