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of satellite TV also amongst younger TV
audiences in MENA .
Arabsat announced the surprise departure
in September 2021 of its president and CEO
Khalid Balkheyour , who resigned from the
Saudi Arabia-based satellite operator . His
replacement is former CTO Badr Al-Suwaidan .
Balkheyour had been in post since 2003 –
when Arabsat had just one satellite - and had
managed the business through the nightmare
of the beIN Sports piracy scandal when
Arabsat ’ s frequencies were used by pirates
at beoutQ . Balkheyour had also supervised
the acquisition of HellasSat and expanded
Arabsat ’ s influence well beyond the MENA
region .
STRENGTH : Meanwhile , the strength
and importance of satellite-delivered TV
also emerged , and this despite alternate
entertainment sources . For example , the
GCC also has one of the highest mobile
phone penetrations in the world and this
has led to streaming services gaining greater
traction as a secondary entertainment service
amongst the younger audience . The uptake
of these SVoD services and IPTV , however ,
continues to remain relatively small compared
to satellite penetration in the entire MENA
region .
Data from Digital TV Research says that
some 15m SVoD subscribers will take a service
by 2026 with Netflix dominating the many
choices . Simon Murray , principal analyst at
Digital TV Research , said : “ Although overall
subscriber numbers will climb impressively ,
there are just too many Arabic platforms . We
do not believe that the market can sustain this
many Arabic platforms as few of them offer
much original or exclusive content .”
Arabsat ’ s coverage spans more than
100 countries and tens of millions of
“ Integrating broadcast distribution in MENA has enabled us to leverage our strong position .” - Rodolphe Belmer , Eutelsat
homes covering
the majority of
the Middle East ,
Africa , Europe ,
and Central Asia .
True to its mission
of connecting Arab
societies and the
world by providing
reliable telecommunication services , Arabsat offers more than 600 TV channels and 250 radio stations . Arabsat ’ s video ‘ hotspot ’ at 26 degrees E caters to more than 300m viewers in the MENA region alone . The hotspot transmits more than 50 % of its TV channels in HD and even a few in 4K format . LEADERSHIP : Arabsat also enjoys leadership status in several other markets within the MENA region . For instance , the satellite operator leads in Iran ’ s broadcast space . The satellite operator has access to 97 % of the Iranian TV market , which totals to around 22.34m satelliteconnected homes .
North African countries too have an impressive uptake of Arabsat channels , with 50 % of them watching channels via Arabsat . The satellite operator already reaches 9.5m TV homes in these regions . In both Djibouti and Mauritania , Arabsat dominates , and caters the majority of the satellite-connected homes , with 98 % of Djibouti and 91 % of Mauritania . In fact , the operator serves 34 % of 95,000 satellite homes exclusively in Djibouti , and 30 % of 740,000 satellite
homes exclusively in Mauritania . In Algeria too , Arabsat penetrates the market with 68 % of the satellite homes , which means around 4.8m of these households enjoy the Arabsat TV neighbourhood . HD : High-definition is also growing in importance both for viewers and broadcasters . Research shows 75 % of TV sets in the MENA region are flatscreen TVs . Some 58 % of TVs in the MENA region support HD . Additionally , 6 % of TVs in the region are in 4K format while at least 36 % of homes have smart TVs .
Arabsat is also looking to future developments and ordered Badr-8 , the first of its latest 7th generation craft , in August 2020 . Airbus Defence & Space is building the craft which will be ready for launch early in 2023 .
Badr-8 will be a state-of-the-art Airbus Eurostar Neo electric orbit raising platform giving access to a wide range of launchers , covering Europe , Middle East , Africa and central Asia . It will also include the innovative Airbus developed TELEO optical communications payload demonstrator . This payload will enable very high-capacity analogue optical feeder link communications , as part of the development by Airbus of a new generation of optical communications technology in space to be integrated in its future commercial products , which is highly robust against jamming . POPULAR . Which is not to say that Arabsat has everything its own way . The Nilesat and Eutelsat combo at 7 degrees-8 degrees West remains extremely popular in Egypt , for example . However , quite how long this linked working relationship will continue is a major question . Back in February 2021 , Eutelsat ’ s CEO Rodolphe Belmer was blunt , saying that Eutelsat was considering taking back some of Nilesat ’ s capacity once the existing contract ends . The contract was due for re-signing around July 2021 . As of October 2021 , the Nilesat + Eutelsat contract renewal was still being discussed .
“ As you know , we decided to acquire a few years ago our main distributor in the MENA region called Noorsat . And we think it was really for the good of the company [ and ] integrating the distribution of the broadcast