IPTV is expected overtake cable TV in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by 2016, according to research from U.K. firm Digital TV Research, which covered the "16 most advanced countries in MENA, representing 67 million households."
Turkey and Egypt will lead the way with the most subscribers and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will have the highest penetration, followed by Qatar and Cyprus, according to the research, which was reported in IPTV News.
A bit farther south in the region, South African telco MTN said it could launch a commercial IPTV service either in 2013 or early 2014 and is already running limited customer trials.
"We have been experimenting for a long time with IPTV and content in all its forms and shapes. We have a new platform where we are doing limited customer trials," MTN Managing Director Karel Pienaar told the publication. "MTN is absolutely there, but it's not something you rush into. We are experimenting with dozens of different options. Depending on how successful the trials are, we would like to bring IPTV to market this year already."
It's part of a trend that will result in IPTV revenues more than quadrupling between 2012 and 2018 to hit the $644 million mark, Digital TV Research said.
There's a lot of room to grow. Fewer than 15 percent of TV households in the MENA region currently subscribe to pay TV, but this is expected to grow to 21 percent by 2018, thanks not only to more players entering the market but because "operators, content providers and governments [will] crack down on piracy," the IPTV News story said.
Thanks to the crackdown, overall pay TV revenues are predicted to grow by more than 42 percent and reach $4.76 billion by 2018.
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