Streaming is becoming a big business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Qatar-based Ooredoo wants a piece of the action.

Nick Wood

March 5, 2024

3 Min Read

The telco has launched Go Play Market, an over-the-top (OTT) service offering a combination of live channels and streaming video-on-demand (SVoD). It has rolled out in six of its group markets – Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Maldives.

"Our goal is to establish a comprehensive entertainment hub, tailored to meet the diverse preferences of our customers, as well as non-Ooredoo subscribers, across multiple markets," said Ooredoo CEO Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo.

There is no word on pricing, specific content deals or plans to produce original shows, just that a "wide range" of entertainment options "from various digital players and content partners" are available, Ooredoo said.

Despite being limited to just six markets, was able to download the Go Play Market app from Google Play, create an account and access content all without entering any payment information, so it seems the service – for now, at least – is free. No ads were served during the brief encounter with the app either.

The app hosts live news from Al Jazeera and Russia Today in various languages; sports; and a library of on-demand films and TV shows.

Ooredoo has partnered with streaming platform provider MediaKind to provide the tech, and the whole thing runs on Microsoft's cloud infrastructure.

"We are proud to leverage our cloud native MediaFirst and Aquila live streaming platforms to create cutting-edge entertainment services matching Ooredoo's market ambitions for the region," said MediaKind CEO Allen Broome. "By leveraging Microsoft Azure's robust cloud capabilities, we are bringing a diverse range of content and live TV experiences and are launching a service in record time to audiences across multiple countries."

With Ooredoo relying on partners to do the heavy lifting, and offering the app at seemingly no charge, Go Play Market seems like a bit of lightweight offering in a regional streaming market that includes some of the world's heavy hitters.

Netflix is currently MENA's biggest streaming provider, according to Digital TV Research, boasting 7.6 million customers at the end of 2022. That same year, Disney+ launched in 16 MENA markets, quickly signing up 1.1 million subscribers, not too far behind Amazon, which had just shy of 2 million.

By 2027, the research firm expects Netflix will still be out in front with 11 million, followed by Disney+ and Amazon with 6.5 million and 4.8 million respectively.

In terms of revenue, Digital TV Research expects MENA OTT video to generate revenues of $5.69 billion by 2028, double the $2.83 billion generated in 2022. SVoD and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) are expected to account for the lion's share – $3.82 billion and $1.55 billion respectively.

The number of subscribers is also expected to double over the forecast period to 42 million.

As long as Go Play Market continues to be available for free – including to non-subscribers – then it is hard to see the value it brings to Ooredoo. It's not even dressed in Ooredoo's red-and-white branding.

That might not matter too much when the size of MENA's streaming market is expected to double, but by the time it is saturated, the chances of Ooredoo successfully monetising Go Play Market could be decidedly slim.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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