Dubai: Children in the Gulf are not too particular about where they want to watch their shows or cartoons. And that’s just fine as far as content providers and regional broadcasters are concerned.

“Content is the king — not the device,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President and Managing Director for the southern and western Europe, Middle East and Africa territory at Viacom International Media Networks and the owner of TV channels such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV. “Our data shows that more than 44 per cent of content consumption by kids in Mena [Middle East and North Africa] is on a computer, tablet or phone. However, what we have found is that non-linear consumption (any platform other than TV) is not a threat to linear TV, but rather a complementary cycle.

“In fact, pay-TV subscribers using our apps are expanding the viewing ecosystem by viewing more content — on both linear and mobile — and, ultimately, extracting more value from their subscription.

“Pay TV market continues growing across the world and (it’s) thanks to this we see important opportunities to launch new brands in the region.”

In fact, this region continues to show overall gains in the time spent glued to watching the TV. Latest research indicates that pay-TV penetration could touch 19 per cent by 2019 from the 15 per cent in 2013. This is quite a stark contrast to how viewers in the US and western Europe take in their daily news and entertainment quota.

“Average TV consumption is on the rise (in this region) ... for example, in Saudi Arabia the average in 2015 was 6:42 minutes, plus 13 minutes compared to 2014, which is great growth in the space of a year,” said Annecchino.

“Mena is a key market for Viacom, we’ve invested heavily in the region over the last two years. At this point in time we feel we’re in a strong position.

“We have already developed and own multi-platform products that provide access to TV content online. Our latest suite of apps, PlayPlex, provides a platform for each of our six core brands that include a live linear channel, access to a library of VOD (video on demand) content, and short form content and games, depending on the brand.

“Market by market we can offer stand-alone solutions or more opportunities to services providers.”

For content owners, there is never a better time than the present. As opposed to just selling these rights to one regional satellite TV broadcaster, they can now offer up packages to telcos or web-TV providers for each market or set of markets. The spread of web-TV has created endless possibilities in the way these rights get sold. And any broadcaster wanting to get in exclusive rights with the content owner will have to pay a significant premium.

“For a content producer like us, all the new platforms are a great opportunity to engage even more with our viewers,” said Annecchino. “Certainly more competition in the broadcast market creates favourable conditions for content providers.

“We produce a massive hours of content per year, investing as company more than 4 billion per year. So giving our viewers the possibility to consume our content where they want, when the want and how they want is our first mission. Clearly, with the adequate business model.”