In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Abdul Hadi Al Sheikh, Executive Director of Abu Dhabi TV, speaks about how the broadcaster is reinventing itself to brace for competition.
In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Abdul Hadi Al Sheikh, Executive Director of Abu Dhabi TV, speaks about how the broadcaster is reinventing itself to brace for competition
There is growing interest in digital media these days. How is Abu Dhabi Media gearing up to be more digitally equipped?
Reflecting the UAE Vision 2021 and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, we aim to strengthen national identity across all our digital operations and utilise our platforms to share the regions stories and accomplishments with the world.
Abu Dhabi Media is dedicated to producing dynamic digital content, and supporting the creation and distribution of Arabic content in particular. The launch of TV.ae highlights our commitment to exploring the most innovative media technologies to enhance the viewing experience. By providing inclusive and accessible content as well as services, the company aims to create highly diversified programming that appeals to every sector of society. TV.ae has attracted more than 1.3 million views since launch last June.
The launch of Majid Kids TV, YAS TV, EDGE TV further demonstrates how Abu Dhabi Media is ensuring that bespoke and engaging programming is combined with the latest technological advances to provide pioneering digital entertainment in the region.
What are some of Abu Dhabi Medias future projects when it comes to digitising content? Will it be easier for audiences to access?
Abu Dhabi Media is forging ahead in its strategic objective to advance its digital content. This progress will allow us to meet growing demands for high-quality video content online. Through securing easy accessibility to our content for audiences throughout the region, we have been able to reinforce our position as one of the fastest growing and most successful multimedia and entertainment organisations in the Middle East.
How is ADM preparing for competition?
Abu Dhabi Media has already adopted a five-year strategy, which includes a two-year goal to transform and modernise the company across its digital and TV platforms. The launch of TV.ae was an important shift for digital media in the UAE as well as the region. The service provides access to more than 6,000 hours of content which can be viewed on multiple mobile devices simultaneously. This is just one example of how Abu Dhabi Media is constantly innovating and seeking strategic partnerships to further develop our media platforms.
Going forward, Abu Dhabi Media will continue to embrace digital media as a fundamental factor to building upon its 27 brands across multiple platforms. Producing powerful and intelligent content remains our key objective. A number of locally produced documentaries, such as the Megastructures episode on the Abu Dhabi Super Tunnel, demonstrate the companys commitment to creating high- quality programmes which highlight the regions accomplishments.
The board of directors has also made impressive structural changes, such as hiring a number of talented Emiratis. This further demonstrates ADMs commitment to having a world-class workforce, with Emiratis at the core, as the company continues to modernise and innovate to further develop its network and brands.
What kind of content is your key differentiator? What’s your strategy to retain your viewership?
In a fast-paced media industry, it is imperative that we align our content with the latest trends and accurately reflect the ongoing development of Abu Dhabi. Our content is therefore differentiated by the emphasis on exclusive content delivery to a vast range of audiences. Our brands are ideally positioned to cater to our Emirati audience, our Arabic-speaking audience, our younger viewers through Majid and our English-speaking audience following our adoption of EDGE HD.
Abu Dhabi Drama TVs recent conversion to HD represents another milestone as we continue to utilise the most innovative technology to further enhance our content and the quality of our programming. By boosting its weekend segments through the introduction of Hollywood movies and top US television series to air alongside pan Arab, Turkish, Mexican and Spanish programmes, we have further widened our reach to ensure Abu Dhabi Drama TV becomes the entertainment destination of choice. Abu Dhabi TV network already has a community of 65 million viewers and is constantly evolving its content to find new ways to further improve its reach.
Any stats to share with us about viewing, ratings and so on?
Abu Dhabi Channel witnessed an increase of 13% in its viewership figures in 2015 compared to 2014. The channel has retained these figures throughout 2016.
The UAE is one of the most engaged countries in the world in terms of social media. To this end, Abu Dhabi Media adopted a clear strategy to utilise its digital media platforms to showcase tailored programming to reach new audiences. As a result, ADM has increased its social media community by 340% during two years to more than 60 million followers, which is the highest for any media organisation in the region. As social media and digital platforms and trends evolve, ADM will continue to evolve its content.
Have you increased investment in content? If yes, by what percentage?
Our sports and entertainment channels have flourished as a result of large investments over the past six years. Our capacity for sports coverage reached a new and exciting phase when Abu Dhabi Sports received exclusive rights to broadcast the European qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
The 2017 Copa Del Rey, and Spanish and Italian Super Cups will also be aired as part of the channels football coverage, while Abu Dhabi Sports also features the fan channels of Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Roma and Juventus. Viewers can also enjoy live matches, and pre- and post-match analysis from the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
In terms of serial content, one of our new series introduced over Ramadan was Ritaj, which has since gained widespread acclaim from our audience and won a number of prestigious industry awards.
The hard-hitting drama series, the first episode of which aired on the first evening of Ramadan 2016, was viewed by 72% of Emiratis and since been watched by more than 48 million people across the Arab world. The official hashtag of the series picked up more than 250 million impressions throughout the month of Ramadan.
Ritaj demonstrates our ongoing commitment to producing compelling content that deals with extremely important contemporary issues facing our society and the world today. We are dedicated to developing our diverse media assets and promoting the UAEs national identity, providing compelling content that reflects the interests and opinions of the wider community.
Viewers can look forward to new and exclusive content throughout 2017. The channel is constantly evolving its content to find new ways to further improve its reach.