An overview of TV viewership in the past year and whats in store for the year ahead Its been a year! Not just a year of my columns in BroadcastPro ME (leather-bound collected editions available for that perfect Christmas gift) but a year and a bit of a full audience measurement in the UAE. A […]
Its been a year! Not just a year of my columns in BroadcastPro ME (leather-bound collected editions available for that perfect Christmas gift) but a year and a bit of a full audience measurement in the UAE.
A good time then to look at what we know, now that we have tviews annual report covering the first year from October 2012 to September 2013. We discovered some surprising facts while researching the TV industry.
The devil is in the detail. If all we wanted to know was the top channels and programmes, then to be honest, we wouldnt need granular electronic measurement, but its the little insights that are often fascinating and confounding at the same time.
Top channel MBC 1
MBC is, without a doubt, the dominant network, and more often than not, sits in the top five or six positions.
The 8pm to 9pm time slot on MBC 1 usually a Turkish drama is the most watched segment on the channel, averaging 67,000 Arab viewers, which may surprise some, given the assumption of later prime-time viewing habits in the region.
But looking at the channel viewing overall, we get a picture not of channel loyalty, but a much wider and shallower pattern, one that applies to most entertainment channels.
Table 1 shows the consumption profile of everyone who watched MBC 1 in the year. The first column, just under 70%, is less than 48 hours, which means that seven in every 10 MBC 1 viewers watched on average, less than one hour per week across the year. On the other hand, 16% of viewers watched more than 144 hours, equivalent to six non-stop days of viewing.
As Ive said many times in these pages, viewers want programmes, not channels. They came, they saw, they switched.
Top programme Arab Idol
Yet another triumph for this format, which suggests that the regional reality spin-offs have plenty of life left in them, as we enter the second and third seasons.
I wrote about the final episode at the time so I wont repeat it in detail, but it is worth noting that the peak moment of the final episode attracted more than 410,000 Arab viewers. That represents about two in every three people viewing at that time, although it is just under 15% of the total Arab audience.
Tying in with the previous point about programmes and channel loyalty on an average, viewers of Arab Idol watched 67 minutes of each show from March through to June, making it an incredibly popular programme with a very high loyalty factor.
The next top programme and the only challenger was the final of the Gulf Cup, where the UAE defeated Iraq. At peak time, it got more than 300,000 viewers and averaged more than 250,000 throughout the game, which is extraordinary for a programme of several hours duration.
Abu Dhabi Sport channel captured most of the viewing, even though it was simulcast on Dubai and Sharjah TV. But a surprising detail about those figures was that the maximum viewing was in Sharjah with 28%, followed by Abu Dhabi (24%), Al Ain (18%), Ajman (14%) and Dubai (12%).
Again, this is something weve covered at the time, at least in terms of the top programmes, but I think there are some key points to note about Ramadan.
Firstly, when you look at Ramadan programmes compared to the overall programmes, there arent that many in the top 20. In fact, the top Ramadan show, Etr Al Gannah, comes in at number 12 for the year.
Secondly, there isnt actually a whole load of extra viewing in Ramadan, which may explain why those shows dont dominate the year, given the far more competitive environment.
Table 2 shows the average viewing throughout the day for Arabs and Asians during Ramadan compared to the rest of the year.
Clearly, there is a shift in viewing to the evening, and also note the rise in afternoon viewing, which is widely underestimated in this market. But overall, Arabs view just an extra 10 minutes per day in Ramadan and South Asians about 25 minutes. Theres only so much time in the day to watch TV and in this region, we do a lot of it anyway.
There are many other areas we could look at, but I will finish on the commercial side and the top advertisers.
In this area the surprising detail is not that Pepsi and Lulu are the top advertisers, but that they advertise almost exclusively to an Arab or Asian market.
While Pepsi tops the charts in Arab households, Lulu is topmost in Asian households, followed by Malabar Gold. These might as well be the ratings in two completely different countries. Some things are easily explained certain products and services like money exchange are of more interest to one group, and thats perfectly normal for advertising.
But when it comes to supermarkets, food and beverages, snacks and telcos, I have yet to hear a sensible explanation to explain the almost complete divergence of advertising in the UAE.
Whats in store for 2014?
To finish, Ill put my end of year hopes out and look forward to someone filling my stocking.
I hope that two things will have happened by this time next year.
Firstly, the key stakeholders who have not yet started working with accurate and transparent data in the UAE will be on board in a cooperative industry group, and secondly, Saudi Arabia will be well underway with its own people meter system.
Those two things will be game-changers for everyone.