The latest television audience figures for more than five million viewers across the UAE were revealed at CABSAT 2022, courtesy of new research from Mena.tv.
Unveiled at one of the Middle East and Africa’s most important event for the satellite, broadcast, and filmed content industries, the research provides viewing data – including demographic breakdowns by age, nationality, and more – for 1.1 million UAE households dating back two years and across more than 600 channels on the E-Vision network.
“For more than 20 years, we have been sitting with no data, reliant on phone calls and asking: ‘What did you watch last night?’” said Nick Grande, founder and CEO of Mena.TV. “Now we know. Now we have real data for the first time for more than half the population of the UAE. I find it almost unbelievable that we are finally at this stage.”
Presenting the new platform, which is updated daily and accessible at index.mena.tv, Tassabih Hassan from ChannelSculptor provided a glimpse of the data available, including a breakdown of how people are watching (43 per cent use TV and streaming), when people are watching (10pm is peak viewing time), the most popular genre of TV show (comedy), genre growth (crime is on the rise), and the most-watched TV channels and shows during Ramadan across various key markets.
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“What we saw in Ramadan was an 80 per cent increase in the total viewing hours by an Arab audience, of which Gulf Arabs remain the core,” said Hassan. “Looking deeper into the daily average minute-by-minute viewings, not only have those numbers almost doubled, but the audience has also surged by almost five times at prime time when compared to average viewing hours across the year.”
CABSAT lifts the curtain on Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning broadcast industry
On the final morning of the three-day event at Dubai World Trade Centre, CABSAT also saw the unveiling of another new platform that aims to measure at home video and content consumption in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A partnership between the Media Rating Company and data specialists Nielson will start by looking at satellite and OTT, with the aim of expanding into gaming, podcasts, radio, and print.
“What we are building as a TV and video measurement solution in Saudi Arabia is truly unique; the only other country in the world who are doing anything similar is Denmark,” said Sarah Messer, Managing Director, Nielsen Media MENAP. “We are bringing the latest in metering technology by the way of nano people meters, a device that is integrated to TV that gives us a constant, second-by-second feed of viewing activity on every TV set. It’s a simple design, but what is very exciting is the introduction of a streaming meter that will take our measurements into a realm that other countries are trying to catch up to. Not only are we measuring linear TV viewing, but the streaming meter gives us insight on streamed content.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s media sector is valued at US$4.4 billion, positioning the country as the market leader in the Arab world in terms of media consumption. Followed by the UAE, which is worth roughly US$2.7b, Saudi’s ever-growing content consumption is aligned with four key factors, said Hadi Hammoud, a partner at AT Kearney: prominently developing technology, content-hungry consumers, being at the forefront of content consumption, and the provision of good quality local content.
“Vision 2030 has played a role in enabling the media, which can help realise Vision 2030 by increasing the entertainment options, especially in terms of diversity and help protect national heritage by increasing locally produced content,” he said. “The ability of the media to highlight the country’s achievements, as well as the work being put behind Vision 2030, will help alleviate the image of the Kingdom.”
Meanwhile, Dr Khulud Abu Homos, CEO and founder of Art Format Lab, stressed the importance of identifying gaps in locally produced content and finding creative ways to bridge them. “We must not follow any other international movie and entertainment industry, but rather create our own trends,” she said. “As a region, we should encourage our local writers and content producers to create local content that does not imitate the content produced internationally but instead explores regional and local interests that would draw the audience’s attention.”
NextUp Stage Focuses on Entrepreneurs and Space
CABSAT’s new NextUp Stage featured an array of specialists from different fields of the sector. Mashal Waqar, managing director of Milestone Ventures, was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 and named as an Achieving Woman by Entrepreneur Middle East provided her insights on the mentality required to succeed.
“In order to see visible results, one must be willing to give the time and patience to their strategy and its implementation,” she said. “I’ve always followed the ‘fail fast’ rule: I would rather fail multiple times trying different methods to achieve a goal than make the same mistake again. I believe that is the kind of mentality most entrepreneurs have.”
Dr Bidushi Bhattacharya, co-founder of AstroHub and a former NASA scientist, highlighted the space sector’s hunt for fresh talent. “To be a part of the space sector, you would not need to have a degree in science, physics or astronomy,” she said, adding that a trip to space could cost as little as a first-class international flight within just two decades. “The sector is more than willing to train young professionals and I would encourage everyone to assess which area they could fit in.”
The next edition of CABSAT will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre between May 10-12 2023.