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Untapped potential, impactful opportunities- by MMS’s Ahmed Al Sahhaf

Saudi Arabia’s media and entertainment industry present unlocked opportunities for those who are agile and receptive to its developments, writes Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MBC Media Solutions


Rewarding opportunities await those who understand how to navigate Saudi Arabia’s thriving media and entertainment landscape. If we look at Saudi audiences, we will find media-savvy consumers who access content across various platforms. They are heavy TV consumers, recording a monthly reach of 84 per cent of the Saudi population in 2021 – and MBC Group accounts for 48.6 per cent of the TV audience share in the Kingdom according to MBC Group data.

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Saudi and MENA audiences are also enthusiastic consumers of OTT platforms. MBC Group’s OTT service, Shahid, has an average of 9.5 million unique users per month and 25 million during Ramadan in the MENA Region, while Shahid VIP totalled about 2.2 million subscribers in Ramadan 2022. Saudi & MENA audiences are always connected and have notable digital engagement across social media channels. MBC Group platforms alone record high engagement across their 645 accounts and more than 603.8 million followers.

Cross-platform integration

This clearly indicates that viewers in the region, and Saudi in particular, are now engaging with content across multiple platforms and devices, making it imperative for brands who want to amplify their reach to be present simultaneously across these platforms.

MMS, the commercial arm of MBC Group, is no stranger to this. Since our inception, we’ve been delivering cross-platform solutions across MBC Group’s ecosystem and the brands that we represent, such as the Saudi Sports Company and Al Arabiya – enhancing the impact and reach of brand’s marketing efforts and ensuring that they connect with their customers regardless of the platform they’re on.

We’ve seen this with shows like Min Share’ Al Haram Ela and localised international formats like The Voice and Top Chef, which garner high viewership on TV, Shahid and social media, providing brands with an opportunity to enhance their performance through expanded reach.

Relatable content

In addition to understanding how Saudi audiences view their content when planning campaigns and marketing strategies, it is also important to understand what they watch. SahTV and digital measurement tools indicate a clear preference amongst Saudi audiences towards local and regionally produced content that is relatable and aligns with their values and culture. MBC Action’s Action Maa’ Waleed is a good example of this; the Saud produced football series contributed to positioning the channel among the top 10 channels in the country. Series in the comedy and drama genres are also popular in Saudi Arabia. The same is true for OTT platforms, where regional shows like Natihat Al Sahab and Amina Haf top the charts in Ramadan.

High Impact and reach in Ramadan

Being present during Ramadan is also essential for brands that want to achieve high impact and reach. Studies have found that consumers in Saudi Arabia watch more TV during Ramadan than at any other time of the year. The same is true with OTT platforms, which record an increase that is 2.5 times higher than the average of remaining months of the year. This is due to the premium Arabic line-up airing on MBC Group channels during the Holy Month, which also contribute to driving advertising reach, especially during or right after Iftar.

Tailored offerings

This all presents brands, SMEs and government in the Kingdom with valuable opportunities to achieve their desired impact and return on ad investment. Over the past few years, logistics, telcos, consumer packaged goods and government entities have been big investors on TV. We also noticed local businesses and start-ups in the Kingdom gradually increase their TV presence, and we have been working closely with our clients in Saudi Arabia to provide them with solutions that are tailored to their individual needs.

Believing that continuous innovation is key in this market, which is in a constant state of change, our teams across MMS offices in Riyadh, Dubai and Cairo strive to keep on innovating and developing various high-quality new formats across TV, Shahid, digital and radio, as well as flexible brand integration opportunities that push creative boundaries with 3D graphic technologies.

MMS also continuously works on building partnerships to diversify its offerings to clients. Since its inception it has forged partnerships with Al Arabiya and the Saudi Sports Company, becoming the sole commercial representative of each. It also recently partnered with Snapchat and Twitter to make MBC Group’s premium content available on the platforms.

Unlocking opportunities

Saudi Arabia’s media and entertainment industry present unlocked opportunities for those who are agile and receptive to its developments. Saudi audiences are enthusiastic and heavy media consumers, who want relatable content that can be accessed across all platforms. This on its own presents clients with limitless possibilities to capture the attention of audiences and amplify their ads’ reach. Mass reach and high impact can also be achieved through high consumption periods like Ramadan, especially when leveraging the right type of content. We cannot forget the important role that data analytics have in planning for best marketing outcomes; therefore it is essential to keep investing in them and adopting the latest tools out there.

MMS aims to continue providing solutions that help clients untap these opportunities through solutions that rely on content excellence, data-driven thinking and partnership-led solutions.