Are you for real? Reality TV grabs top spot in UAE ratings battle
The winner of the highly-popular reality TV show Arab Idol. (Image: Twitter)
Reality TV riles the roost in the UAE just as surely as it does in some of the world's biggest television markets, new figures from the country's highest profile TV ratings system have revealed.
The first annual results produced by tview - the first ratings system that relies on audience meters attached to TV sets rather than asking viewers to remember their viewing habits - showed that talent show Arab Idol was the show of the year.
This year’s contest, won by popular Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, had the highest audience share of any show and bagged an impressive 410,000 viewers for the dramatic series finale.
And, perhaps surprisingly, the data gathered by the tview system - implemented by the Emirates Media Measurement Company (EMMC) - shows that 53 per cent of the viewers of the show in the UAE are men.
Other viewing highlights over the past 12 months have been the Gulf Cup final - where a dramatic victory by the UAE football team led to the year’s highest rated sport programme.
But beyond the curiosities of our viewing habits thrown up by such data, EMMC general manager Chris O’Hearn says the accuracy of the stats provided by the audience meter system should spark a revolution in the way advertisers use television. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake,” he told 7DAYS after revealing the new audience figures.
Some major media groups have been slow to embrace the new technology, but O’Hearn is optimistic that they will ultimately come aboard.
The attraction of people meters is that they record the kind of viewing habits - like changing channels during long-ad breaks - that won’t show up if audience members are merely asked about their night in front of the box.
That identifies promising trends for advertisers.
O’Hearn says data showing a spike in mid-afternoon viewing after government workers and school children return home may prove this time of day is undervalued by advertisers.
But at the moment much of the region is till relying on audience measurement systems that don’t provide such nuanced measurements.
“In the US, no-one asks ‘what is the No. l channel?’ - they ask ‘what is the No.1 channel for women between 25 and 45’,” says O’Hearn.
YOUR VIEWING PLEASURES
>> Most watched channel - MBC 1: And 16 per cent of the channel’s viewers watch it for the equivalent of six days a year
>> Most watched TV show - Arab Idol: More than half of its viewers are men
>> Most watched sport - Gulf Cup: More than 300,000 watched the UAE triumph
>> Most watched Hollywood film - Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part 1 proved popular
>> Most watched Asian film - Ustad Hotel: This screened in the UAE on January 1
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