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Middle East TV viewer numbers just keep adding up

But advertisers believe web TV can offer subtle differences for campaigns

Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
Gulf News

Dubai: The region’s committed TV viewers do not stray far away from their sets. In fact, they consume 7.5 hours of TV content each day ... one of the highest in the world.

“Sales of flat panel TVs are at an all-time high is also proof enough of how TV viewership is still in vogue,” said Sumo Dutta, country head at Star Middle East Middle East, Africa and Pakistan. “TV is still the key medium to deliver top quality content and ‘appointment viewing’ to key programmes happens only on TV.

“Viewing content on new media/screens is akin to snacking, while appointment viewing with the family is the main meal ... which happens on TV. The staple diet of viewership satisfaction is still derived from the TV.”

According to industry estimates, pay TV subscriber numbers in the Middle East and North Africa went past 10 million in the first quarter of 2012 and expected to soar to 15.8 million by end 2017, which is a 20 per cent penetration of TV households in this territory. (The number of TV households was 94.5 million at the end of last year.)

“The ‘core’ Mena countries will account for 38 per cent of the [pay TV subscriber] total, equivalent to six million subscribers,” said Dutta. “TV is, and will remain, the medium of choice to deliver and enjoy compelling content.

“As TV broadcasters, it’s a great time for content producers as multiple sources of viewing the content are opening up. With the rise of all things digital, audiences have only grown on TV with new media being a superb marketing tool to drive viewership to TV for the main show.”

Dutta’s premise that web TV does not represent a new ecosystem but a value-add to conventional TV viewing does hold up. But advertisers and agencies are keenly aware that there needs to be a tweaking of the marketing ploys.

According to Ashish Gupta, associate director for digital at BPG Maxus, “Web TV providers and opportunities are being viewed pretty seriously, and I believe the success of YouTube pre-roll and mid-roll ads are proof of the fact. The possibilities web TV offers advertisers has changed the definition of TV commercials completely.

“It gives an opportunity to reach viewers based on their behaviour and preferences, not to mention engage with them in a way traditional TV cannot. Web TV offers focused targeting versus traditional TV’s wider reach with a much larger audience. Some have already begun combining their TV and Internet TV campaigns to deliver a trans-medium experience to their targets.”

But Dutta at Star insists that acceptance of web TV does not mean an impact on TV ad rates. “Content consumption and viewership is growing exponentially across media,” he added. “However, as viewers also watch the TV content online, there will be a rate card for the additional viewers.

“It’s a bit like eating out; while there are more and more restaurants prompting customers to step out, home delivery is also on the rise. “Television has been the main medium for holding public opinion for decades, it’s revolutionised the entertainment industry and how we communicate with viewers. Online will only add to the viewer universe.”