Video kills the radio star as more in Saudi Arabia, UAE turn to streaming

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs during a 2014 concert in Abu Dhabi. More people are turning toward streaming of music and video content in the UAE and Saudi as radio stations come under pressure according to a new survey. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2018
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Video kills the radio star as more in Saudi Arabia, UAE turn to streaming

LONDON: An increasing number of listeners in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are turning off their radios and logging on to stream their music and videos instead, according to a new YouGov Omnibus survey.
Almost a third of those surveyed said they have increased the frequency with which they listen to music via online streaming services compared to 12 months ago.
The shift to online is placing pressure on conventional radio stations to “diversify to maintain consumer engagement in future,” said Kerry McLaren, head of Omnibus Research, in a statement.
A third of consumers in Saudi Arabia claimed to listen to the radio less than they did 12 months ago, while 28 percent of UAE listeners said they were tuning in less, according to the survey.
“Kids still listen to radio when in the car. Other than that we mostly stream content (podcasts, audiobooks, videos, music),” one Abu Dhabi-based dad tweeted Arab News.
Dubai-based blogger Hind Mezaina told Arab News she preferred to stream content because the English-speaking radio stations in the UAE lacked diversity.
“I’d like to listen to the radio but it’s the same old music and the five new songs on all channels. DJs that are mostly white and pretend only white people live here/listen to them,” she said, adding that topics being discussed are often “dumbed down.”
Satish Mayya, CEO at the Dubai-based media buyer BPG Maxus, said that radio stations are already rising to meet the challenge of increased streaming activity.
“Big radio networks had already started developing their own online streaming platforms in an effort to capture migrating audience,” he said, adding that the trend has yet to dramatically affect advertising strategies.
“Radio is still widely used by brands across categories for tactical and promotional campaigns and even sometimes to support new launches,” he said.
Raed Zidan, co-owner of Shock Middle East which owns the UAE’s first dance music station Dance FM 97.8, is also optimistic about the future of radio in the UAE.
“The UAE has one of the highest listenerships in the world as people spend more time than the average compared to other countries in their cars.
“Typically where radio compete against streaming is by offering shows like Breakfast and Drive as people head and come back from their work, those shows are typically entertaining and offer lots of information about what's going on in the city and the country they live in,” he said.
The YouGov survey also found that a third of those surveyed said they were streaming more video content than they did a year before. Around 29 percent across both countries said they watched videos on platforms that did not require payment or a subscription.
Demand for streamed movie content is growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia. The subscriber base of Star Playz, a streaming site, has been doubling every six months since it launched two and a half years ago in the Kingdom, according to co-founder Danny Bates.
“Our highest content consumption rates per month are coming from Saudi customers,” he told Arab News last month. He added that action and comedy were the most popular genres among subscribers in the Kingdom.


Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

Updated 20 October 2018
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Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

  • The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers
  • The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size

BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will charge hardware firms up to $40 per device to use its apps under a new licensing system to replace one that the European Union this year deemed anti-competitive, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The new fee goes into effect on Oct. 29 for any new smartphone or tablet models launched in the European Economic Area and running Google’s Android operating system, the company announced on Tuesday.
The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size, the person said. It is standard across manufacturers, with the majority likely to pay around $20, the person added.
Companies can offset the charge, which applies to a suite of apps including the Google Play app store, Gmail and Google Maps, by placing Google’s search and Chrome Internet browser in a prominent position. Under that arrangement, Google would give the device maker a portion of ad revenue it generates through search and Chrome.
Tech news outlet the Verge reported the pricing earlier on Friday, citing confidential documents.
The European Commission in July found Google abused its market dominance in mobile software to essentially force Android partners to pre-install search and Chrome on their gadgets. It levied a record $5-billion fine, which Google has appealed, and threatened additional penalties unless the company ended its illegal practices.
The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers to become the default apps for search and browsing, analysts said.
Qwant, a small French search company that has been critical of Google, said in a statement on Friday that it was “satisfied that the European Commission’s action pushed Google to finally give manufacturers the possibility to offer such choices to consumers.”