Ramadan: ‘The Super Bowl of Mideast advertising’

Iraqi actors prepare to perform their roles in ‘The Hotel’ in Baghdad. ‘The Hotel’ is Iraq’s first TV drama in seven years. (AP Photo)
Updated 07 May 2019
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Ramadan: ‘The Super Bowl of Mideast advertising’

  • People spend an average of eight hours a day watching video content during the Muslim Holy Month
  • Investments in digital advertising almost doubled to $63.6 million during Ramadan last year, while advertising on TV increased by 6 percent

LONDON: If the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the US ad calendar, its equivalent in the Arab world is Ramadan, when media consumption — and advertising — spikes.
People spend an average of eight hours a day watching video content during the Muslim Holy Month, while activity on digital video platforms rises by 122 percent, according to a report by advertising agency Spark Foundry in Saudi Arabia.
It found that investments in digital advertising almost doubled to $63.6 million during Ramadan last year, while advertising on TV increased by 6 percent.
“Ramadan, especially in the GCC, always comes with a heavy activity across media touch points,” the report noted.
“Ramadan is considered to be the Super Bowl of the Middle East. Digital usership peaks from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. while TV consumption peaks from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with comedy shows, drama series and game shows taking the lead in content.”
In Iraq, Ramadan viewers will be treated to Iraq’s first TV drama since 2012 — “The Hotel.”
Despite digital advertising having seen the biggest growth in spending during Ramadan, the Middle East’s biggest TV broadcaster MBC Group says it is “bullish” on the market outlook going forward.
The Dubai-based group is airing blockbuster Ramadan productions such as “Al-Asouf 2” (“Wind of Change”) and “Al-Zelzal” (“The Earthquake”) this year.
“The advertising market is currently going through a phase of ‘transformation’,” said Mazen Hayek, MBC Group’s official spokesman.
“MBC remains committed to investing in and offering the best available premium content that’s acclaimed and watched by millions of Arabs across MENA, during Ramadan and beyond. In sum, we’re bullish and optimistic about the future.”


Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

Updated 18 July 2019
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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

  • India is among the last big growth markets for the company
  • Netflix faces competition from Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar
Netflix said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.
India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co’s India unit.
Netflix lost US streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.
“India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the Internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.
The creator of “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee ($3.63) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.
The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings’ global expansion plans.
“We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business,” the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.
Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).
It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller “Sacred Games” and dystopian tale “Leila,” which feature popular Bollywood actors.
The second season of “Sacred Games” is set to release in August.
In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc’s HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.
“We’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we’re in it for the long haul,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.