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

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.


Chinese TV pulls Arsenal match after Ozil’s Uighur comments

Updated 15 December 2019

Chinese TV pulls Arsenal match after Ozil’s Uighur comments

BEIJING: Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has pulled a game between Arsenal and Manchester City from its program after the Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Ozil, a German of Turkish origin, condemned China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities in the western region in a tweet on Friday, while criticizing Muslim countries for failing to speak up against abuses.
Sunday’s Premier League game in London between Arsenal and Manchester City was initially scheduled to be broadcast live by CCTV’s sports channel shortly after midnight on Monday, according to a schedule published earlier on the league’s official Weibo account.
However, by Sunday CCTV replaced the match on its schedule with a pre-recorded game between Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“Qur'ans are being burnt... Mosques are being shut down ... Muslim schools are being banned ... Religious scholars are being killed one by one ... Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account Friday.
“The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard,” he wrote on a background of a blue field with a white crescent moon, the flag of what Uighur separatists call East Turkestan.
China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.
Rights groups and experts say more than one million Uighurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly controlled region.
After initially denying the camps existed, China now describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence.
Arsenal on Saturday distanced itself from Ozil’s comments, saying it has “always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”
Ozil’s comments drew anger online, with some users on Weibo calling for a ban on his games.
Nationalist tabloid Global Times called Ozil’s comments “false” and said in a tweet on Sunday that he had “disappointed Chinese fans and football governing authorities.”
The cancelation prompted further criticism of Ozil, including from Arsenal fans.
“If it hadn’t been for Arsenal’s Ozil making trouble out of nothing, would the broadcast of the entire team’s match have been blocked in China?” one user asked on Sunday.
“(Ozil) published inappropriate comments on foreign social media that would greatly hurt the feelings of Chinese fans,” another user said.
Arsenal is the latest foreign team to face the ire of Chinese broadcasters and audiences due to a player’s political stance.
The NBA in October sparked a backlash in China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
In response, CCTV canceled its broadcasts of two NBA pre-season games in China, and the Rockets have been absent from CCTV and Internet giant Tencent’s programming schedule so far this season.