x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Reality shows such as Arabs Got Talent driving growth of region's TV industry

Talent contests now rank among the most popular shows in the Middle East, spelling big business for local broadcasters, who have invested millions of dollars on regional versions of these global TV formats.

Reality shows such as Arabs Got Talent form a growing part of the Arab world's Dh9 billion TV industry.

Talent contests now rank among the most popular shows in the Middle East, spelling big business for local broadcasters, who have invested millions of dollars on regional versions of these global TV formats.

Drama and controversy is, of course, key to boosting the viewership of such programmes. And where the audiences go, advertisers follow.

The Dubai-based MBC, the region's largest broadcaster, is behind series like as Arabs Got Talent and Arab Idol. One homegrown sucess is Millions Poet, whose ratings often out score televised football, that is made by Abu Dhabi TV, part of Abu Dhabi Media, which also publishes The National.

On Monday, MBC said it had also secured the rights to make an Arabic-language version of The Voice, a talent show featuring "blind auditions" of contestants.

Commentators say that these tried-and-tested formats may be relatively costly to produce but that their popularity in the region makes them pay off.

"These shows are doing well in the ratings," said Ali Ajouz, a media consultant based in the UAE.

The Arab world's TV industry is expected to be worth more than US$2.5bn (Dh9.18bn) this year, according to the Arab Media Outlook. Of that, about $2bn is made up of advertising revenues. In general, the more popular a show, the higher the advertising rates that can be charged by broadcasters such as MBC.

Arab Idol is ranked as the second most popular show in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, one of the region's richest advertising markets, according to the Arab Media Outlook. Such shows now rank among the Turkish dramas in their dominance of the airwaves, according to the report.

"Imports continue to dominate the Arab TV landscape in terms of audience with Turkish series as popular as ever, and with the success of local versions of international talent shows such as Arab Idol," sais the report.

Other international TV formats to be remade in Arabic include Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Everybody Loves Raymond.

bflanagan@thenational.ae