South Asian pay-TV audience in MENA rises as ad rates decline

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 26-01-2012

The high pay-TV viewership for South Asians in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) should be met with higher advertising rates, the territory head at Zee Network has told a UAE newspaper.

Mukund Cairae, who is responsible for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at the popular Indian television network claims pay-TV viewership by South Asians in the MENA region has now reached between 55-64%, "six times the penetration of Arab viewership," he told Gulf News.
"Yet the ad industry in the region chooses to overlook the entire South Asian viewership base. Their perception is that the South Asian viewership base predominantly comprises blue-collar workers," he added.
Cairae reportedly claims the advertising rates given to the premium South Asian satellite channels are "at an all time low," and that their slice of the regional advertising pie is "barely 3% of that for Arab channels", which are mostly free to air.
In a market such as the UAE, Cairae suggests that 20% or more of the population represent the advertisers' target audience, and by his figuring the Hindi language pay-TV channels should instead represent closer to 15% of the total advertising spend.
In addition to Zee TV, Star TV, and Sony Entertainment Channel (SET) provide general entertainment programming to the large number of Hindi speakers in the Arab world.
In addition to its Hindi content, Zee also has a free to air Bollywood movie channel - Zee Aflam – which is dubbed or subtitled in Arabic.
Zee Aflam currently reaches 9 million households in Saudi Arabia alone, according to Cairae, and has recently started making a profit for the network, following its launch back in 2008.