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Radio listening in the UAE in Ramadan accounts for 42% of listenership in Q2

Sarah Messer, Director of Media, Nielsen Middle East North Africa and Pakistan.

Data measurement and analytics company, Nielsen, has revealed that radio listening increased for some nationalities throughout the four weeks of Ramadan, accounting for 42% of all radio listening in the second quarter.

According to Nielsen’s second-quarter UAE Radio Audience Measurement (UAE RAM), which was conducted from April 1 to June 30, 2018, weeks compared with other weeks within the quarter (32% reach during non-Ramadan weeks to 25% reach in Ramadan). Given that all residents within the UAE have shorter working hours during Ramadan, it’s interesting to see that mostly non-fasting nationalities turn to radio for their entertainment in their additional spare time.

Measuring the whole UAE population’s listenership to 51 radio stations across the country, Nielsen’s UAE RAM found that listening to religious stations during Ramadan started to peak later in the day (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.) compared with the non-Ramadan period. In other quarters and during the non-Ramadan weeks in Q2, the amount of listening occurring in the early morning from 6 a.m. onward was much higher. The peak time of listening during this Holy Month takes on a different shape, with a dip in reach levels around 7 p.m., coinciding with Iftar timings and the norm of breaking fast with family and friends at home. Listening levels starts to rise again later in the evening between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., as people tend to head out after Iftar for prayers and Suhr.

Looking at the entire second-quarter, radio reached 92% of the UAE population, a slight decline from the previous quarter (95%). This is most likely due to many residents travelling out of the country for the schools’ Spring break in the first few weeks of April, as well as during Ramadan and Eid al Fitr holidays.

Despite the decline in reach versus the previous quarter, engagement with radio remains exceptionally high with 61.2 million hours of radio listened to across all seven emirates in an average week, with listeners tuning in for an average of eight hours each week.

Radio listenership continues to vary by location, with the latest quarter results reporting a slightly lower reach in Dubai (90% vs 92%) and Sharjah (91% vs 95%); a total of 177,000 listeners lesser compared to Q1 2018 whilst Abu Dhabi has seen a small increase, reaching 20,000 more listeners, and is still the location where radio is most popular compared to the other Emirates in terms of reach. Listeners in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates region which includes Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, clock in nine hours tuning into radio in an average week, while listening activity in Abu Dhabi remains lower at an average of six hours a week.

Commenting on the findings, Sarah Messer, Director Media—Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, said: “While the Ramadan specific data will not be available at a wider level to preserve the full dataset’s representation of the whole UAE population, we have been analysing closely the changes recorded in the radio diaries throughout the four-week period. From many other studies, we know that people’s behaviour overall, and especially in relation to media consumption, changes considerably during Ramadan, as fasting and prayer times take on a renewed significance—typical behaviour is turned on its head for those observing the Holy Month. The radio listening patterns we see emerging certainly reflect this. Although there is a dip in listening at an overall level, it is in the context of very healthy radio consumption, with drops in listenership that are in-line with expectations when audience behaviour is considered.”