Analyst Reports News

UAE radio listenership shows two percent decline in Q3 2018

Sarah Messer, Director Media – Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, Nielsen.

According to Nielsen, the global measurement and data analytics company, 89% of the total UAE population aged 10 and above tuned into radio every week in third-quarter of 2018, which is 2% fewer (221,000 listeners) in reach compared to the previous quarter. The third quarter measurement covers all radio listening from  July 1 to  September 30 2018, coinciding with the UAE’s hottest months of the year, long Eid al Adha celebrations, and school holidays, which explain the slight decline in listenership.

Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement, which measures listenership to 53 radio stations across the country among all individuals aged 10+, also revealed that, although most nationality groups showed a drop in listening levels due to summer vacations, expatriate Arabs saw a growth of 2% in comparison to the previous quarter. Additionally, reflecting the high listening levels from Emiratis seen in the previous quarter, Q3 radio measurement witnessed a consistent reach in listenership among the Emiratis (100%), tuning in for seven hours and eight minutes each week. Reach of radio is also high among the expatriate Arabs at 100% and Westerners at 96%, with them tuning in for seven hours and 39 minutes and six hours and 46 minutes a week respectively.

Radio reach continues to vary by location. Abu Dhabi, yet again, overtook all Emirates in the third-quarter 2018 as the location where radio is most popular (Abu Dhabi 99% reach, versus Sharjah 91% reach, and Dubai 83% reach). While Abu Dhabi and Sharjah witnessed the same number of listeners tuning into radio on a weekly basis as previous quarters, Dubai saw a decline of 7% in average weekly audiences. The report attributed the lower listening levels in Dubai to a majority of the non-Arab expatriates that make up three quarters of Dubai’s population, travelling during the summer break. Despite this decline, Dubai continues to remain a very strong hub for radio listening with 2.4 million listeners tuning in every week during the third quarter of the year.

Throughout all reported quarters to date, Nielsen found that there are consistently three peak listening times on weekdays (between 7 am and 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm, and 6 pm and 9 pm). A surprising learning has been the high level of engagement with radio occurring much later in the day. In the third quarter, radio consumption between 8 pm-12 am was higher than any of the other peak times during the day. The high level of engagement with radio during this time was primarily steered by listeners in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and are mainly aged 24-44 years.

Radio continues to have the greatest reach among higher income earners. Of the higher tier income levels, social class AB (earning AED 30,000 or more per month) and class C1 (earning AED 10,000 – 30,000 per month), there is almost universal penetration, reaching 98% and 91% of these listeners respectively. Radio has a lower reach amongst the lowest monthly income levels, social class DE, however, is still listened to by 82% of this demographic group.

Commenting on the findings, Sarah Messer, Director Media – Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, Nielsen, said: “The summer months in the Gulf region are particularly difficult for many industries as residents travel overseas to escape the desert heat and take advantage of long school holidays, and tourists come in lesser numbers. Marketing budgets shrink in this time, and people’s behaviour with media changes. Our Q3 2018 RAM results demonstrate the challenges with this period – listening is down and Dubai with its heavy expat population, receives the most significant hit. Despite this impact, we still see high levels of listening with 54.3 million hours of radio listened to across all seven Emirates in an average week, and with listeners each tuning in for an average of seven hours 18 minutes every week. Despite the travelling UAE population in these months, radio in the country is resilient and clearly a go-to medium for UAE media audiences.”