Nielsen releases UAE’s first radio audience measurement results

Wednesday 14 February, 2018
Photo: Twitter


Global measurement and data analytics company, Nielsen, revealed the first known comprehensive data on UAE Radio Audience Measurement (UAE RAM) at an event in Dubai on Sunday while also unveiling which channels had the biggest reach in the country.

The research pointed out that radio is one of the most powerful entertainment platforms in the UAE today with a staggering 93% of the total population aged 10 and above spending nine hours a week listening to radio. The results for the quarter ending 31 December 2017 also showed that not only is there a radio peak in the evening, lasting up to 8pm, but there is also very high engagement continuing much later into the night.

Among the radio networks, ARN came out on the top with 30% of the viewership while Abu Dhabi Media Radio was close behind at 26.8% and the Channel 4 Group at 15.2%. Among the English radio stations, Virgin Radio emerged the winner, while Radio Mirchi stood out among the Hindi radio stations and Al Arabiya stood out among expat Arab radio stations.

With average commuting times to work in the UAE at 96 minutes, much of the nation’s radio consumption happens while people are travelling. Listeners tune into radio during the morning and afternoon drive times, with peak times between 7am and 9am, 2pm and 4pm, and 6pm and 8pm during weekdays. Although weekend consumption drops by half compared to weekdays, radio reach remains significant with engagement peaking between 8am and 9am, 2pm and 3pm and 7pm and 8pm.

Contrary to popular belief, radio listening activity in the country remains high even late at night, from 8pm until midnight. 27% of all radio consumption in an average week occurs between 8pm and 12am, with 61% of listeners tuning into radio from 8pm onwards. Additionally, the study shows that radio engagement at home starts increasing from 6pm and peaks at 11pm, whereas listening activity while travelling lessens after 8pm, although is still significant.

“The extensive study has reaffirmed radio’s resilience and vitality as a popular medium of information and entertainment for the UAE population,” commented Sarah Messer, Director Media – Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, Nielsen.

Long drive times in the country have been identified as the foremost driver of the medium’s growth as listening to the radio while on the move tops the list of places radio is consumed. Specialised content like real-time traffic updates has made radio even more attractive to people who commute daily to work and back. In addition, radio’s acceptance as a leading source of music discovery and entertainment, driven by creative and engaging presenters, contributes further to its reach across audiences from different backgrounds, and cultural preferences for later lifestyles are driving listenership during evening and night-time. Our UAE RAM solution measures the country’s 40+ radio stations, each catering to our diverse population in a multitude of languages. From our results, we can clearly see that the UAE presents an exceptionally strong market for radio and a great way for advertisers to reach their target audiences,“ she added.

Some important figures were highlighted.

The UAE has a remarkably high number of what is classed as ‘heavy’ radio listeners with 1.9 million people tuning in for 18 hours a week, whereas ‘medium’ listeners, or 3.4 million people, recorded an average consumption of 8 hours per week.

98% of listeners aged 10-14 years and younger millennials aged 15 to 24 years clocked up six and eight hours of listening a week respectively. On the other hand, 93% of older millennials aged 25-34 years, 92% of people aged 35 to 44 years and 91% of listeners aged 45-54 years still rely heavily on radio for information and entertainment, spending an average nine hours of their time listening per week. More interestingly, 94% of the older generation, aged 55 and above, continue to enjoy the medium they have grown up with, spending 9 hours per week on average tuning in.

Among different nationalities in the UAE, the reach of radio is the highest among Westerners at 100%, and Emiratis, with 97% of them tuning in for eight hours a week respectively. The data showed that 96% of Indians spent nine hours a week on average listening to radio, while 96% of expat Arabs devoted 7.5 hours each week to radio. Other Asians, who include expatriates from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, among others, appear to be heavy listeners with 95% reach and 10 hours of average radio consumption weekly. On the other hand, the medium has a reach of 81% among Filipinos and other East Asians who registered 8.5 hours of listening a week.

Among various income categories, class AB, which enjoys the highest socio-economic status, has an almost universal reach of 99% and eight hours of radio engagement per week, while 95% of class C1 consumes nine hours of radio every week. Radio has greater reach among class C2 than class D, with 93% and 88% listenership respectively.

Radio reach and time spent listening vary by location, with 95% people in Sharjah and 92% listeners in Dubai spending the most time with radio at 10 hours each week. In Abu Dhabi, 95% of the population tunes into various radio stations for 6.5 hours a week, whereas in Northern Emirates region, which includes Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, average per week listening activity goes up to 9 hours with a reach of 89%.

The UAE RAM project started with an Establishment Survey of 17,000 face-to-face interviews across all seven emirates in the UAE to enable Nielsen to determine population dynamics and ensure its collection of radio data would be balanced and representative. A ‘hybrid diary’ methodology was used for the research, introducing both a traditional paper diary and an innovative electronic diary to respondents, to measure robust information on radio listening. Every quarter, 2,100 people aged 10 and above, representing all nationalities and languages across the emirates are asked to record their radio listening activities for 7 consecutive days. They record their listening in 15-minute time-slots for the entire week in their chosen diary format.

United Arab Emirates
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