admin | October 1, 2009
A bit of a change of pace today, Beep Beep will be looking at the UAE media market, newspapers in particular. For a fairly small population of English speakers, the UAE English-language newspaper market is pretty saturated. Veteran papers like Gulf News and Khaleej Times lead the market, but they compete for stories, readers and advertisers with newcomers: The National, Business 24-7 and 7Days (which, in UAE terms seems like an old-timer, running as a daily since 2004.)
My employer, The National, is the newest of the lot, launched in April 2008.
Management at the Abu Dhabi Media Company, our publisher, recently commissioned Ipsos, the research group, to do a study on how the paper stands in the market now, 18 months after launch. The results are pretty interesting.
Among the total UAE population:
In general, over the last year The National has taken bites out of the
market shares of Gulf News and Khaleej Times, which remain respectively
the number one and two papers in the country. 7Days has held pretty
steady, while the market share of Business 24-7 seems to have tanked.
For those in the media business, the most striking thing is the decline
of 24-7, which remains a pretty active and prominent newspaper in Dubai
business circles. But a few things to take into account: it is a
specialist business and finance paper, which puts it in a niche. Like
the FT in England, it should not be seen as competing for a similar
sized market share as the national broadsheets and tabloids. But it has
also positioned itself into a niche of finance and property
professionals in Dubai, and outside of GM dealers in America, that is
probably one of the toughest niche markets in the world to be depending
on these days.
Among UAE Nationals:
The biggest surprise of the survey is that The National is now, by a
pretty significant margin, the number one English newspaper among UAE
nationals. This is great news for our reporters and editors, but I can
imagine that the advertising people upstairs are also fairly happy
Among non Arabic-speaking expats:
The paper is also looking good among non-Arabic speaking expats, who
are pretty much the central market for an English newspaper here. But it goes without saying that Gulf News remains dominant in this market, with an almost 50 per cent share. This also seems to be the place where readership of 24-7 has really cratered.
Obviously some significant waivers / caveats / disclosures need to apply here. This data
comes from a study commissioned and paid for by The National, and I work for The
National. People in our commercial division sent this out to the newsroom as a congratulations, which is how I came across it. So obviously this is not the most impartial piece of reading you will look at today.
But given the lack of data out there, and the generally solid reputation of Ipsos as a research group in the region, I thought it was worth
throwing this out into the interwebs and seeing what people make of it.