Arab Advisors Group
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Arabic Superstar’s voting grosses over US$ 4 million in voting revenues alone.
Sunday, August 24, 2003

Millions of Arabs awaited in anticipation last week the results of the first Arab “Superstar” contest, the Arabic version of American Idol, which is managed by the Lebanon-based Future Satellite TV station. The true super star may indeed be the mobile operators that grossed, along with Future TV and the VAS service provider, over US$ 4 million in voting revenues alone. August 24, 2003 - Superstar is one of the biggest TV productions in the Arab World for the year 2003. Future Television bought the show recently from FremantleMedia. FremantleMedia is one of the largest international television production companies in Europe. The company produces more than 260 programs in over 39 countries and territories a year. Superstar is currently aired on Future Television as one of its newly scheduled shows. While this show is constrained to one country internationally, the Arabic version actually extends to all of the countries of the Arab league where the participants come from multiple countries. Indeed, the two finalists of this season were from the two countries of Syria and Jordan and the GSM operators in both countries turned it into a sort of national duty to vote for the compatriot. According to the TV station, 80% of the votes came from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in the semi final round where the three finalists came from Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. 84% of the votes coming from Jordan were in favor of Diana Karazon, 97% of the votes from Syria were in favor of Rowaida Atieh, and 79% of the votes from Lebanon were in favor of Melhem Zein. The final voting session, where the Jordanian Diana Karazon won 52% of the votes, had a total of 4.8 million votes cast, through the Internet, SMS and cellular calls. “In a rare moment in the history of the Arab media a sense of influence and involvement has been given to the people, where their votes determine the outcome of the show. Consequently the popularity of this show has been amplified, and viewer numbers has augmented tremendously.” Mr. Abed Al Rahman Pharaon, Arab Advisors Media analyst said. A new research note (small report) analyzing the shows revenues and popularity was released by the Arab Advisors Group’s (www.arabadvisors.com) on August 18th, 2003. The report, priced at only US$ 50, is part of the Arab Advisors Group’s MEDIA Strategic Research Service subscription. “Voting through the Internet played an important role due to the fact that voting via the Internet is for free. According to Future Television, the majority of the votes from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia came through the Internet. Which underlines the relatively high usage of Internet in the rich gulf markets”. Mr. Pharaon added. The Arab Advisors Group research shows that the share of GSM subscribers out of the total GSM and Internet users in the Arab world is around 79% (i.e for every Internet user there are four GSM subscribers). Thus, we estimated the total number of GSM users who voted through SMS and Phone service to be more than 5 million of the total 6.5 million votes over the programs duration. The Arab Advisors Group calculated the average cost for both SMS and phone per minute to be around US$ 0.78, which gives an estimated revenue of more than US$ 4 million. These revenues are divided among three groups: Future TV, the mobile operators, and the mediators between the mobile operator and Superstar according to certain pre-defined percentages/shares, such as the Global Call company. “Creating TV content and an audience-jury model would create substantial revenues to the GSM operators hence increasing the level of ARPU in the long run. Due to the competitive nature of the GSM industry, many operators have lowered their tariffs and hence their ARPU levels were significantly affected. Superstar is one block in the quest to steady ARPU levels. Future TV and the rest of the major content providers in the region must surely be feeling their importance.” The research note concluded. “SuperStar and its massive voting revenues (not to mention its revenues from media sponsorship) is a prime example of how the GSM operators can leverage the TV content of many of the satellite TV stations in the Arab World. This is a sure example of the convergence of media and telecom.” Mr. Jawad Abbassi, Arab Advisors Founder and President, said. The Arab Advisors Group’s team of analysts in the region has already produced more than 175 reports on the Arab World’s communications and media markets. The reports can be purchased individually or received through an annual subscription to Arab Advisors Group’s (www.arabadvisors.com) Strategic Research Services (Media and Telecom). To date, Arab Advisors Group has served more than 100 global and regional companies by providing reliable research analysis and forecasts of Arab communications markets to these clients.

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