DUBAI: Consumers in the Middle East spend more than one hour a day on news consumption and show a preference for stories that include video content, new research has shown.
Consulting firm Deloitte polled 18-44 year olds in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – 1,000 in each nation – for the Associated Press-funded report "Spring Tide: The new era for video news in the Middle East and North Africa".
This highlighted the role news plays in the lives of consumers in the region, as they spend an average of 72 minutes every day on news content – longer than their counterparts in the UK, Germany and Japan – and almost all (97%) talk about this news over the course of their daily lives.
Matthew Guest, head of digital strategy for Deloitte Europe, noted a key difference between news consumers in the Middle East, where they valued trust and quality in their news providers, and those in European and Asian markets, where speed tended to be the paramount consideration.
News functioned as social currency in the region, he said, and the audience there was more discerning. "They want to have depth of understanding of the news and different perspectives rather than just being the first to hear about a story."
While the survey revealed a preference for locally produced content, more than half of respondents thought international TV content was a better source of news because of the better quality video clips available there.
In fact, three quarters indicated that they were more likely to access a news story if it had an accompanying video and 83% said video clips improved their overall understanding of content. Video consumers also had a higher dwell time on news content each day.
The report suggested that the finding of most significance for broadcasters was that almost two thirds (63%) of respondents wanted more regionally focused stories, in addition to the international news they already consumed.
There had also been a sharp shift in the way consumers discovered news, with 59% doing so primarily via social media. Overall, 70% of those surveyed said they used social media for news more today than they did a year ago.
That said, TV remains important for finding out more on a story once it has broken, with 43% of respondents watching TV first to get more information about the news.
Data sourced from Zawya, Deloitte; additional content by Warc staff