For the first time ever Arabic programs made it to the top ten list of global television programs, according to an annual industry survey, as daily TV viewing surpassed an average of three hours per day.
The extraordinary popularity of the Arabic-dubbed Turkish series Noor and the Syrian series Bab al Hara, which were both in the top ten rankings in the Middle East and North Africa region, earned them a place among the Top 10 TV programs globally. The American series CSI topped the list of the most popular series, according to the report on television consumption.
"It’s unprecedented because it’s the first time a program from the region, and in this case two series, make it to the listing,” Mazen Hayek, marketing director for MBC Group, which aired the series, told AlArabiy.net. “It shows regional media is competing with global media, it has a competitive edge."
Published by Eurodata TV Worldwide, the annual 2009 report ‘One Television Year in the World’ assesses program performance, trends and audience information in more than 80 territories around the world.
"For us it’s the first time Arab programs appear on the list of programs seen in several countries,” explained Eurodata research analyst Alexandra Brenkmen to AlArabiya.net.
"It shows programs are exported well and it’s not only local programs that are doing well, and that is a trend in the industry that is opening new doors,” she added.
Noor, originally Gumus in Turkey, soared to astronomical popularity in the Middle East, drawing more than 85 million viewers for its final episode last year. Its portrayal of gender relations and the Muslim family attracted viewers across the region and helped create an entirely new genre of Arabic programming: Turkish series.
After first airing in Turkey in 2005 to reasonable ratings, the Dubai-based MBC Group dubbed the soap into colloquial Arabic and gave it a prime time slot on its popular channel MBC4 where it became a television phenomenon.
"It’s a source of pride for MBC because we’re the first (Arab or Middle Eastern media company) to make it to the Eurodata list,” said Hayek, explaining that the report is a benchmark in the industry.
"It’s a strong indication as to who is in the pack and probably it’s good to see MBC in there. It’s as big as Al Arabiya winning the first sit-down interview with President Obama,” he added.
MBC Group, established in 1991 as the first pan-Arab free-to-aid satellite broadcaster, includes nine channels and is the parent company of Al Arabiya.
The report also found that global audiences watch an average of 188 minutes of television a day, up by one minute from last year.