Friday, December 02, 2005

Oprah is tops with young Saudi women

I know my blog has some Oprah fans - this is for you! (lifted from the Wall Street Journal) [PS I typed this up by hand, show ur appreciation by leaving some comments :P] :

By Yasmine Al-Rashidi

More than a year after the pan-Arab satellite station MBC started broadcasting 'Oprah' on its Channel 4, it made a discovery: the show's ratings were higher than those of any other English-language show. The interest was coming from an untapped audience in teh largest country in theri coverage area: young Saudi Arabian women. And wht these younger women wanted was even more 'Oprah', as well as other programs like it.
"We found Oprah to be the biggest hit with out viewers," says Andrew Maskall, margeting manager for MBC 2 and 4, which are based in nearby Dubai. "It helped us identify a commercia gap in the market." Almost a third of Saudi Arabi's population of 26 million people are women under 25 years old. MBC4's target audience is 18-25 year olds.
When it discovered the popularity of Oprah, MBC also learned that a group of women commonly perceived as sheltered and conservative were actually identifying with the same issues as women around the world. So along with puttign Oprah at the heard of its new programming on MBC 4 - the show now airs twice a day, five days a week - MBC decided to rebrand MBC4 to specifically target young Saudi women. "We realised theat theyre our core audience," MR. Maskall says.
Making Oprah the centerpiece of the network is hardly a risk-free strategy. Oprah Winfrey is a sore spot for many Saudis. Earlier this year, in a show on "Women Across The Globe", she included Saudi TV presenter Rania Al-Baz among the 11 interviewees sharing uplifting stories. Ms. Al-Baz made headlines in KSA last year when she was nearly beaten to death by her husband. Of he 11 interviews, hers was the only tale of abuse. After sharign ictures of the broadcaster in a bruised and tattered state, Ms. Winfrey said "Thank God we live in America."
In the avalanche fo criticism of Ms. Winfrey that followed, one Saudi columnist wrote, "Oprah is like a sieve that tells the needle that it has a hole in it. It would have been better if she had spent the time and money for this segment on doing a serice to her own society, and on revealing the true situation in that society."


In any case, Ms. Akeel, says, the criticism has done nothing to diminish Oprah's appeal to young Saudi women. "So often conversations among young women start with 'Did you see Oprah last night?' " She addresses the issues that Saudi media don'y, an the issues that are on these women's minds."
MBC, which is privately owned by Saudi nationals, teamed up with Jeddah-based advertising agency 3Points to produce the station's new identity, using the slogan, "it's for you!" The Sauid agency is working with young Saudi women to addres their needs without offending them. Because showing faces in public is banned for religious reasons in Saudi Arabia, for example, an avune to reach women needed to be found.


The ads show Saudi women adhering to conservative dress codes - fully covered with none of their hair showing - but with a modern touch: colorful backgrounds, vibrant smiles and clear body language. "The girls in the ads are covered up, but in a very fashionable way," Mr. Maskall says. All the shows on MBC4 are broadcast in their original english with arabic subtitles.

... (article continues).


So there you go. I found that very interesting, and from what I've seen it applies to more than just Saudi Arabia, but to the Gulf in general, and possibly further in the Arab world as well.

*rests fingers after that...*

Posted by illogicist at 9:29 AM


  1. Blogger PizzaQueen posted at 12/03/2005 01:20:00 AM  
    Eh infact i signed an online petition some time ago.
    How did it go?
  2. Blogger illogicist posted at 12/03/2005 02:56:00 AM  
    Online petition about what? Ive never heard of it...
  3. Blogger PizzaQueen posted at 12/03/2005 06:26:00 AM  
    Cause she offended Saudi women
  4. Blogger Arabian Princess posted at 12/03/2005 12:49:00 PM  
    Oprah is just another show, sometimes it has some intresting topics it talks about, other times its just boring..
    One thing I dont like about her "sorry fans" is that she likes to brag about her helping others .. I mean its great that she is doing it, but why does she have to view it on tv except that she wants publicity!!
  5. Blogger illogicist posted at 12/03/2005 01:28:00 PM  
    Im not a 'fan' of Oprah, I have seen a few episodes (although most of them are probably 10 years old when I was a kid and used to sit with my my mom when she watched!). Some are quite interesting and some are just not for me, as AP said.
  6. Blogger Samyah posted at 12/08/2005 07:05:00 AM  
    Hey, nice article. I didn't know this was the reason they changed their campaign. Thanks Z ;)

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