Obsession with the smartphone pushing a listening boom
Dubai is to be home to seven new digital-only radio stations – including two Virgin-branded channels – in a response to the increasing numbers of music lovers tuning in via smartphones. The Arabian Radio Network (ARN) launches the new stations in May, its chief operating officer Steve Smith told Al Arabiya English. ARN’s new digital stations will be available via existing apps, in a market in which there is an “obsession” with smartphone use, Mr Smith said. This is ARN’s first digital-only radio stations – with several more to launch later in 2016.
ARN’s existing nine FM radio stations include Dubai 92, Virgin Radio Dubai 104.4, City 1016 and Hit 96.7. The new on-line stations will be extensions of the existing brands. Advertisers are already lined up for the new radio stations, in what Mr Smith said was a strong market for ARN.
This is a wonderful radio market… People are in their cars and they’re travelling a long way to get to work, to get to school, he said. The consumer doesn’t mind what platform they’re listening to – it gets down to great content. Despite that, radio only attracts 3 percent of the total advertising revenues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to a report by the Northwestern University in Qatar. Mr Smith said that ‘programmatic radio’ – which would target ads to specific listeners of digital channels – was coming to Dubai within the next year. If we’re able to personalize the delivery of a certain ad that is relatable to you and you get a better result for the advertiser, I think it’s going to work exceptionally well, he said.
ARN is part of Dubai Holding, which is majority owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. The network's general manager, Mahmoud Al Rasheed, recently announced a deal for its nine terrestrial FM radio stations to be carried on the Dubai pay-TV network OSN (digital terrestrial) .
There is a also a terrestrial digital radio station in United Arab Emirates broadcasting with DRM30 standard; Pravasi Bharathi 810 AM.