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Study Middle East news consumers demand trustworthy, high-quality content

Spring Tide: The new era for video news in the Middle East and North Africa

LONDON — There is a strong appetite in the Middle East for high-quality news content in different formats and a desire to see trustworthy news from a number of different perspectives, according to a new survey conducted for The Associated Press.

Entitled “Spring Tide: The new era for video news in the Middle East and North Africa,” the report examines the state of the news market in the region and suggests ways it needs to evolve.

Produced by Deloitte, the survey of 18 to 45-year-olds in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia reveals a thriving market where 97 percent of consumers regularly discuss news and current affairs in their daily lives. Forming a vital part of the social fabric, news is consumed by audiences in the region for an average of 72 minutes per day, longer than their counterparts in the U.K., Germany and Japan.

The research also shows that the Middle East audience is not always well served by the existing news supply, presenting a substantial opportunity for news providers. Trust is most important to consumers in the Middle East, with almost a third of respondents identifying it as paramount when choosing a news provider. This differed from previous survey respondents in Europe and Asia for whom speed was the most significant factor.

Quality is also important for Middle East consumers, particularly when it comes to video content. Despite identifying a preference for locally produced content, more than half of respondents believe that international TV content is a better source of news because of better quality video clips. This is highlighted further by the fact that 75 percent of those surveyed are more likely to access a news story if it has an accompanying video, and that video consumers have a higher dwell time on news content each day. For 83 percent of Middle East consumers, video clips also improve their overall understanding of content.

When it comes to the content itself, a broad mix of stories resonates. Lighthearted stories are important, as is international news; with political news stories remaining the most commonly accessed (by 80 percent of respondents). Most significant for broadcasters though is the 63 percent of consumers expressing a desire for increased coverage of regionally-focused stories. Demand to access regional content in addition to — rather than instead of — international news indicates the region is a particularly engaged consumer of news.

The findings also suggest that the rise of social media is changing consumers’ online behavior. Seventy percent of respondents use social media for news more today than they did last year, and 59 percent discover the majority of news this way. However, the research also indicates that TV remains important for finding out more on a story once it has broken, with 43 percent accessing it first to get more information.

“The new study gives us a much deeper understanding of Middle East news consumers and how the industry needs to adapt to meet their needs,” said Ian Phillips, Middle East director of news for AP. “For example, it’s critical to understand the trends in news consumption habits, particularly when it comes to video and the use of social media. The demand for better quality video and more regional news also presents a number of opportunities, while the increased use of social media suggests the need for new and innovative strategies to drive audiences back to online news sites.”

Matthew Guest, head of digital strategy for Deloitte Europe, added: “We were really excited to carry out research in a market that is evolving incredibly fast on both the supply and demand side. The findings highlight a series of exciting opportunities for news providers, particularly for local outlets that are in a position to produce a richer, more cultural output for audiences. The Middle East is flourishing and news providers need to ensure that supply balances with demand in the future.”

Download a copy of the report.

A copy of the full report is available upon request. Research was predominantly carried out online in March-April 2014 in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A representative sample of 1,000 respondents aged 18-44 was used for each market. Online research was calibrated with an offline survey of c. 1,500 respondents per market. Fieldwork was carried out by Ipsos MORI. In addition to the consumer survey, research was supplemented with eight interviews with news organizations from across the region. This report is the third in a series covering the landscape for news consumption globally. The report, written by Deloitte, was funded by AP.

About Ipsos

Ipsos MORI UK Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales (Company Number 01640855), whose registered office is situated at 79 – 81 Borough Road, London, SE1 1FY. It is one of the two private limited companies that jointly trade as “Ipsos MORI”, operating as one coherent organisation under a single senior management team; the other company being Market & Opinion Research International Limited (Company Number 00948470). Please see Ipsos MORI’s website for further details on Ipsos MORI’s management team and services, which can be found here:

Ipsos MORI UK Limited and Market & Opinion Research International Limited are both wholly owned by Ipsos SA, a publicly listed company established in France; and are part of the Ipsos worldwide group of market research companies. For detailed information on the legal structure of Ipsos SA and the Ipsos group of companies, please see the latest version of Ipsos SA’s reference document that can be found on the Ipsos website here:


Laura Imregi
Communications Manager
The Associated Press

Paul Colford
Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press

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