SAT-7, the leading Christian television broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), is announcing record viewership numbers for its Arabic-language channels. With 21.5 million viewers, its audience has increased by 76 percent in the past five years.
“The research shows remarkable growth for SAT-7 audiences in the MENA region. It is very encouraging, especially at a time when you would expect people to be preoccupied with hard-news channels due to the ongoing turmoil in the region,” says Dr Terence Ascott, Founder and CEO of SAT-7.
The survey was carried out by the global market research company IPSOS between April and July 2016. The independent research group asked 27,000 people in ten Arab countries about their viewership. The study shows that the audience for SAT-7’s three Arabic-language channels has grown by 76 percent over the five years since the start of the so-called Arab Spring, and that they now have a combined viewership of 21.5 million. More than 10 million of these people watch daily or at least once a week.
Hunger for good news
“One explanation for the growth might be that many people are deeply distressed by the situation in the Middle East: they have lost trust and hope in both their religious and political leadership, and they are looking for divine help and guidance. Many are emotionally tired and are searching for something to lift their spirits; some positive news; something that can encourage them. The messages of faith and hope that SAT-7 broadcasts are very attractive to many,” says Ascott.
Viewership in Egypt is especially high for SAT-7. But the new survey also indicates that SAT-7 has large audiences in North Africa, particularly in Algeria and Morocco. The Christian populations in these countries are very small but they have been active in helping produce relevant and dynamic programming for North Africa. There is also a very significant number of viewers in Syria and, surprisingly, Saudi Arabia.
Children watch regularly
SAT-KIDS, launched in 2007, is a very popular channel specifically dedicated to bringing safe and engaging programming to Arab children. An impressive 80 percent of its viewers are watching daily or at least once a week, with a total audience of 4.6 million.
“The fact that four out of five viewers are watching daily or at least once a week, is testament to the quality of the Christian shows airing on SAT-7 KIDS,” Ascott says.
My school programme has high impact
The new educational programme My School on SAT-7 KIDS, teaching children creativity, thinking skills, Maths, Arabic, English, and Science, is gaining traction with young audiences. Some 1.3 million are now watching these educational programmes; almost all of them regular viewers, watching daily or at least once a week.
“Children are the main hope for any future change in the Middle East,” Ascott says. “We take seriously the responsibility to help build in them character, as well as creative, learning and analytical skills that will enable them to make good choices in life – choices that will help build more pluralistic and peaceful societies.”