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PRIME TIME: LebaneseTV stations looking forward to Ramadan

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Lebanese TV stations look forward to Ramadan, and prepare for the fierce competition

July 12, 2012 3:00 by

For many years, summer was a low, if not dead season for Lebanese TV stations, mostly due to a declining viewership during this period when people are either on the beach or enjoying the mountains’ open air. For the past couple of years, however, with Ramadan falling between July and August, summer has become a high time for Lebanese TV stations, and media agencies re­sponsible for channeling all of the advertis­ing – and the big bucks – into these channels.

Figures speak for themselves: the total amount of advertising that was spent on Lebanese TV stations during Ramadan 2011 totaled, according to Stat Ipsos’ figures, $118,5 million. This is big business, which, taken into perspective and ap­propriated to the local context, can be compared to something of the scale of the Superbowl in the United States.

BIG BUSINESS. “It’s the most important period of the year, especially as far as TV channels are concerned,” explains Joseph Sfeir, general manager at Al Media, the media rep that handles Al Jadeed TV. Perhaps the month of Ramadan is particularly important for Al Jadeed, given that the channel – which for different factors, such as its target audience and social position­ing, seems to be poised to win the Ramadan coverage in Lebanon – topped the advertising investments among local TV stations during Ramadan last year, with total spending amount­ing to around $26,7 million. According to Sfeir, the amount of advertising spent on Al Jadeed generally increases during Ramadan by around 40 to 50 percent, and the rate of the ads by no less than 30 to 40 percent.

“Since, for the past three years, the month of Ramadan has been during the summer, the trend in TV viewership has changed, and we have been witnessing a surge in the number of audiences tuning in during this period,” says Carole Hayek, general manager at media agency Optimedia Beirut.

She explains that Ramadan is a very important month to a lot of her clients, especially those who want to tap into the high concentration of viewers on TV. Hayek specifies that there are two major types of clients: the first are those who want to grab the opportunity to either advertise existing products or launch new products that are not related at all to Ramadan. “They like to spend during this month because they know that there will be huge viewership and subsequently a higher return on their investment,” she says. The second are those who advertise products related to this period, such as food, culinary products, cooking appliances etcetera. “These clients try to link their brands to this period,” she adds.

GRID ISSUES. The competition between TV chan­nels on the Ramadan grids is fierce, and schedules are guarded by secrecy until just a few days before the holy month starts. The cult of secrecy is such that the details of scheduled programs are not even revealed to the media agencies that need such data to devise their clients’ media plans. “At this point in time, the TVs are just selling packages; we are just provided with the timing and rate card of each time segment. We plan by benchmarking against the year before, and we wait until they send their final grids to make adjustments and take the final decisions,” Hayek says. 

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