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September-23-2020   |   by Rana Adel   |   
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In a matter of a few years, podcasts have proven to be an efficient digital communication medium to reach out to new layers of audience and captivate their interest. For that reason, the podcast industry is booming worldwide with more than 850,000 active podcasts being produced in over 100 languages. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was no exception! The number of podcasts in the region was estimated at 300+ podcasts by the beginning of 2018, and is believed to be exceeding the 500 benchmark in 2020.

In a sense, the number of podcasts in MENA is still relatively low, yet the rapid increase in this number bodes well. The rise of the podcast production in the region can be attributed to many different reasons, topped by the growing number of internet users in MENA. In October 2019, key industry players were brought together at the second edition of the Middle East Podcast Forum in Dubai to discuss the potentiality of this emerging trend.  Ramsey Tesdell, the executive director of Aman-based Arabic podcasting network Sowt summarized the key takeaways from the event in the obvious growth of the trend and the explicit need for more podcasts.

A golden opportunity!

Amid a context of promising figures and a post-coronavirus world where people are used to spending more time online, the MENA region seems to make a fertile ground for podcasting platforms to grow. Lacking diversity in formats and topics, the region’s digital market has a golden and unprecedented opportunity for those who want to start up their podcast projects.

A podcast might be an interview, a panel, a solo, or a conversational dialogue, while themes could vary widely from politics and culture to fun and entertainment shows. Simply put, there is room for more diverse Arabic podcasting shows to notch up regional success. This makes more sense when you know there were 5.1 million podcast listeners in Saudi Arabia and 1.3 million  in the UAE by the end of 2018.

Monetization models

One major challenge Arab podcasters face is how to monetize their productions. According to Arcast, only 0.01% of the Egyptian podcasters make profits. This could be attributed to the fact that the lack of clear monetization models that help both hosting platforms and podcast producers generate revenues.

A thorough look into the global podcasting production scene shows that podcasters usually source their revenues from sponsorships, membership and subscription, licensing and sales, or live events. It is fair to say that the podcast production in the MENA region is yet to be a mature and comprehensive industry, a phase that is no longer far away.

The perks of podcast production

No matter your industry, hosting or producing an episodic podcast show can reap numerous benefits to your business. Podcasting is now seen as a guaranteed time- and cost-efficient digital marketing tool to attract your audience and build a strong relationship with them. Making your own podcast can, in fact, create the digital buzz you want and position your business as an industry expert.

After all, if you want to expand your business reach and generate more revenues in MENA, podcasting seems to be an easy and quick way to do so. The term "podcast" or “بودكاست” was mentioned over 404K times in the region between April 2019 and May 2020, indicating a tremendous opportunity in the market. It is time to consider podcasting as an effective alternative for traditional content types like videos and written texts. There is a significant rise in the number of the region’s podcast hosting platforms at one end, and the number of listeners at the other. Who knows? Podcasting may be the next big thing in the digital marketing sphere.

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