By Andy Sambidge
Arab Advisors Group study says 13 shows planned to air this year in battle for more viewers
The concept of reality TV talent shows in the Arab world has exploded with 13 different programmes planning to be aired this year, according to a new report by the Arab Advisors Group.
The study of 10 Arab free-to-air (FTA) satellite channels in the region showed that the number of shows locally-produced by stations is higher than licensed-format-based reality TV shows.
In 2012, a total of reality TV shows were broadcast on the selected FTA satellite channels while 13 shows have aired or will air in 2013, the report added.
The Arab Advisors Group said: "Spurred by the liberalisation and the boom in satellite TV supply and viewership, many channels in the Arab TV industry recognise the need for offering quality content to maintain their attraction to viewers and advertisers.
"Reality TV's attraction lies in its relative novelty to audiences as well as its lower costs of production as participants are mainly regular people and not highly paid movie and TV stars."
It added that the majority of shows to be aired in 2013 are sequels to previous successful seasons such as Arab Idol and Nojoum Al Oloum.
"Out of the 18 reality TV shows aired in 2012/2013, 12 are original shows rather than licensed formats from global companies," said Hiba Rabadi, Arab Advisors research analyst.
"Moreover, channels are increasingly employing social media as a tool for increased interactivity with their audience. 12 out of the 18 reality TV shows have online presence on social media portals."
Last year, Dubai-based MBC Group signed a deal for exclusive Middle Eastern and North African rights to broadcast an Arabic version of the musical reality TV show The Voice.
The Voice was launched as The Voice of Holland in January 2011 and has been sold to 45 countries and is screened in 140 territories, including the US and UK.