Ramadan 2024: New trends in the Middle East entertainment industry

During Ramadan 2024, the media and entertainment landscape across the Middle East and other regions with Muslim communities witnessed a significant transformation.

10 MAY 2024

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During Ramadan 2024, the media and entertainment landscape across the Middle East and other regions with Muslim communities witnessed a significant transformation. As published by the Dubai International Content Market team, this Holy Month not only accentuated spiritual observance but also brought a surge in media consumption driven by unique cultural and social dynamics. The following insights dive deeper into how various platforms maximized their content strategies to captivate and connect with audiences during Ramadan.

During Ramadan, digital platforms witnessed a notable increase in user engagement. For example, TikTok reported an 8% rise in entertainment content consumption as users sought light-hearted and culturally relevant distractions. Sports content on the platform experienced a remarkable 22% increase, likely driven by community viewing during evening gatherings. Additionally, food and drink content surged by 23%, reflecting the centrality of Iftar and Suhoor in daily Ramadan life. The diverse content range accommodated users' varying needs, with peak activity occurring between Iftar and Suhoor.

YouTube continues to dominate Ramadan media consumption, especially among Indonesian viewers seeking spiritual and personal development content. The platform's search data indicates a 2.3-fold increase in queries related to Islamic and Muslim lifestyle topics compared to the previous year. Furthermore, interest in health and wellness is evident, with a 60% increase in downloads of weight training videos, reflecting a trend towards maintaining physical health even during fasting periods. YouTube's flexibility in offering long-form and short-form content allows users to tailor their viewing experiences, catering to their dynamic Ramadan schedules.

Podcasting has carved out a significant niche, especially among Gen Z and Millennials. Approximately 30% of these younger audiences listen to podcasts daily during Ramadan, with an impressive 28% dedicating specific time post-Iftar to this format. This trend underscores a growing preference for personal and spiritual enrichment through audio content, providing a convenient way to engage with media while fulfilling Ramadan duties.

According to Google's "Ramadan Insights" research, households in the MENA region have the highest number of internet-connected devices globally, with an average of 14 devices per household. This unprecedented connectivity is dramatically reshaping how people engage with media, making consumption patterns highly fragmented. Users across MENA interact daily with a diverse array of devices and platforms, diversifying their media engagement more than ever before. While social media remains significant, a notable shift is observed: 72% of online activity in the region now occurs on the open internet. This broad category encompasses websites, mobile apps, digital audio, video games, streaming TV, and digital out-of-home media.

This trend underscores the growing importance of these platforms not only for routine engagement but also for specialized campaigns during Ramadan. During Ramadan, connected TV stands out as a crucial medium for delivering premium content directly to viewers' homes. It offers advanced advertising capabilities for precise targeting, making it an increasingly popular choice for marketers during the holy month. This shift towards connected TV provides new opportunities for delivering tailored advertising experiences, enhancing the effectiveness of Ramadan campaigns across the MENA region. Despite the increasing popularity of digital platforms, television remains a cornerstone of entertainment during Ramadan. TV channels across the region schedule prime-time dramas specifically produced for Ramadan, featuring themes of faith, morality, and community. These series often become cultural phenomena and are discussed extensively on social media and traditional media outlets.

Moreover, special Ramadan-themed talk shows and variety programs provide nightly entertainment featuring popular hosts with scholars and celebrities' guest appearances, reinforcing communal bonds. In celebration of Ramadan 2024, Shahid launched two popup channels: Ramadan “Ma’na_GCC” and Ramadan “Ma’na_series.” Similarly, STARZ ON launched two cooking channels in partnership with Roya Media Group: Roya Kitchen and Chefman.

Streaming services like Shahid and MBC Ramadan adjusted their content offerings significantly during Ramadan, curating special sections for Ramadan dramas and religious programming. These platforms report a spike in viewership, with drama series being particularly popular. The convenience of on-demand viewing allows families to watch together after breaking their fast, fitting seamlessly into Ramadan’s nightly rituals. 

Ramadan holds profound cultural significance, and the media consumption during this period provides key insights into Muslim audiences' evolving preferences and behaviors. As platforms continue to innovate and tailor their offerings, they not only cater to the immediate needs of their viewers but also shape the future landscape of media and entertainment in regions with Muslim communities.