68% of MENA consumers name social media as their primary source for news

68% percent of MENA consumers have identified social media as their primary news source – emphasizing a significant shift in the way people are consuming news, according to the latest research by Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network, in collaboration with Google. Aligned with this trend, 90% of respondents also indicate their mobile phone as their preferred device for accessing news.

The report, entitled ‘Building a Vibrant News Industry in the Middle East and North Africa,’ analyzed three of the largest news markets in MENA - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE - which together account for 80 percent of advertising spending in the region’s entertainment and media industry. The survey of 4,500 consumers shows that the shift away from direct consumption from the news media, particularly among younger cohorts, has also created a major financial challenge for traditional news organizations, eroding their revenues.

The transformation in MENA consumers’ news consumption habits is driven by factors such as widespread mobile connectivity, high internet penetration, and social media usage, particularly among young, tech-savvy consumers.  In terms of news formats, 66% of respondents named mobile video as their favorite for news consumption. Short-form articles were also popular, enjoyed by 58% of respondents.

Financial pressure

The research presents evidence that the region’s news organizations are grappling with financial pressures. MENA region newspaper and magazine revenues have fallen every year since 2018, from a high of US$2 billion in 2018 to US$1.4 billion in 2022. The analysis also forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -4% up to 2027, which could cause total MENA revenues to fall even further to US$1.2 billion. The figures also show that while digital advertising revenues are slowly increasing at a rate of 1% per year, print advertising revenues are set to slump by 11.3% by 2027.

“The rapid changes in the news media industry in the MENA region have created real avenues for growth. To successfully capitalize on these opportunities, news organizations will need to digitally transform, adopt sustainable business models, and pursue operational agility, innovation, and productivity,” said Karim Sarkis, Partner at Strategy&, part of the PwC network, and the leader of the media and entertainment sector in the Middle East.

Karim Daoud, Partner at Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network

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