The month of Ramadan is a key media consumption period throughout the Middle East. It’s a time when TV networks release their best programming in an effort to compete for both viewership and advertising dollars. Dubai Media Incorporated produces and airs a high-quality animated program called Shaabiyat al Cartoon as part of its Ramadan lineup. For years it has been a crowd-pleaser and a key ratings generator for the network. However, it has recently experienced a decline in engagement among youth who spend more time online. It needed to be rebooted for younger viewers.
Audiences of all ages view TV differently, but youth who watch content on their own terms expect a much more interactive experience. They use multiple screens while watching TV, using smartphones or tablets to comment, chat with friends, and interact with shows’ bespoke content. Social conversation indicated DMI’s audience enjoyed viewing Shaabiyat Al Cartoon. But so far it had been a one-way communication. They saw an opportunity to improve, and get the audience to engage with the show while sharing it with their friends. And what better way to do that than make the audience become stars of the cartoon itself! They then created a mobile and social app where viewers could “cartoonize” themselves along with up to 4 other friends/family members. The app grabbed faces from photos submitted by viewers and applied them to the cartoon bodies of the characters in Shaabiyat. Users then activated the app to see the cartoonized images come to life and perform a traditional Emirati dance, the same that the characters do during the end credits.
Participants could then share the personalized videos with friends/family, perfectly fitting with the Ramadan spirit of giving and sharing special moments with loved ones. Throughout the month of Ramadan, more than 10K downloads were recorded for the Shaabiyat app on both Android & IOS devices as well as Facebook app plays. Overall program ratings of Shaabiyat increased 26% vs. the previous year, and among youth aged 15-34 ratings increased by 42%, making it the top rated show within the UAE during Ramadan!