Video trends in focus

In depth media study raises some interesting insights into video consumption
The report provides insights into viewing habits by country, age group and gender.
The report provides insights into viewing habits by country, age group and gender.


Comedy, news, and music emerged as respondents’ three favourite online video genres in both 2014 and 2016, in a broad-reaching media study from Northwestern University in Qatar.

Compared to 2014, more respondents in 2016 list comedy as one of their three favourite genres in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE (Lebanon: 30% to 59%, Egypt: 48% to 56%, KSA: 43% to 56%, UAE: 38% to 52%). The popularity of music videos remained steady everywhere except Tunisia and the UAE where they grew in popularity between 2014 and 2016 (Tunisia: 32% to 51%, UAE: 19% to 30%). Favour for news dropped in Egypt, but increased in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia over the same two years (Egypt: 41% to 25% vs. KSA: 17% to 31% and Tunisia: 30% to 38%).

More men than women cite sports, news, and documentaries as favourite online video genres (sports: 37% vs. 5%, news: 32% vs. 24%, documentaries: 22% vs. 18%). Women more frequently than men list drama, fashion, and children/family-oriented content as favourite online videos (drama 26% vs. 20%, fashion: 24% vs. 5%, children/family: 12% vs. 7%).

More cultural conservatives than progressives favour news and religious/spiritual programming (news: 31% vs. 23%, religious/spiritual: 20% vs. 11%). However, more progressives than conservatives cite online comedy and music videos among their favourite content (comedy: 57% vs. 50%, music: 36% vs. 28%).

Nationals who believe their country is headed in the right direction are more likely to report religious/spiritual programming among their three favourite online video genres (20% vs. 8% wrong track), whereas more of those who say their country is on the wrong track prefer documentaries (25% vs. 19% right track). However, both groups are equally likely to cite comedy, music, and news as their top three favourite online video genres.

Approximately three to four times as many respondents aged 18 to 24 access music, news, films, and TV programs online than those 45 years and older. Only 8% with a primary education or less access music online compared to 28% of those with intermediate, 51% with secondary, and 62% with university education. The pattern is similar for accessing both news and films online. More than 10 times as many university-educated nationals access TV programmes online as those with the lowest education (34% vs. 3%).

Large majorities in all countries access the internet in Arabic, from 99% in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to 94% in Qatar, 81% in Lebanon, and 68% in Tunisia. A majority of internet users in Lebanon use English online (62%), as do about four in 10 internet users from Tunisia, Qatar, and the UAE (44% Tunisia, 41% Qatar, 37% UAE).

A majority of Tunisians access the internet in French (84%), compared to few or none in other countries. English use online varies by country, but from 2013 to 2016 it declined in Lebanon, Qatar, and marginally in Egypt (Lebanon: 79% vs. 62%, Qatar: 56% vs. 41%, Egypt: 24% vs. 18%).

English use remains low in Saudi Arabia (11% 2013 vs. 13% 2016). Accessing English on the internet is on an upward trend in the UAE (26% in 2013 vs. 37% in 2016).

Some 43% of internet users aged 18 to 24 years old access the internet in English, compared to 24% of those 45 years and older.

Those with at least a secondary education are more likely to access the internet in English than the least-educated respondents (46% university or higher and 30% secondary vs. 24% intermediate and 16% primary or less).

About the report

Any understanding of the role communication media play among individuals, institutions, nation-states, and society itself requires grounding in how people use media to communicate with others and seek news, opinions, entertainment, and even commercial messages.

These objectives guide Northwestern University in Qatar’s annual Media Use in the Middle East studies. This 2016 report continues to chart a course toward fuller appreciation of media of all kinds, from so-called legacy or traditional media to digital and social media and direct messaging. This survey, conducted in six countries—Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates—among over 6,000 individuals contributes to a portrait of regional differences and change, sometimes incremental, sometimes dramatic, and therefore represents a key study of media use in Arab countries.


Taken from research report Conducted by: Northwestern University in Qatar, Led by Everette E. Dennis, Justin D. Martin, and Robb Wood, with Marium Saeed In partnership with Doha Film Institute, in association with Harris Poll.

Most Popular

Editor's Choice

StarzPlay’s tech powers India’s Lionsgate Play
Provides managed services, developed by StarzPlay, to mark successful launch of Lionsgate Play ...
Subscribe to Digital Studio Middle East
The latest editor of Digital Studio Middle East, the foremost and most respected platform for ...
Dubai's Faisal Hashmi working on feature film
10 short films in 10 years has earned Faisal Hashmi international plaudits at film festival, ...

Don't Miss a Story