The recently relaunched independent Moroccan website Lakome has an interesting piece [Fr, original Ar here] up today based on an internal al-Jazeera report on what channels are watched around the Arab world. Some of their findings:
- Al Jazeera is still the most watched Arab television channel across the region, with overall growing market share ahead of pan-Arab competitors such as al-Arabiya and (way ahead of) Sky News Arabia.
- ONTV (a liberal channel owned by billionaire Naguib Sawiris — Update: recently sold by Naguib Sawiris to a Tunisian businessman — that hosts some of the best-regarded talk shows in Egypt, notably Yosri Fouda's Akher Kalam) has taken over al-Jazeera in popularity in Egypt.
- In Tunisia, Jazeera's audience size went from 950,000 in January 2012 to 200,000 in December 2012, perhaps reflecting the growing anti-Qatar sentiment in the country because of the ruling Ennahda Party's close connections to the emirate. Local channels such as Hannibal are preferred by local TV watchers.
- Al-Jazeera's bias in its Syria coverage is believed to be one of the reasons for the drop on popularity of the channel
What strikes me in this is not so much that al-Jazeera is growing unpopular because of its pro-Islamist slant (which varies across its various channels) but that locally produced and targeted content is getting more attention. This is entirely normal, and reflects the growth in country-specific satellite channels in recent years that can offer more targeted content to viewers and more targeted audiences to advertisers.